Forklift Safety

The importance of forklift safety cannot be overemphasized and is of prime concern to Drury University. Please operate forklifts with due care and follow the safety rules below, which can also be found in the forklift operator’s manual.

Know your forklift. Read the operator’s manual and name plates on the forklift and become familiar with the forklift and operating procedures. If you don’t understand something in the operator’s manual, ask the supervisor to explain it to you.

Get permission from the supervisor. Only those who are trained on the forklift will be permitted to operate it.

Safety is your business. No machine design can eliminate driver’s error or carelessness.

Don’t neglect any defect. If the forklift is not functioning properly, please halt all forklift operations and report the problem to the supervisor. If any warning light comes on, move to a safe place and check or repair the problem.

Avoid fire hazard. Don’t use an open flame to check level, or for leakage of fuel, electrolyte or cooling water. Never smoke while inspecting the battery, handling fuel or working on the fuel system. There is a danger of explosion.

Warming up and cooling down. When operating the forklift in a confined space, make sure there is enough ventilation. If needed, use a ventilation fan. Do not open the radiator cap while the engine is hot.

Never move controls unless properly seated. Never attempt to work the controls unless property seated.

Start safely. Before starting the forklift, make sure that the parking brake lever is applied securely, the forward-reverse lever is in neutral, and side view mirrors are properly set. In addition, please make sure that no one is under, on or close to the forklift.

Parking properly. Park the forklift on a level surface and apply the parking brake securely. If parking on a grade is unavoidable, be sure to block the wheels. Put the forks on the ground or floor and tilt a little forward. Shut down the engine and remove the key.

Never horse play. Never race or play games with the forklift. Operate the controls smoothly and don’t jerk the steering wheel. Avoid sudden stops, starts, or turns. Make sure no one is around the forklift before starting.

Obey traffic rules.

Don’t offer rides to others. Never allow other persons to ride on the forks, pallets, or on the forklift.

Don’t daydream. Keep your mind on your work and learn to anticipate danger before it arises.

Keep eyes toward the direction of travel. Look in the direction of and keep a clear view of the path of travel. Wandering eyes mean a wandering forklift, which could be dangerous.

Remain seated. Keep your head, hands, arms, feet, and legs within the confines of the operator’s compartment.

Handling bulky loads. When handling bulky loads which restrict vision, operate the machine in reverse or have a guide. When you have a guide, make sure you understand hand, flag, whistle or other signals. When operating with long loads such as lumber, pipe, etc, be extremely careful of load end swing at corners or in narrow aisles. Be alert for fellow workers.

Watch for doorways. Watch for branches, cables, door ways, or overhangs. Use caution when working in congested areas.

Slow down at corners. Slow down and sound horn at cross aisles and other locations where vision is obstructed.

Watch your assets. Be careful when traveling in reverse and turning. Be alert to prevent striking anything with fork tips. Due to rear wheel steering, the rear of the forklift swings outwards when turning. The forklift with an attachment for long-sized loads requires larger turning radius. Make sure the load is well stacked and evenly positioned across both forks. Use caution when traveling on bad floor conditions.

Keep flammables away. Keep fluid cans, cotton bale, paper or chemicals away from the forklift during operation since there is a danger of igniting or exploding due to exhaust gas from the muffler. Never approach overhead power cables with any part of the forklift.

Check work area. Inspect the surface over which you will run. Look for holes, drop-offs, obstacles, and rough spots. Clear away trash and debris and pick up items that might puncture a tire or let the load lose balance. Slow down on wet/slippery areas.

Carry the load low. It’s dangerous to travel with forks higher than is appropriate regardless of whether loaded or not. When traveling, the forks should be 6 to 12 inches above the ground or floor. Do not operate the side shift mechanism if equipped when the forks are raised and loaded. This will cause the forklift to be unbalanced.

Tilt backward when loaded. Travel with load as low as possible and tilted back. If operating with steel pallet, be sure to tilt back the mast to prevent it from slipping off the forks.

Avoid braking too sharply. Avoid braking too sharply or descending on a grade at a high speed. There is danger of loads falling down or the truck turning over.

Stop, and then back up. Always brake to a full stop before reversing travel direction.

Precautions on grade. When running down on a grade, use the engine as a brake. While using the engine as a brake, don’t operate directional and speed control levers. If the forklift exceeds the gear speed range, use the brake pedal.

Back down and drive up. When operating a loaded forklift, make sure the rear end of the machine is pointed down hill. When climbing grades, use the forward gears and when descending grades, use the reverse gears. Never turn sideways on an incline because of the danger of the forklift turning over.

Know the capacity of the forklift and never exceed it. Do not use a man/woman as an additional counterweight.

Wear goggles. It’s easy for the operator to get dust/sand in his/her eye. Pay attention to the direction of the wind and wear goggles.

Don’t lift unstable loads. Make sure that your load is well stacked and evenly positioned across both forks. Don’t attempt to lift a load with only one fork.

Use proper pallet. The pallet and skid used should be strong enough to endure the load. Never use damaged or deformed pallets.

Never lift a load over anyone. Never permit anyone to stand or walk under upraised forks. If unavoidable, use a safety stand or block to prevent a possibility of forks falling down or moving unexpectedly.

Ease into the load. Don’t enter into loads at high speeds. Always make certain that your load is stable before lifting the forks. Be sure to stop in front of the load to be lifted and make certain that there is no obstacle before engaging the load by driving forward.

Enter load squarely. When a load is to be retrieved from a pile, enter the area squarely. Engage forks into the pallet carefully.

Don’t tilt the mast with load high. Use minimum forward and reverse tilt when stacking and unstacking loads. Never tilt forward unless load is over stacked or at low lift height. When stacking loads on a high place, make the mast vertical at a height of 6 to 8 inches above the ground and then lift the load farther. Never attempt to tilt the mast beyond vertical when the load is raised high. To remove loads from high places, insert forks into the pallet, lift slightly and drive backwards and lower the load. Tilt the mast backwards after lowering. Never attempt to tilt the mast with the load raised high.

Don’t stack load too high on forks. Don’t stack loads on forks in such a way that the top of loads exceeds the load backrest height. If unavoidable, make the load stable securely. When handling bulky loads which restrict your vision, operate the truck in reverse or have a guide.

Avoid work on a grade. Never lift loads with the truck inclined. Avoid loading work on a grade.

Towing the forklift. If the forklift is towed by another machine, the propeller shaft or drive shaft between the transmission and differential should be removed to prevent the clutch plates from seizing. Don’t attempt to tow a forklift with engine failure, steer system malfunctioning or brake system damage.

Protect yourself. Wear all protective clothing and personal safety gear devices called for by job conditions, such as a helmet, safety shoes, reflective clothing, etc. Do not wear neck ties or pendants.

Plan your work. Make your work plan known to all other personnel involved.