Because of the detailed information in yesterday’s article, we continue  with Part II.  Please read these valuable instructions regarding forklift safety, submitted by Andrea Bernie.


Every forklift comes with a data plate fixed in place as handy reference for important information such as load limits.  When loading a forklift: 

  •          Never exceed manufacturer’s recommended load limit
  •          Keep the vehicle’s mast in an upright position before inserting it into a pallet
  •          Make sure the fork is level before inserting it into a pallet
  •          Position the load according to manufacturer recommendation
  •          Never add a counterweight
  •          For the most stable hauling, keep the load as close to the front wheels as possible 

Raising the Load 

The forklift truck is least stable when its raising the load.  The higher the load, the more unstable the machine.  For optimum safety: 

  •          Never raise or lower the fork on a moving vehicle
  •          Always come to a complete stop, with brake engages, before raising the load or lowering it
  •          For driver safety, never lift a load that will extend higher than the fork’s backrest
  •         Check for adequate overhead clearance before lifting the load
  •          Be mindful of obstructions or other loads along the travel path
  •          Avoid overheat power lines at all times
  •          For traveling stability, life the load first up, then tilted back slightly before moving it
  •          Make sure forks are free before traveling in reverse
  •          Never abandon a loaded forklift, especially if the load is in a raised position
  •          Keep people off the lift, whether loaded or unloaded
  •          Keep people out from under the lift, whether it’s loaded or unloaded 

Handling Pallets 

Pallets and forklifts work together like locks and keys but it’s not a fool-proof union.  Caution in handling pallets is required for speed, efficiency, and to minimize the risk of accidents. 

  •          Adjust forks to fit pallets before inserting them
  •          Make sure the load is balanced and stable before beginning the lift
  •          Make sure the forks are completely under the pallet before beginning the lift
  •          Never adjust the load, the forklift or truck, or the surrounding area once the fork is loaded
  •          Never transfer a palleted load from one raised forklift to another 

Loading or Unloading Straight Trucks, Tractor Trailers, Railway Cars 

  • Tightly packed cargo, cramped spaces, and uneven or unsteady work surfaces make loading or unloading straight trucks, tractor trailers, railway cars, and other moveable cargo carriers exceptionally risky business.  This is never the work of a rookie, never a training ground.  Only highly skilled, well-trained forklift operators should attempt work in these environments. 

Prepare the vehicle before loading or unloading begins.  Be sure to: 

  •          Post warning signs on all sides of the work area
  •          Verify the floor of the vehicle is strong enough to support the weight of the cargo, the forklift, and its operator
  •          Verify the dockplate or on / off ramp is securely fixed in place and can support the weight of the cargo, the forklift, and its   operator
  •          Firmly set all the vehicle’s brakes
  •          Chock all wheels with a wedge or block
  •          If the trailer is uncoupled, in a stand-alone setting, secure it with fixed jacks for added stability
  •          Ensure proper lighting
  •          Make sure points of ingress / egress are clear of obstruction and clearly marked inside and outside the vessel
  •          Inspect the work area and clear away all debris, clutter, or obstructions and clean up any spills or wet spots that could trigger an accident
  •          Install non-slip material to floors that suggest potential risk
  •          Make sure the cargo storage zone is clear of obstruction, with all edges clearly marked
  •          Mark load and cargo storage areas with reflective tape if working at night or in dimly lit environments
  •          Do not work in a cargo container with holes in the floor 

During the loading or unloading process: 

  •          Stay as far away from all edges of docks, ramps, or elevated doorways as possible
  •          Never try to move the vessel with the forklift
  •          Work only in well-ventilated work zones
  •          Keep dockplate and ramps clean and clear of clutter at all times
  •          Work slowly and carefully for maximum safety
  •          Never spin the lift truck’s wheels 

Special measures are necessary for working safely around railway cars: 

  •          Always cross the track on a diagonal
  •          Make sure hand brakes, derailer, and wheel blocks are in place before entering the car
  •          Open railway car doors properly, never with the forks of the lift truck
  •          Park forklift at least ten feet away from track when not in use 

Entering An Elevator with a Forklift Truck 

Freight elevators can save a lot of time and travel bus command special respect when loading and unloading heavy machinery from them.  Always obtain proper authorization before entering an elevator with a forklift truck and use them safely: 

  •          Before entry, verify the elevator can support the weight of the cargo, the forklift, and its operator
  •          Work slowly and cautiously
  •          Allow ample room for elevator doors to open
  •          Enter the elevator squarely, never at an angle
  •          Once inside, neutralize all controls
  •          Turn the forklift’s engine off
  •          Set all forklift truck brakes 


Even parked forklifts are dangerous if they’re not properly exited.  For forklift truck safety round the clock, please: 

  •          Park in designated parking areas only
  •          Before leaving the truck, be sure to:
  •          Firmly set all brakes
  •          Lower forks and/or load to the ground
  •          Turn all controls to neutral or off settings
  •          Turn off the motor
  •          Disconnect battery cables
  •          Follow safety procedures to shut off propane fuel supply 

Technological advances and government regulations make working with forklifts safer to operate with each new design or each new labor law but, ultimately, forklift truck safety depends on the operator.  Respect is required at all times — respect for the machine, respect for the work, respect for the workplace, and respect of the operator and all coworkers in the work zone. 

Author Bio: Joana Kylee is an authorized dealer of superior quality forklift forks, forklift seats and all types forklift spare parts for major brands of lift trucks with same day shipping.