10 rules of forklift safety explained

Forklift safety

Forklift Safety Training Tips - AIP Safety

Did you know forklift accidents can cause severe injury and even death? Although these practical machines are among the most valuable assets on the job site, they require extreme caution. For this reason, forklift training in Calgary is essential. When operating heavy equipment, safety should always be the priority.

A safe job site enables workers to complete their tasks and return home safely to their families. And understanding the rules of forklift safety can help ensure that outcome. With that in mind, here are 10 rules of forklift safety.

1. Ensure only trained employees operate forklift

Forklift certification in Calgary includes the basics of using a forklift. Understanding these fundamentals are critical for a safe workplace. As a result, the only people who should operate forklifts are the ones who have been trained via a comprehensive course. A good quality course will teach you how to:

  • Drive and steer
  • Lift and deposit loads
  • Navigate tricky areas
  • Operate the forklift responsibly

With authorization and proper training, workers can safely navigate the construction site using a forklift. Even if it’s a two-minute job to move the forklift a few feet away, operators must be authorized and trained.

2. Inspect the forklift before using it

Before using the forklift, always make sure to inspect the forklift thoroughly. The equipment should be in good working condition with no repairs required. This inspection is outlined by the manufacturer and can be found in the equipment manual.

Such assessments will ensure the forklift is functional. Consequently, you, as the operator and your fellow workers will be protected. Equipment malfunctions can cause severe or even lethal injuries. Therefore, an inspection should be mandatory every time you operate a forklift.

3. Use at a reasonable speed

A forklift's purpose is to transport goods from one location to the next safely. The faster the speed is, the greater the risk of injury to the operator and others. For this reason, you must operate the forklift at a reasonable speed. This notion comes back to responsibility.

The average forklift weighs in the neighbourhood of 9,000 lbs. It’s not wise to throw that kind of volume around with irresponsible driving. Instead, slow down on turns and steadily change direction when needed.

4. Be mindful of your surroundings

While forklifts may be strong, they have their weaknesses. For example, they are vulnerable to deficiencies in the environment. An unnoticed pothole can cause significant damage to a forklift if you’re not careful. So try to be aware of the surroundings in the workplace. Look out for any holes, bumps, or slippery floors. Clear away any debris or small objects before continuing on your path.


5. Wear appropriate clothing

Avoid loose clothing that can get caught in the equipment. Such apparel will not only be ruined if it gets stuck, but it could also result in injury. Casual wear is not a good idea when operating a forklift. Instead, be sure you’re outfitted in the proper attire, such as:

  • High visibility vest or jacket
  • Hard hat
  • Steel toe boots
  • Tight-fitting overalls or jeans

6. Always load up facing the heaviest part of the machine

When driving on a ramp, the travel direction is dependent on the forklift carrying a load or travelling without the load. The general rule is that the heaviest end of the machine is orientated upslope. For example, if the operator goes up an incline with a load, they can drive up the incline with the heaviest part of the machine going up.

If they are driving upslope without a load, the heaviest part of the machine is the counterweight in the back. This notion means you should travel backwards up the slope. Adhering to this rule will help avoid a potentially dangerous rollover accident.

7. Always follow the proper load technique

Never push or pull a load with fork tips. Lift loads above the suggested weight or attempt to use a counterweight. Loads should always be secured and attached correctly. Never load or unload goods while on a ramp; you’ll compromise your safety by doing so. Remember, it’s always better to take extra precautions than to have a load potentially fall on someone and cause serious injury.

8. Be mindful of other people

While operating a forklift, always keep an eye on other workers. Drive slow, be attentive to your surroundings, honk the horn when coming around corners to alert others etc. As the trained driver, you are responsible for the safety of your coworkers. Never allow anyone to walk or stand under a load. Additionally, communicate directly with anyone who tries to fool around with the forklift.

9. Avoid abrupt stops

Sudden stops can shift the load you’re carrying and potentially cause the forklift to tip over. This fact highlights the importance of reasonable speed limits if you need to stop abruptly for safety reasons. Making such stops is difficult if you’re stepping on the gas, going full throttle. So ensure you can make these abrupt stops safely if the situation calls for it.

10. Always park at a designated spot

A forklift should have a designated parking spot. Before leaving the machine, ensure it’s placed in park and the engine is off, and do a walk-around inspection. This rule has a few benefits that will make things easier for you and others on the job site:

  • It makes it easy to locate the next time you require it
  • Ensures it’s not blocking anyone from doing their job
  • It helps keep the site void of clutter
  • Reduces the chances of collisions with other forklifts

Next Step: Ensure Your Workplace Safety Today

Forklift safety is a prerequisite for job site safety—the two go hand-in-hand. For this reason, you are responsible for ensuring your employees are educated and trained. And by doing so, you make your site safer for everybody. At AIP Safety, we are committed to workplace safety best practices.

And with a wide circle of Health, Safety, and Environmental experts available globally, our training services team is well-positioned to meet your safety training needs.