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11 Quick Tips for Using Your Forklift

11 Quick Tips for Using Your Forklift

Forklifts are essential to a number of jobs in the workplace, including loading and unloading, lifting, and moving shipments. Workers rely on this heavy duty equipment to get tasks done, so learning how to correctly use a forklift is important for safety and performance. While there are different types of new and used forklifts for sale, there are ground rules that apply to all of this machinery. Equipment Trader is sharing 11 quick tips for using your forklift.

1. Complete Forklift Training

Before you operate any forklift, you need a proper training certification and should be OSHA-certified to use your equipment. While industrial forklifts are commonly used for work, you should be familiar with different types of forklifts in case you switch equipment.

2. Follow Instructions

Always follow the operational instructions for your forklift for safety, proper use, and to get the most out of your equipment. If you’re a manager, make sure your forklift operators are familiar with the specific forklift used in your workplace.

3. Wear Safety Gear

When operating your forklift, wear a hardhat, close-toed shoes or boots, a high-visibility jacket, and proper eyewear if necessary. Don’t wear any loose or baggy clothing or jewelry. Keep your hair up if it’s long.

4. Create a Work Space

Create lanes or roadways in a work zone for you to transport items with your forklift. Use tape, markers, or cones to signify this area. Wherever you use your equipment, ensure the ground is level. Keep the space clear of fellow workers, debris, or slippery surfaces. When working on uneven land, mud, or around ditches, consider using a rough terrain forklift, which is reliable for many construction jobs outside. Designate a space specifically for unloading and another area for refueling.

5. Inspect the Forklift

Before operating, see if the forklift has any warning lights on. Check the tires for wear and tear, look for oil leaks, and inspect the coolant, engine oil, and transmission fluid levels. The forklift’s brakes, steering, mast, and controls should be in working order. If anything is out of place, let your manager/supervisor know. If you’re the owner, check with the manufacturer for maintenance solutions, or seek a mechanic. Cleaning your forklift can help prevent maintenance issues and improve performance. 

6. Make Adjustments

Be careful mounting and dismounting your forklift, making sure you don’t lose your footing or grip. Get adjusted in your seat. Buckle up with your seatbelt and make sure you can comfortably reach all of your controls.

7. Practice Using Your Forklift

Practice using your forklift with test runs, with someone supervising you. It may take some time getting adjusted when driving the forklift in your workplace. Get in some practice sessions without lifting or moving anything, before you start using the forklift for daily jobs.

8. Operate with Caution

Move slowly and blow your horn when taking corners. Be attentive as you drive, and aware of what’s around you. Never leave the forklift running unattended. Keep in mind how much you’ll be lifting and how much room you’ll need for a load. Keep in mind any obstacles that may be above you and anything you might run into with the load you’re moving. 

9. Keep Loads Balanced and Stable

Don’t overload your forklift, or lift anything too high. Make sure it’s a balanced load that won’t tip and that it’s secure on the forks. Correctly position your load with back tilt or mast vertical while driving. If necessary, use ropes or cords to secure your load. If you’re lifting a pallet, make sure it’s not damaged, chipped, or wearing away.

10. Use Your Forklift on Ramps

You may need to use your forklift on a ramp for loading/unloading. Use a forward position on your forklift as you take the ramp, and move in reverse as you descend on the ramp. If you’re handling cargo on a truck, don’t operate the forklift on a bridge plate unless you know it can support the forklift with the load weight.

11. Park Your Forklift

Have a clear space inside that’s free of debris and out of the way of work when you park your forklift. When you’re done using your equipment, lower the forks to the ground, and apply the parking brake. Turn it off, and remove the key.

Whether you’ve decided to rent a forklift, just purchased your equipment, or haven’t used it in some time, it’s a good idea to stay up with training for safety and performance at the workplace. Make sure to take care of your machinery, take precautions, and practice using your forklift. If you’re looking to purchase new or used equipment for your worksite, be sure to see a nationwide inventory on


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Ryan Miller
Ryan Miller

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