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July 27, 2016

20 Important Safety Tips for Forklifts

Latest posts by Atlantic Research Team (see all)
forklift safety

We might be beating a dead horse here, as you’ve probably already been involved in countless forklift safety training sessions, toolbox talks, etc. But it’s easy to forget what we learn in forklift training modules and we quickly become numb to the same old repetitive safety precautions that they become void of any true meaning behind why we do them. That’s why OSHA statistics indicate that there are roughly 85 forklift fatalities and 34,900 serious injuries each year, 42 percent of which come from the operator being crushed by a tipping vehicle (

Types of Forklifts Fatalities no bkgd

We can reduce those numbers by ensuring all of our warehouse workers are not only properly educated and trained to safely operate forklifts, but also to be refreshed on important safety details. It’s the duty of everyone in a warehouse to remind each other the proper safety procedure when not only operating a forklift, but working near one as a pedestrian. To help do that, here are 20 simple tips for operating a forklift to introduce you to forklift safety:

1. Operators must be qualified

2. Appropriate clothing must be worn.

3. Examine Equipment before use

4. Starting up the forklift

forklift-safety-300x3005. Consider the surrounding environment

6. Operate at a safe speed

7. Avoid Hazards (seems obvious, I know, but actively trying to spot hazards will help you get better seeing and foreseeing them.)

8. Ensure your load is stable and secure

9. Make sure you have clear visibility

warehouse fatalities by year

10. Forklifts are for Carrying Loads only

11. Keep Clear of the Mast

12. Driving on Ramps

13. Ensure the forklift is not Over-loadedST_1001_3_MAIN_INLINE

14. Ensure the Load is evenly distributed

15. Refueling

16. When the Shift Ends

inspection label forklifts17. Inspecting A Forklift

Prior to using a forklift, OSHA requires that every forklift undergo a pre-operation inspection. The pre-operation inspection involves a initial visual check with the key off, and then an operational check when the engine is running. Any defective forklifts should be taken out of service immediately, and a supervisor notified. (

Before starting your vehicle, conduct a pre-operation (or pre-start) inspection that checks a variety of items, including but not limited to :

After completing the pre-operation inspection, operators should conduct an operational inspection with the engine running. This inspection includes:

18. Refueling A Forkliftgas_bottle-resized-400

The most widely used forklifts have an internal combustion engine powered by fuels that include gas, liquid petroleum, diesel fuel, and compressed natural gas. Forklifts with internal combustion engines can be quickly refueled but require regular maintenance checks for leaks of fuel or oil, worn parts requiring replacement, and to keep systems working properly. Newer forklifts with internal combustion engines have on-board sensors that monitor and adjust emissions and have catalytic converters that help reduce emissions. (

Follow correct refueling procedures:

  1. Park the forklift in the designated refueling area.
  2. Place the transmission in Neutral.
  3. Lower the forks to the ground.
  4. Engage the parking brake.
  5. Shut off the engine.
  6. Open the filler cap.
  7. Fill the tank slowly (if spillage occurs, wipe off fuel and wash down the area with water).
  8. Close the filler cap. (

For complete forklift refueling safety training, click here.

19. Stability and Loadstippingforward-5

In order for forklifts to remain balanced and to prevent them from tipping over, there must be an established center of gravity. It’s important to understand why forklifts become unstable so that preventative measures can be taken. Our friends over at OSHA have broken down exactly how to measure center of gravity, as well as everything you need to know about load composition. For complete training on forklift loads and counter balance, click here.


20. Pedestrians

Being vigilant of pedestrians during forklift operation is vitally important in helping to reduce risks and injuries. Employers and supervisors can do their part to maintain safety in the warehouse by:

Pedestrians working in or near the warehouse where a forklift is in operation can help reduce injuries and accidents by:

And lastly, forklift drivers can help reduce injuries, accidents and safety breaches by:

Bottom Line

Forklifts are considered heavy machinery and any and all heavy machinery can be dangerous even when operated with utmost caution. Be knowledgeable and stay vigilant when operating a forklift. Get a “feel” for the machine you’re operating and encourage others to maintain safe operations around the equipment as well. It’ll help your operation of the forklift and their ability to work around it be natural, seamless, and safe.

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