4 Essential Elements of Forklift Safety

If you operate a material handling business, safety should always come first. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 35,000 to 62,000 injuries involving forklifts occur annually.


Around 75 to 100 of these incidents are fatal. OSHA estimates that roughly 70 percent of these accidents could be avoided if companies emphasized training, maintenance, and safe operation. In honor of National Forklift Safety Day, implement these four essential safety elements at your facility this month.

Forklift Safety Training

An accident-free workplace begins with proper training. Not only do improperly trained operators pose a risk to themselves and others, but allowing employees to operate forklifts without the necessary certification could result in costly fines.

For these reasons, you must ensure every employee receives proper forklift safety training and certification. Then, keep your operators up-to-date with refresher training, which OSHA requires every three years.

Routine Inspections

OSHA urges operators to inspect forklifts before each shift. Items to check include:

  • Forklift body and operator compartment
  • Forks and masts
  • Chains and cables
  • Overhead guards
  • Mechanical safety devices
  • Horns
  • Tires
  • Brakes
  • Steering operation
  • Hydraulic controls
  • Attachments
  • Limit switches
  • Battery charge

If the operator finds any damage, they must note it, inform their shift supervisor, and refrain from operating the equipment until it is repaired.

Preventative Maintenance

Pre-shift inspections are useful, but only forklift preventative maintenance can stop problems before they start. Review your current PM program and consider signing up for a fleet maintenance agreement. A customized plan can reduce your facility’s downtime, prevent surprise expenses, and increase productivity, all while keeping you compliant with OSHA regulations.

Driver Knowledge & Attentiveness

Operators should remain acutely aware of their surroundings while operating a forklift. Here are some forklift safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Know the layout of your workplace and any danger zones.
  • Carefully observe signs for maximum floor load limits and clearance heights.
  • Pay attention to load height when passing through doorways.
  • Follow forklift speed limits. Slow down and sound the horn when approaching intersections, corners, and populated areas.
  • Always look in the direction of travel.
  • Use spotters or rear-view mirrors when driving backward.
  • Use headlights when working at night, outdoors, or in areas with limited visibility.
  • Follow established warehouse traffic patterns.
  • Know the forklift’s capacity and the weight of the load before attempting to lift.
  • Keep loads low during operation.
  • Keep loads uphill when climbing or descending an incline.
  • Avoid setting heavy loads on top of light ones.
  • Store forklifts in the designated area with the forks fully lowered and the parking brake applied.

Partner with Ring Power Lift Trucks for all your forklift sales, rentals, training, and maintenance needs. Our goal is to help you create a “safety first” culture at your Florida material handling facility, drawing on over 60 years of experience to ensure your satisfaction. For more information, please contact us at 877-544-5438.



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