10 Common Forklift Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

Forklift trucks can be dangerous if not operated with care, here are 10 common forklift mistakes and how your organization can help prevent accidents.

1. Not knowing your forklift’s load capacity – Carrying a load that is too heavy is a sure-fire way of making your vehicle unstable. Be aware of your forklift’s capacity before you begin to operate it by looking at the data plate found on the truck. The plate should contain all of the relevant information and should not be tampered with in any way. If you find a plate that has been altered or obscured, you should speak to your employer.

2. Not being familiar with your route – If you are moving through a workplace that has a complex layout or has a particularly dynamic environment, be sure you are familiar with any obstacles that may cause problems on your route. Look for narrow passages or areas where there may be movement that could hinder your progress.

3. Operating with an unsecured load – Depending on the items you are carrying, you might have more difficulty than usual when securing your load. For example, a pallet is flat and quite easy to secure, whereas something with an odd or unsymmetrical shape can be more of a challenge. Take extra care when moving objects that could be prone to toppling or affecting your maneuverability.

4. No communication with workers around you – Warehouses can be very busy environments, and with so many people trying to accomplish their own tasks, it is important to maintain a high level of communication. Letting people know what you are doing and where you plan to go can help them to be mindful of your operations. Likewise, if you are not sure where a fellow member of staff plans to move, don’t get too wrapped up in your task to ask them.

5. Slipping on entry or exit from the forklift – Slips and trips are the most common cause of workplace injury, so you need to take extra care in the elevated environment of forklift controls. Make sure you are wearing suitable footwear that is not slick with any substances before using the machinery.

6. Inadequate battery and hydraulic fluid levels – Without an adequately charged battery or appropriate levels of hydraulic fluids, you will not be able to complete your job, and stopping partway could prove to be dangerous. Consult the user manual or tell your employer if this is the case.

7. Operating a truck that hasn’t been inspected – Forklifts can be dangerous if not subjected to stringent inspections, and you have responsibility to ensure the machinery is safe for use.  There are forklift specialists that can carry out essential servicing and provide certificates of examination to get your vehicle moving again as soon as possible. Let your employer know if you think that your truck is overdue an inspection.

8. Speeding with your forklift – Moving at a speed that is improper for your vehicle or environment is a common cause of accidents in the workplace. Pay attention to any speed limits or speed bumps, and whether your forklift’s speed is limited mechanically.

9. Parking incorrectly – Safety does not end when you exit the truck. Park your vehicle in authorized areas only, where other employees will expect to find stationary forklifts. Remember to lower the fork to the floor, set the direction controls to neutral, lower the parking brake and turn the ignition off.

10. Misuse of vehicles – Forklifts can be dangerous if not operated with care. Resist any temptation to use forklift trucks for anything other than their specified purpose, no matter what the situation dictates.

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