SAFETY SOLUTIONS: Forklift Safety Practices
Powered industrial trucks, commonly called forklifts or
lift trucks, are used in many industries, primarily to
move materials. They can also be used to raise, lower,
or remove large objects or a number of smaller objects on
pallets or in boxes, crates, or other containers. Powered
industrial trucks can either be ridden by the operator or
controlled by a walking operator. What are the hazards
associated with operating powered industrial trucks?
There are many types of powered industrial trucks. Each
type presents different operating hazards. For example, a
sit-down, counterbalanced high-lift rider truck is more
likely than a motorized hand truck to be involved in a
falling load accident because the sit-down rider truck can
lift a load much higher than a hand truck. Workplace type
and conditions are also factors in hazards commonly associated
with powered industrial trucks. For example, many
workers can be injured when:
(1) lift trucks are inadvertently driven off loading docks;
(2) lifts fall between docks and an unsecured trailer;
(3) they are struck by a lift truck; or
(4) they fall while on elevated pallets and tines.
If you have forklifts in your place of employment,forklift
operators must meet OSHA standards 29 CFR 1910.178
to be considered properly trained. According to OSHA 29
CFR 1910.178 (I) (2) (ii) Training shall consist of a combination
of formal instruction (e.g., lecture, discussion, interactive
computer learning, video tape, written material),
practical training (demonstrations performed by the trainer
and practical exercises performed by the trainee), and
evaluation of the operator's performance in the workplace.
29 CFR 1910.178(l)(2)(iii) states “All operator training
and evaluation shall be conducted by persons who have
the knowledge, training, and experience to train powered
industrial truck operators and evaluate their competence”
and 1910.178(l)(3) states “Training program content.
Powered industrial truck operators shall receive initial
training in the following topics, except in topics which the
employer can demonstrate are not applicable to safe
operation of the truck in the employer's workplace.” OSHA
requires all forklift operators must have retraining at least
once every three years and it is a violation of Federal law
for anyone under 18 years of age to operate a forklift or
for anyone over 18 years of age who is not properly
trained and certified to do so.
Here are a few common safety rules to follow during
- Use the seat belt. It will keep you secured in the seat in
the unplanned event of a tip over.
- A parked forklift should have the forks flat on the floor
with the controls set to neutral and with the parking
- A forklift is considered to be “unattended” if the operator
is more than 25 feet away or if the forklift is out of
the direct vision of the operator. Unattended forklifts
should be parked with the power turned off.
- When operating the forklift on inclines, the load should
always be on the uphill side of the incline. Drive forward
going up the incline. Drive backward going down the
- When traveling without a load on the forks, keep the
forks approximately four to six inches off the floor.
- Never allow anyone to walk underneath a raised load.
- Stop at all blind corners to check for other traffic in the
area. This includes other forklifts and pedestrians. Honk
your horn and look before you proceed.
- If carrying a tall load that blocks your forward vision,
drive in reverse and turn your head so you can see
where you are going.
- If operating around other forklifts maintain a three-forklift
length distance between forklifts and never attempt
- Never drive a forklift up to the back of a person who is
unaware that the forklift is behind them.
If you have questions about forklift safety or need training,
please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, click on the author biography at the top of the page.