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A Brief Guide to Operating a Forklift

Forklifts are small industrial vehicles used extensively in different industries including large storage facilities and warehouses for transportation of goods and materials. Operating a forklift can be dangerous because it is often used to move heavy objects in tight spaces within the confines of a warehouse.  

Common Safety Hazards:  

Forklift operation relates to a number of safety hazards including tipping over, speeding, over loading, and much more.  

  • Speeding: As a result of their dangerous nature, forklifts should never be used for taking sharp corners, racing, or any other improper use.  
  • Loose Loads: While moving materials around, unsecured or loose loads pose a serious risk. Therefore, always avoid moving off-centre, unsecured load using a forklift. 
  • Bystanders: Any individual present in the work area is a potential risk. Forklift operators must use the horn to alert bystanders before they move, enter, or exit through an intersection. 
  • Ground Conditions: Debris on the floor and slippery surfaces may pose skidding hazard for forklift operators. This is why the floor must be clear of debris and clean.  
  • Over Loading: Forklift operators must always follow the forklift’s data plate and avoid lifting more than the capacity of the truck. 
  • Inclines and declines: Always keep the heavy end uphill while transporting a load. If you are going up a ramp, make sure that the load is in front. Also, while going down a ramp with load, always drive in reverse.  

Pre-Operation Inspections: 

Before using a forklift, the operators must go through a pre-inspection checklist. If the forklift is unable to pass the inspection, it should be marked as out of service. Depending on the class of forklift being used, this checklist will vary. However, a general checklist can also be created. Additional items may have to be checked depending on the class.  

  • Oil, water, and hydraulic fuel level. 
  • Hydraulic hoses and mast chains. 
  • Tires and pressure 
  • Condition of the fork 
  • Loaded backrest extension 
  • Legibility of the safety decals and nameplates 
  • Operator compartment for debris or gunk 
  • Availability of operator manual, safety belt and other safety devices. 

Travelling and Manoeuvring 

After conducting a thorough inspection of the lift, now it is time to start operating the lift. Though forklifts are considered to be vehicles, they are not like our cars because they have an entirely different set of rules to be followed.  

  • Start by putting the vehicle in neutral, followed by pressing the brake and turning the key. 
  • Now, pull the lever at the extreme left towards you. This will result in raising the forks off the floor. Next, tilt the mast toward the lift by pulling the middle lever toward you. 
  • If you intend to travel, start releasing the parking brake and move the directional lever in your desired direction. Always use the siren while moving in reverse direction. 
  • Before you start moving in any direction, ensure that the path is clear. Don’t forget to use the horn when you are near entrances, intersections, and exits. 
  • Adjust the forks using the levers before lifting or moving something. 
  • If your view is blocked by the load, drive the lift in reverse.    
  • When you are ready to dismount, start by turning off the forklift. Now, set the parking brake after the directional lever is set to neutral.    

If you have any other questions about operating your forklift, please contact us at K and G Machinery.