Forklift Safety: 8 Tips to Keep You Safe on the Job

Forklift Safety: 8 Tips to Keep You Safe on the Job

Here you’ll find the top 8 ways to ensure you and your workers know and follow forklift safety because operating a forklift is not something that should be done carelessly. When operated in a careless manner, these vehicles have the potential to be very dangerous. In fact, approximately 85 people are killed in forklift accidents every year. Curious as to how to safely operate a forklift? Don’t stop reading now. We’re going to cover 8 tips for optimal forklift safety.

  1. Learn the Statistical Dangers. Before you begin operating a forklift, you need to look at the statistical dangers associated with the machine. This will help you to understand the importance of safe forklift operation. As was noted, around 85 Americans die in forklift accidents every year. However, this doesn’t even begin to illustrate just how dangerous forklifts can be. In addition to these deaths, the United States also experiences around 20,000 forklift-related injuries every year. In total, OSHA, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, estimates that around 110,000 forklift accidents happen annually. These accidents run the gamut from falls to overturns, to crushes, and more. The point of all of this is simple: forklifts are very dangerous pieces of machinery. They must be operated with precision and care in order to prevent accidents.
  2. Get Certified. You should never, under any circumstances, be operating a forklift without first obtaining forklift certification. In the United States, forklift operators are required by law to obtain such certification. To become forklift certified, you must take an OSHA-compliant forklift operator training course. Throughout the courses, you will receive everything from forklift operation training, to forklift safety training and more. You will learn everything there is to know about properly operating a forklift. We urge you: do not operate a forklift without the proper certification. Not only can you get in trouble with the law, but you can also cause irreparable bodily damage to yourself or others.
  3. Familiarize Yourself with Your Forklift & Operating Environment. While all forklifts perform the same general function, they vary in their construction in their performance. Before you hop on a specific forklift, you need to make sure that you can sufficiently operate it. Some of the most commonly used forklifts include rough terrain forklifts, electric motor rider trucks, and internal combustion engine trucks. Each of these forklifts works in a slightly different manner and requires a slightly different set of skills. Never, under any circumstances, operate a forklift that you’re not 100% trained and educated on. All it takes is one miscue for you to hurt yourself or others.
  4. Inspect Before Use. Before you start using a specific forklift for the day, you need to give it a thorough, in-depth inspection. This way, you can catch any potential mechanical dangers before they arise. There are a number of different things to check for during an inspection. Not only should you look for oil spots underneath the forklift, but you should also look for structural damage on the forklift. In addition to this, you should also check oil and tire levels, and test the brakes, the horn, the steering wheel, and the lights. These entities need to be operating at their optimal levels before they’re put into use.
  5. Be Aware of Your Surroundings. You should never operate a forklift without your wits about you. When operating a forklift, you need to be aware of your surroundings. Those who aren’t aware of their surroundings can make small, but costly mistakes that ultimately spell out disaster. Not only should you be aware of the load that you’re picking up and transporting, but the machines and human beings who are working near you. Keep an eye out for informative signs which have been posted throughout your work facility. Make sure to also keep an eye on informative ground lines. Signs and ground lines are established for the sole purpose of keeping everyone safe.
  6. Follow the Rules to the Tee. One of the biggest mistakes that forklift operators make is cutting corners in order to perform a task as quickly as possible. While the temptation is understandable, the reality of the situation is that doing so is very unsafe. When operating a forklift in a factory or warehouse, you need to follow the rules to a tee. This means properly strapping up loads before they’re unloaded. This also means going at or under formally established speed limits. Rules such as these are put in place for a reason, and the reason is that they keep people safe.
  7. Keep Your Eyes in The Direction of Travel. If there’s one point that we’re going to get across in this, it’s that you need to take forklift operation very seriously. Using a forklift with anything less than your full attention leaves a potential for danger. Some of the most common forklift accidents occur when forklifts run over peoples’ feet or impact them while backing up. The reason for this? The people operating these forklifts are not keeping their eyes in the direction of travel. Looking to the left and to the right and speaking with others while operating a forklift could very well result in an accident of some kind. By keeping your eyes in the direction of travel, you allow yourself to see everything in your path, allowing you to avoid hazards with plenty of clearance.
  8. Post Signs. As a teammate of a facility that makes use of forklifts, it is your responsibility to create a sufficient communication system for forklift operators. One of the ways in which this is done is by posting signs around your facility. Stop signs, speed limit signs, directional signs, and more can be used to keep your forklifts operating in a reasonable manner.


Founded in 1926, McCarthy Tire Service is a family-owned and operated tire dealer headquartered in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The company has more than 70 service locations and 11 Bandag retread tire manufacturing plants along the east coast of the United States. McCarthy Tire is the 5th largest independent commercial tire dealer and one of the top 50 retail tire dealers in the country. The company offers tire sales and service; automotive mechanical services and repairs; fleet services; truck mechanical services; 24-hour commercial roadside assistance; and retread tire manufacturing. For more information, visit


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