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Help, How-To's and Tips

Safety Tips for Operating a Forklift

1. Operator Qualification
• The person operating the forklift should be trained and be licensed to operate the machine.

2. Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)
• Operators should be equipped with proper safety gear such as steel-toe boots, hi-visibility vest and a hard hat. He/she should also refrain from wearing loose clothing to avoid having the wear caught on the machine components.

3. Equipment Examination
• Prior to operating the forklift, operator should routinely check for any possible signs of wear. For example, observe if there are any shear (fault) lines on any components such as the mast, cylinders, brakes, etc. If the forklift uses a safety reverse horn and amber lights, the operator should check that it is working properly.
• If any problems with the equipment is found, operator should notify his/her manager and request for the repair. If he/she finds that the machine is deemed dangerous to operate or does not feel safe using the machine, he/she should refuse to work. Remember that it is the employee’s right to refuse work that he/she finds unsafe.

4. Surrounding Environment Considerations
• Prior to entering the forklift, the operator should be aware of the surroundings and ensure nothing is in the way that may be hazardous.
• The operator should stay vigilant during forklift operation and follow the rules and guidelines of the work site. Ensure that the operator is observant of all signs in the area such as clearance heights.
• The machinery should be driven only on the designated pathways for machines. Ensure a safe distance from the edges to avoid tipping or falling over the edge. Ensure that the bridge plates have the load capacity to support the forklift and the items it carries.

5. Forklift Start Up
• Ensure that the seating position is suitable to the operator. The equipment controls should be within close reach to the operator and the mirrors should be adjusted appropriately to maximize visibility.
• The operator should have his/her safety belt fastened and be safely seated within the forklift cabin.

6. Speed
• The operator should never drive past the speed limit.
• When directional changes are made, the operator should slow down to avoid the risk of tipping.

7. Hazards
• Ensure, at all times, a safe distance from other moving equipment ahead.
• Look ahead to avoid any hazardous ground conditions such as bumps and wetness.
• When turning around a corner, entrance, or any other routes with obstructing visions, use the horn to alert other people.

8. Load Stability
• Prior to moving the load, ensure that it is securely placed and is without damages.
• The load should be tilted back towards the cabin while the forklift is moving.
• Ensure that there are enough height clearance for the load.

9. Visibility
• When the loads are stacked too high, obstructing the visibility of the operator, operate the forklift in reverse.
• When the operator has no clear visibility, he/she should have another person, assisting hi/her.

10. Forklift Use
• The forklift should only lift loads that are securely placed on the fork.
• No persons are allowed to be lifted or allowed to ride on the equipment.

11. Clear of Moving Parts
• Hands and feet should stay clear from the mast to avoid risk of injury. Also, allow a large radius for people to stay away from the forklift when it is operating.

12. Directions of Driving
• The forklift should drive forward when it is moving upwards on a ramp and backwards when it is moving down the ramp. This will enable the loads to stay secure on the fork.

13. Load Capacity
• The load should be placed as close to the carriage as possible. Never put the full load near the tips of the fork.
• Both forks should be used, not just one. Pallets and skids are extremely useful in distributing weight of the load evenly.
• Avoid using pallets that has signs of damages or decay.

14. End of Shift
• When the use of the forklift is complete, park it in the designated area with its forks lowered to the floor. Also, apply the park brake and turn off the forklift, removing the key.


Maintenance Tips for a Forklift

Maintaining your forklift on a regular basis extends its life and the life of its parts. Like other vehicles and machines, the forklift parts are subjected to wear. Specifically, moving parts experience the most wear. The following items below describe important maintenance processes.

  • Ensure that all movable parts are lubricated. Moving joints and parts should be greased to reduce unwanted friction. If ball bearings are worn out, they should be removed.
  • Ensure that the forklift tires are in good conditions. Check the air pressure for tires that uses air and make sure that it is at a correct level and all four tires are close to the same. Also, check that the treads of the tires are clearly visible. As for the solid rubber tires, make sure that there are no visible damage, such as gashes, on the tires.
  • Ensure that the forklift is always sufficiently charged or fueled: The batteries should be charged and the gas tank should be filled.
  • Ensure that the fluid levels are at recommended levels. Check for the levels of hydraulic fluids, transmission fluids, coolants, and motor oil on a regular basis.
  • Pay attention to the forklift gauges. Ensure that there are no warning lights and the gauges are indicating good operable levels.

If the outcome of the checks indicate a problem with the forklift, it should be taken to the repair shop to be checked by a professional mechanic, immediately.