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January 24, 2022
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Forklift Operations

Forklifts operations can be hazardous to both the driver and pedestrians. When operating a forklift, implement these safe practices:

  • Never drive a forklift up to anyone standing in front of a fixed object. Workers can be seriously injured or killed when crushed between the forklift and a fixed object.
  • Never allow anyone to stand or pass under the elevated portion of any truck, whether loaded or empty.
  • Control the unit from the operator’s seat with the seat belt securely fastened.
  • Do not allow coworkers to ride on the equipment.
  • Keep your arms and legs inside the running lines of the forklift and away from the area between the uprights of the mast. The running lines of a forklift are the four vertical supports attached to the overhead guard. Arms and legs positioned outside of the running lines can be crushed between the forklift and stationary objects.
  • When leaving a forklift unattended, fully lower the forks, place the controls in neutral or park, shut off the power, set the park brake, and chock the wheels if parked on an uneven grade.
  • Maintain a safe distance from the edge of ramps or platforms when operating on an elevated dock.
  • Obey posted speed limits, and maintain a safe distance from other moving vehicles in the immediate vicinity.
  • Operate the forklift at a speed that will permit the lift to stop in a safe manner.
  • Slow down and sound the horn at cross aisles and other locations where vision is obstructed.
  • Never attempt to pass forklifts traveling in the same direction at intersections, blind spots, and other dangerous locations.
  • If the load obstructs forward view, travel in reverse while facing the direction of travel or use a trained spotter to direct movement.
  • When ascending or descending grades in excess of 10%, drive with the load upgrade. The load and forks also should be tilted back, if applicable, and only raised as far as necessary to clear the road surface.

Source: Joe Mlynek is president of Progressive Safety Services LLC, Port Clinton, OH:, and content creation expert for Safety Made Simple Inc., Olathe, KS;



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Safety Tip of the Week is edited by Managing Editor Tucker Scharfenberg and published each Monday by Grain Journal, Decatur, IL

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