The Importance of Daily Forklift Operator Checks

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The purpose of daily forklift operator checks is to evaluate whether the forklift operator is conducting their business in a safe way. If you, as a forklift operator, do not take responsibility, to correctly maintain and keep your forklift in a serviceable condition, there is potential to cause accidents, injury or even death. Contact us for your forklift training to learn all the key factors before and after operating a forklift. 


The Importance of Daily Forklift Operator Checks


OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) requires that forklift vehicles have to be inspected at least daily, or after each shift when they have been used around the clock. This inspection helps contribute to a safer working environment and prevent costly lift truck repairs. 

A forklift can become a dangerous thing in a workplace for workers, visitors and the people around it. There are lots of things you can do to prevent injuries, such as risk assessments, ongoing operator monitoring, reporting incidents and practical, hands-on training

However, there is one precaution in particular that you should pay close attention to and is the practice of daily checks. These pre-inspections are very important as they can identify small problems and stop them becoming bigger problems. There are a number of benefits of doing a pre-inspection check; it can reduce your costs, increase uptime, and improve battery life. 

When forklift drivers fail to inspect their forklifts prior to use, accidents like this can happen. A 43 year-old man was killed while using a forklift to unload steel tubing from a flatbed trailer.

Turning the forklift behind the trailer, the forklift began to turn over on its side. The driver jumped from the seat toward the driveway where his head and neck were ultimately pinned under the forklift’s overhead guard.

An inspection revealed slack in the steering mechanism that required the driver to turn the steering wheel more than half a revolution before the wheels started to turn and a damaged right-side rear axle stop that didn’t restrict lateral sway as the forklift turned. Tragically, this forklift was not equipped with a seat belt.

well-maintained forklift is crucial to prevent accidents and you should be reminded about the importance of pre-use inspections.


Before Starting Your Forklift


What specifically are forklift operators to check for?  At the beginning of a shift, or just prior to use, a operator must perform two checks: (1) visual check and (2) operational check. Regardless of how often the lifting equipment is used or how it is performing, the inspection still needs to be done.

Forklifts must be kept safe and fit for every operator because it saves lives, prevents injury, and protects equipment and inventory from expensive damage. Employers should take steps to ensure that inspections are not overlooked and that operators are trained and competent to inspect the equipment. 

Here are seven key considerations for you to look out for when tackling to improve safety with pre-shift forklift inspections.

  1. Keep it simple –  Forklift operators need to know how to check the general working parts of the truck for signs of damage or wear.

  2. Check every time – If  anything has gone wrong from the previous day or shift, check all faults have been rectified.

  3. Understand the law –   If you do not carry out a pre-use inspection, you are breaking the law by failing your duty of care for yourself and to others.

  4. Be specific – a specific pre-shift sheet should be used for every type of truck and cover all the major parts that should be checked.

  5. Manage and supervise – It is vitally important that managers and supervisors understand pre-use checks themselves in order to assess whether the correct procedures are being followed.

  6. Provide training – Suitable training should be provided to ensure operators have these essential skills.

  7. Stay safe – Remember the basic skills and operate the forklift safely, even when doing a pre-use check.

Forklift pre-shift inspections only take a few minutes to ensure your safety, the safety of the people around you and the safety of your forklift.


Here Is What an Operator Should Look
for Carrying Out Their Visual Daily (Circle) Checks:


The first and most important rule to follow with forklifts is – get trained! Having a daily inspection checklist as part of your routine will create a safer workplace and will save you money.

A forklift operator should run through the entirety of this checklist and log their data; this will reduce the guesswork of what the forklift is ready to do. It can also reduce expenses through avoidable repairs.

The best way to start your inspection is to approach it from top down, beginning with the overhead guard. Ge into the same routine as this will provide you with a sense of structure and familiarity. 

What should an operator inspect during the visual pre-use check?

  • General condition and cleanliness – should be free of lint, excess oil, and grease

  • Floor – clear of objects that could cause an accident.

  • Overhead – no obstructions—interfering with safe forklift usage.

  • Nearby objects to avoid as you drive away.

  • Fire extinguisher – present and charged.

  • Engine oil level, fuel level, radiator water level (LPG, gas and diesel forklifts) are good.

  • Battery – fully charged; no exposed wires; plug connections not loose, worn or dirty; vent caps not clogged; electrolyte levels in cells is adequate, and is secured in place by hold downs or brackets.

  • Bolts, nuts, guards, chains, or hydraulic hose reels are not damaged, missing or loose.

  • Wheels and tires – check for wear, damage, and air pressure, if pneumatic tires.

  • Forks – forks not bent; no cracks present; positioning latches in good working condition; carriage teeth not broken, chipped or worn.

  • Chain anchor pins – not worn, loose or bent.

  • Fluid leaks – no damp spots or drips.

  • Hoses – held securely; not loose, crimped, worn or rubbing.

  • Horn – working and loud enough to be heard in the working environment; other warning devices operational.

  • Seat belt and/or operator restraint device (if equipped) – belts and restraints work properly; no visible wear or damage; anchors, buckles, etc. function properly.

  • Overhead guard – no damaged areas.

Every forklift is different with different parts and therefore they need to be checked during a walk around inspection.

The operator should refer to the Operation & Maintenance manual for diagrams and information on the particular forklift that is being inspected. Use your senses of sound, sight, smell and touch. Ask us about our pre-shift checklist. 


What an Operator Needs to Check During the Pre-start Operational Check:


When it comes to operating a forklift that can handle tons of loads, you need to prevent mechanical or operational failures by conducting a physical operational check

Maintaining a safe workplace is key to business success. After completing the pre-operation inspection, operators should conduct an operational inspection with the engine running. The forklift can be placed into service once it has passed all the operational checks. 

The OHSA Reg: 1910.178(q)(7) states any problems with the inspection should be recorded on the appropriate documents and reported to a supervisor immediately. 

  • Foot Brake – pedal holds, unit stops smoothly.

  • Parking Brake – holds against slight acceleration.

  • Lift Mechanism – operates smoothly (check by raising forks to max height then lowering forks).

  • Tilt Mechanism – moves smoothly, holds (check by tilting mast all the way forward and backward).

  • Deadman Seat Brake – holds when operator rises from seat.

  • Clutch and Gearshift – shifts smoothly with no jumping or jerking.

  • Dash Control Panel – all lights and gauges are operational.

  • Steering – moves smoothly.

  • Cylinders and Hoses – not leaking after above checks.

  • Listen for any unusual sounds or noises.

Remember that the operational check must be carried out by a competent trained person . If the operator notes any of these conditions while driving, the operator must stop, park the vehicle and get assistance.


After Starting The Forklift:


Once you have completed the initial check (Before Starting The Forklift) you’re not done just yet. It’s extremely important to practice safe driving, here are just a few rules to follow when operating your forklift.

  • Always look in all directions before proceeding. 

  • Always look in the direction of travel. If the load blocks your view, travel in reverse. Keep a clear view.

  • Maintain a safe distance, safe speed, and keep the truck in control at all times.

  • Yield the right of way to pedestrians

  • Do not pass other trucks in the same direction.

  • Absolutely no stunt driving or horseplay.

  • Beware of the environment conditions – slow down for wet and slippery floors.

  • Never carry passengers.

  • Keep arms and legs inside the confines of your vehicle.

  • Be especially careful on loading docks; stay away from the edge.


Stay Safer On The Job With Wayco!

A serious workplace injury or death changes lives forever – for families, friends, communities, and coworkers too. Our training programs will provide you with all the skills and knowledge you need to properly and safely operate a forklift. Start your forklift training today!

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