April 11, 2018

On the job, following safety procedures helps you protect yourself and coworkers from harm. It’s important to learn the proper procedures for operating a forklift and always follow these safety guidelines in your workplace.

Key forklift operating practices

Be sure you’re familiar with all of the following:

1. Only operate a forklift if qualified.

In order to use a forklift, you should be trained and licensed to ensure the safety of yourself and others, and to protect the equipment.

2. Wear appropriate clothing.

Safe workwear includes a hard hat, safety shoes and specialized jacket. Loose clothing can get stuck in the machinery, so be sure yours is well-fitted.

3. Check equipment before use.

A safety check to be sure brakes, steering, controls, warning devices, mast and tires are in working order is essential each time you operate a forklift. When you notice damage, alert your supervisor and do not use the forklift until repaired.

4. Be aware of your environment.

Only operate the forklift in designated areas and observe all signs and clearance heights. Keep a safe distance from the edge of ramps and loading dock. Do not operate on bridge plates unless they can support the forklift’s weight.

5. Drive at a safe speed.

Do not exceed the speed limit. Take turns, changes in direction and stops slowly and carefully.

6. Steer clear of unsafe surfaces.

Bumps, uneven terrain or slippery surfaces are not safe. Also, avoid driving over loose objects. Keep a safe distance from other trucks and use the horn when turning a corner to avoid a collision.

7. Stabilize your load.

Be sure the load is tilted back with the forks sitting low. Loads should be properly stacked across both forks.

8. Do not overload the forklift.

Know the capacity of your forklift and do not lift loads beyond this weight. Doing so can cause your forklift to tip.

9. Evenly distribute loads across both forks.

Be sure both forks are under your load before lifting.

10. Store the forklift properly.

At the end of your shift, park the forklift in the appropriate area, lower the forks to the floor, apply the parking brake and turn the forklift off. Remove the key.

What to do when you have questions

If you ever have any questions about the above safety procedures, check with your supervisor. Be sure you understand all safety procedures before operating a forklift.

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