Forklift Safety Checklist

Did you know that forklifts often weigh more than 3 tonnes and travel around 15km/h. Forklifts are everyday equipment in factories, warehouses and construction sites, but many people do not realize they can be potentially dangerous. Safety is no accident. That is why it is a good idea to have a forklift safety checklist and follow it carefully. If you have any question about implementing and following your own forklift safety checklist, contact us today. We’d love to help you.


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Forklift Safety Checklist


Forklifts pose a potential threat to workers everyday. Operating a forklift should always be done properly to ensure the safe handling of products and most importantly to ensure the safety of the employees. Never hand over the forklift keys before knowing that the operator knows all of  the important guidelines for using a forklift.

🗸 Examine Forklifts Before Every Shift 


It is important the forklift operator performs a Pre shift Operator Inspection before every shift and  thoroughly identify any hazards in the workplace area before starting. Inform your supervisor immediately of any identified issues, problems, questions or concerns.

If any are discovered then the truck should be removed from service. Keep an operator forklift safety checklist in a designated area where the operator has easy access to it.

🗸 Never Leave Keys in Forklift Unattended

A forklift is a dangerous tool if the operator is not trained to use it. Leaving keys in an unattended forklift is illegal even without the actual occurrence of an accident. The truck should be turned off, and the key should be removed from the ignition and stored in its proper location. Only a trained certified operator can be entrusted with heavy machinery.

🗸 Starting And Stopping your forklift

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After identifying and addressing all the hazards, you should follow these safety practices:

  • Getting on and off properly: Getting on and off your forklift the proper way ensures that the operator is stable enough to avoid falling and prevent any injuries.

  • Footwear: Wearing the appropriate shoes will give you a firm grip and solid footing when mounting or dismounting the forklift. 

  • Seat belt: A seat belt is mandatory; the law requires you to wear the seat belt at all times when operating a forklift.

  • Lower forks: Another key factor to safe forklift operation is that the forks should be lowered to the floor whenever the vehicle is parked.

  • Use Designated Paths: Follow the company rules and regulations, always take the safest or designated path in the warehouse.

  • Stopping and Parking: When stopping your forklift lower the forks when left unattended. Place controls in neutral and shut off power. Always use the parking brake and block wheels when parked on an incline. Park on a level surface and in authorized area. Remove the key from the ignition. Improper parked forklift runs the risk of rolling into pedestrians or being hit. 

🗸 Driving Safety

While driving, make sure you always keep an eye out for other people around you, especially those on foot. Pedestrian Awareness training should cover the basic hazards related to forklifts, and the rules that need to be followed. Important rules to remember include:


√ Watch for blind spots and drive slowly 
√ Follow all signs and regulations
√ Never carrying passengers 
√ Do not drive with forks too high
√Alert others of your coming with a horn or your voice
√ Never drive trucks up to anyone standing in front of a bench or other fixed object 
√ Always check carefully before turning or backing up the vehicle
√ Avoid running over loose objects

Always maintain a safe distance, never placing arms outside the running lines of the truck. Make sure there is enough room for the forklift to clear from lights, pipes or sprinkler systems. It is also important to always yield to all emergency vehicles in the plant. 

🗸 Steering and Turning Safety

Think it can’t be that much different than driving a car? Think again. For one thing, forklifts are a lot more top-heavy than cars; especially when their forks are extended up the mast. Cars and trucks use their front wheels to steer.


Forklifts can turn in a very tight circle because it steers with the rear wheels. What this means is that with a forklift the front wheels are used to support most of the load with the forklift’s rear end swinging in a circle around the front wheel.

So remember a forklift’s rear steering makes it difficult to stop a it quickly. An essential part of staying safe, is recognizing the importance of not driving fast or rounding corners too quickly.

It could be extremely dangerous, tipping over and the risk of injuring a pedestrian as well as yourself. Even the expert forklift drivers find it difficult to swerve and still maintain control of the forklift.

The whole forklift can tip over with one wrong move. You should fully stop before changing directions and slow down before you turn. Do not turn with raised forks or if you are on a grade. The more experience you have steering a forklift the easier it becomes; it’s like riding a bike.

🗸 Safe and Smooth loading and Unloading


The most common forklift accident that happens in the workplace occurs by tumbling loads in which operators were not properly secured to their seat.

A forklift tipping can lead to product loss, damaged equipment, and potential injury to the forklift operator. Only handle stable loads, and never exceed the loaded capacity of the truck. The best way to ensure that a tip-over will never happen is to have the operators educated in the safety aspects of operating forklifts.

Driving on inclines: Driving on an incline requires extra caution. Place loads back by the mast; that is where it is most stable. Direct your forklift forward when driving up ramps, but go downhill in reverse. Do not turn forklift or load / unload on the ramp. Make sure dockboards have been properly secured before they are driven over.

Visibility:  Always make sure your path is clear and watch for the dangerous areas that are clearly marked. Have a good view of and easy access to the location or rack where you must position your load. 

Operate the forklift in reverse to improve visibility and operation control if your load obstructs your view. Enlist the assistance of a helper to guide or lookout between obstacles and people. Headlights, mirrors and other visual aids should be equipped on a forklift for safety. 

Loading/Unloading: Never load trucks beyond the allowed approved capacity.  The load must be strapped in place and balanced on both forks before moving the vehicle.

Make sure that all decaying, warped or otherwise damaged skids, pallets or wrapping material is clear and free from your load. When loading or unloading shelves, ensure the storage shelves/racks, and dock plate are properly secured.

Do not tow or push with a forklift. Drive carefully and slowly over the plate and do not spin wheels. Turn the forklift slowly into position, squaring it up to the drop-off location.

🗸 Tip Over Safety

Forklifts usually either tip forward or to the side; this happens for different reasons. The most important thing to remember is that the center of gravity should always stay positioned inside the wheel base; too far forward or too far left or right increases the risk of a tip over. Here are a few more reasons why a tip over can happen causing serious injury:

√ Operator exceeds the load capacity of the forklift
√ Extreme speed when turning the lift
√ Turning on an incline or uneven surface
√ Lift gets too close to an edge on the floor traveling with the load too high
√ Turning or braking too quickly with a raised load 
√ Unstable load or oddly shaped load that is too tall or wide


Driving into a pothole, turning a corner, carrying an uneven load or driving on a sloped surface can cause the forklift to lose proper balance and tip over.

If a tip over does occur, do not try to jump out of the vehicle, stay in the forklift and hold on to the steering wheel. 

Most people want to jump and get out of the way, however, a forklift will continue into a roll, usually crushing or pinning the worker underneath. Brace your feet and lean forward. Lean away for the side of impact.

A few more important safety pointers to help your forklift from tipping over:

  • When traveling on a sloped surface, ensure the load is facing uphill 

  • Position the forks no higher than 4-6 inches above the ground when traveling

  • When lowering or picking up a load, tilt the mast forward

  • When traveling, the load should be tilted backwards

  • Never brake suddenly with a raised load

  • Make sure you have enough space when traveling underneath overhead obstructions or through a doorway

  • Fork load should not be beyond the maximum capacity of the truck


Stay Safe On The Job With Wayco!

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For every type of forklift, the rules are simple: follow the safety tips, get properly trained, become educated about the safety of the equipment and reduce risks associated with forklift operation.

You should always observe the workplace and identify any workplace hazards that might affect the forklift. Employers should establish safe workplace practices for all work involving forklifts. Putting these forklift safety tips into effect at your company should give you and your fellow co-workers a better chance of going home safely at the end of the day.  

Contact us today to learn more about our safety training.

“We purchased a used forklift from Wayco in January. It was extremely clean and in excellent condition when it was delivered. We have also had incredible ongoing service from the professionals at Wayco. Overall dealing with them has been an excellent experience.”

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