Forklift Safety – A Guide for Operators

Forklift Safety – A Guide For Operators

Forklifts and Electric powered jacks can cause serious injury or death to operators and pedestrians when not used properly. Below is a simple list of items operators should always do, and never do, when using the lift truck.


(Do not operate equipment unless you have been trained and are authorized to use)


  • Perform Pre-Shift equipment inspection
  • Use 3 point entry method
  • Fasten Seat Belt
  • Look all around before moving
  • Keep forks approx 3-4” off ground while traveling
  • Use safe speed (based on location & load carried)
  • Watch for pedestrians, other equipment, and overhead obstructions
  • Avoid sudden stops
  • Raise and lower load slowly and carefully
  • Stop at crossing aisles, intersections and blind spots, sound horn
  • Look behind you when backing up – don’t rely on the mirrors, sound horn
  • Park in designated areas
  • Lower forks to the ground, put controls in neutral, apply park brake
  • Use 3 point exit method



(Do not operate any lift truck unless trained and authorized to do so)

  • Operate any lift truck or electric jack not in a safe operating condition
  • Operate any hydraulic controls while outside of the operators compartment
  • Raise someone on the forks
  • Allow passengers
  • Turn while going up or down a ramp
  • Try to repair the lift truck unless authorized to do so
  • Raise the forks or load while traveling
  • Use a cell phone while moving



  • Spread forks as wide as pallet will allow
  • Use the proper capacity forklift for the weight of the load, or reduce load
  • Watch low doorways and other overhead obstructions
  • If using an attachment (Clamp, Rotator, etc) make sure you’re trained on its specific operations.


  • Lift a load to heavy for the forklifts capacity
  • Move any load that is unstable or poorly arranged
  • Travel with the load raised higher than 4” from the ground
  • Travel forward with a large load blocking your view (unless going up a ramp – see below)



  • Back down a ramp with a load
  • Go straight up a ramp with a load
  • If load blocks your view, get a spotter when going up a ramp
  • Only raise forks high enough to clear the ground


  • Attempt to turn while going up or down a ramp
  • Leave a lift unattended on a ramp



  • Make eye contact with pedestrians so you know they’re aware of you
  • Ask them to move if they don’t on their own
  • Make sure any pedestrians stay at least one full arms length away from the forklift
  • Educate and train pedestrians as to the operating characters and risks associated with lift trucks


Allow passengers or riders on the forklift other than the operator

  • Allow someone to walk under an elevated load
  • Leave the forks of the ground when the lift is unattended



  • Park in a designated area
  • Lower the forks to the ground, put the controls in neutral
  • Apply the parking brake
  • Turn off the key


  • Block a fire escape or fire aisle
  • Leave vehicle “in gear” and shut it off
  • Leave vehicle unattended with the key switch on

Forklift Safety – A Guide For OperatorsThe above guide for operators on the safe use of forklifts is not a substitute for proper operator training, nor does it authorize the use of any specific equipment, both of which are required under OSHA 1910.178(l), found here

For additional information on forklift or warehouse safety,  visit our comprehensive guide. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.