Forklift - Health and Safety

The forklift is a common piece of machinery, used in many businesses and companies for a number of valuable purposes. However, the forklift is also one of the most common causes of accidents in the workplace. A thorough understanding of forklift health and safety, followed by appropriate training, is essential for eliminating accidents, injuries and keeping work standards to a satisfactory level.

We have highlighted a number of safety points that should be carried out when operating a forklift.

Before Operating A Forklift

Starting a forklift without carrying out the necessary checks can cause further damage to the forklift or can even result in accidents and injuries if the forklift is not in proper working order. This is why it is essential to have a checklist that should be carried out everyday before the forklift is used.

  •  Check the tyres for damage and ensure the pressure is right
  •  Ensure the battery is fully charged
  •  Always make sure the warning lights and audible warning devices are working correctly.
  •  The brakes should be thoroughly checked
  •  Ensure the forks can manoeuvre adequately

Safety Rules to Consider Before Operating a Forklift

  • The potential forklift operator must be fully qualified to use and operate a forklift. At no time should an unqualified employee use or operate a forklift truck.
  • The work area where the forklift is to operate must be appropriately modified, which includes removing any obstructions, creating specific areas for pedestrians and ensuring aisles are fully accessible.
  • All routes, one-way systems and aisles must be fully sign-posted, and the signs adhered to at all times.

Things to Avoid When Operating a Forklift

  • A forklift is not designed to carry more than one operator, so at no time should there be any other person on a forklift except the trained operator.
  • A common mistake that often causes injury is overloading the forklift. Every forklift has a specific weight regulation that should never be exceeded. Always check the weight regulation before operating a forklift.
  • A forklift should never be loaded so high that it restricts the operator’s vision when moving forward, as it can cause accidents and damage.
  • A forklift should never travel with an elevated load. This can make the forklift unstable and the load is more likely to cause damage if it drops. This can also result in extreme injuries, especially if load falls on a person.
  • Fire exits and fire fighting equipment should never be obstructed by the forklift or forklift load.

Things to Ensure When the Forklift Operation is Complete

  • Ensure the forklift is parked appropriately and is not obstructing any exits or equipment.
  • When forklift operation is complete always fully lower the forklift arms.
  • Always switch off the engine, never let the engine run even if an operator is about to turn up and use it.
  • Remove the key and place it in the appropriate place.
  • Be sure to record any repairs that need seeing to, and anything else that requires noting.

Comments on this article

barrie 13 June, 2012

should all forklifts have a mirror on each side? and should there be a noise indicating that the vehicle is reversing back.

steven 19 October, 2012

Hi there just wondered if you could answer a question for me might sound silly to you but here goes, the lad i work in the warehouse with doesnt have a licence for the forklift, but is it ok for me to supervise him whilst he uses the forklift as i am fully trained an hold a valid licence.
many thanks

Mandy 24 April, 2013

Is it safe for forklifts to be used by a single person on an Unattended site during a night shift?

mike 10 July, 2013

Hi is it law for others around me to where a highvis vest while I'm operating a Fork lift

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