Remember how vigilant you were when you first received your driver’s license? How long did it take before you started to slip into the bad habits that you have today? Before you suggest that you don’t have any, take a look at the basic safety rules in the driver’s education handbook and see how many of them you now routinely gloss over.

The same thing can happen in the workplace when forklift drivers get in the habit of cutting a few corners here and there in order to get the job done sooner. It is important that this doesn’t happen, as the safety of everyone in the building is at stake!

Forklift Safety Starts Before Starting

Safety begins before the forklift has even been turned on for operation. Getting on and off the vehicle sets the tone for the rest of the work shift, which means taking every precaution from the very start. Drivers should make sure that they are wearing the proper footwear, and that there is no grease or other potentially slick substance on the shoes. They should be aware of the head clearance space when getting on and off, and should also use handholds to make the job easier.

Before starting work for the day, the driver should ensure that the vehicle is fully operational, which includes checking the battery life and that the horn is working. Before moving away from a parked position, the horn should be sounded to ensure that everyone knows the forklift is approaching. This is something that should be done at every turn and opening, as there may be blind spots around the corner. The driver should bring the forklift to a complete stop before entering a new aisle or room.

Forklift Safety Accounting for Loads

The forklift should always be parked in assigned areas only, and when in operation, speed limits should be strictly adhered to. These may not be the fastest vehicles in the world, but stopping them when they are carrying a heavy load can be tricky. The driver should always be looking at the road ahead, and be prepared to adjust the speed of the forklift when coming upon inclines, wet floors, blind spots and other potential hazards or blockages. This also includes being aware of forklifts coming from behind or from either side.

Most companies that operate forklifts require that their operators pass some sort of test, and that they are up to date with the most recent rules and regulations set forth by OSHA. The steps covered here are really nothing more than a brief overview of what the forklift driver has to know and adhere to every time they operate the machinery. It may seem like a lot to learn and remember, but the rules are in place to protect everyone that works on and around heavy machinery. If everyone is aware of the rules beforehand, the likelihood of a workplace injury or accident is greatly reduced.

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