Forklift operator. Certainly not the most dangerous of jobs, but when you’re dealing with such a big piece of machinery, it could be! And it’s your responsibility to see to it that everything is in place to make sure the whole ordeal is as safe as possible. From making sure you have the proper training, to wearing a hard hat and closed-toe shoes, to operating at a safe speed, there are many precautions you can take. Here are four forklift safety tips to remember. 

Starting the forklift 

Before you start the forklift, make sure you’re familiar with each of the pieces and hand grabs and controls. Adjust the seat and mirrors to your needs and don’t start the forklift until you’re properly seated with your safety belt buckled and all other body parts safely inside the confines of the lift. 

Be mindful of your equipment 

You’re responsible for the equipment you operate, so you should always check for any faults in the brakes, steering, controls, warning devices, tires and other parts of the forklift. If you or another co-worker observes any problems or damages, notify management immediately so repairs can be made. You should not operate the forklift if it needs to be fixed. When you need to refuel the forklift, turn it off and make sure there are no open flames or sparks in the area. After your turn with the forklift is over, park it in a designated area, fully lower the forks to the floor and put on the parking brake. Then turn the forklift off, remove the key; never leave it running while unattended. 

Beware of your surroundings 

This is one of our most important forklift safety tips. Whether you’re moving forwards or backwards, make sure you have clear visibility of your surroundings. Aside from driving up steep ramps, you should be able to see exactly where you’re going including the space where you’re going, to set down the load. If your load is too big and makes that difficult, ask a lookout to help guide you. Observe signs and stick to the roadways designated for forklifts by your employer. Be especially careful on ramps, loading docks and bridges, keeping a safe distance from the edge. And be aware of the height of your load as you approach low ceilings, doorways and overhead guards. Avoid hazards, like bumpy, uneven ground, slippery conditions, loose objects on the ground, and pedestrians. 

Keep the load reasonable

Forklifts are for carrying loads only. It’s probably tempting at the end of a long workday for some of your coworkers to hop on and hitch a ride back to the main office, but that’s not safe at all. If there’s an actual need to lift a person to a higher point, use only a securely attached platform or cage and follow the appropriate instructions.

Know the capacity of your forklift, including any attachments you’re using, and don’t overload it. This can cause the rear tires to be raised off the ground and might cause it to tip. Make sure the load is balanced—if you’re moving a smaller item, use a pallet or skid that can hold the weight of the load. And don’t use the tips of the forks to push a load or to raise a heavy load. Use the full length of the fork. 

For more forklift safety tips and other safe procedures in the workplace, check out our blog!

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