Fork Lift Association & Thorough Examination

5 Essential Safety Considerations When Operating a Forklift

According to an article on the British Safety Council's website,, ‘Every working day, five lives are changed – in an instant – because of injuries resulting from accidents involving forklift trucks’.

The article goes on to say that 25% of workplace transport injuries are a direct result of forklift accidents. With stats this startling, it becomes imperative that whenever you operate a forklift, safety must be the number one priority.

To help you and your employees stay safe when operating your forklift or forklifts, we’ve put together a list of 5 essential safety tips. If you find it helpful please pass the list on, and if you’d like further information, get in touch.

1. All forklift operators must be certified

Yes, it will mean a financial investment, but ensuring anyone operating a forklift has the correct certification, is a legal safety requirement under Regulation 9 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER 98).

To acquire a recognised forklift certification (not a license), aka an RTITB Basic Training Certificate, potential forklift operators will be required to have a good understanding of the following:

  • Forklift controls and instruments

  • Operation of hydraulic controls

  • Manoeuvring the forklift, including starting, stopping, steering, and on/off ramp driving

  • Loading and unloading

  • Stacking and de-stacking

  • Forklift stability

  • The Operators’ Safety Code

2. Forklift pre-operational inspections must be carried out

Before driving any motorised vehicle, it’s important to carry out a basic pre-inspection, but when it comes to operating a forklift, a pre-inspection isn’t only recommended, it’s vital for your safety, and for the safety of those around you.

A basic, pre-operational inspection of a forklift is a visual check that mainly involves the operator having a walk around the forklift prior to operating, checking for things such as:

  • Oil leaks

  • Incorrect fluid levels (including fuel)

  • Damaged, overly worn or under-inflated tyres

  • Damage to the mast and/or lifting assembly

  • Overhead guard damage

  • Damaged or malfunctioning lights and gauges

Once in the vehicle, it’s also important to check the condition of internal controls, including:

  • The handbrake

  • Inching controls

  • Transmission

  • Hoisting and lowering controls

  • The horn

3. The correct clothing must be worn when operating a forklift

When operating a forklift, you must wear appropriate clothing, including:

  • A hardhat

  • A luminous safety vest

  • Steel toe-capped shoes

  • Eye protection (especially if you’re working on a construction site or chemical facility)

It’s also important that you don’t wear any loose clothing, as it could potentially snag on internal controls, or externally, on part of the lifting assembly.

4. Make sure the forklift has enough fuel

When a car or similar vehicle runs out of fuel, it will come to a stop. With a forklift however, when it runs out of fuel or electric charge, its lifting capabilities can be seriously affected, creating a potential safety hazard.

To remove the risk of running out of fuel, always check fuel levels during your pre-operational inspection, and also let other operators know that they have a responsibility to ensure they leave sufficient fuel or charge for the next operator.

5. Never lift a load beyond the forklifts capability

Each forklift is designed with a maximum lifting capability that should never be exceeded. You’ll find your forklifts maximum lifting capacity on the capacity data plate, usually located on the instrument panel, near the lifting controls.

Contact us

If you’re looking for a company supplying new forklifts and used forklifts, as well as providing forklift servicing, contact Beds & Bucks Forktrucks Ltd today. We’re a leading forklift specialist, based in Buckinghamshire, and have over 30 years’ experience in the material handling industry.

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