Risky Forklift Operations That Can Be Avoided

By , Posted in Forklifts

forklift being driven safely in a warehouseWith proper training and best practices, most forklift-related injuries can be avoided. The following forklift safety tips will help you address four of the most common forklift risks, and prevent workplace accidents and injuries.


The average forklift weighs several thousand pounds and can easily tip, causing serious, even fatal injuries, if not operated properly.

  • Ensure the load is stable and balanced on the forks.
  • Never ride with an elevated load.
  • Keep the load uphill when going up or down an incline.
  • Use extra caution on ramps, and wet or slippery surfaces.
  • Slow down when making turns and avoid sharp turns.

Pedestrian Accidents

As a general rule, operators should obey speed limits, watch for pedestrians, sound horns, and avoid driving close to employees. Likewise, pedestrians should not wear ear buds, headphones or anything that could obstruct their hearing.

  • Separate pedestrian and forklift traffic with designated walkways.
  • Install overhead dome mirrors on blind corners.
  • Restrict workers from entering areas where forklifts are in use.
  • Never obstruct the driver’s view with the forklift load.
  • Restrict forklift use near time clocks, break rooms or anywhere foot traffic is high.


While falls account for a smaller percentage of forklift injuries than turnovers and pedestrian accidents, they are also easier to prevent.

  • Remain inside the operator’s compartment while using a forklift, and wear a seat belt.
  • Never allow passengers to ride on forklift trucks unless a seat is provided.
  • Never allow workers to ride on the forks.
  • Use only an approved and secured lifting cage when elevating personnel.
  • Use restraining means such as rails, chains or a body belt when on the platform.

Mechanical Malfunctions

As with any equipment, forklifts should be inspected regularly and properly maintained. A defect in a forklift’s parts or mechanics can mean the difference between life and death.

  • Regularly inspect brakes, steering and forklift mast assembly.
  • Remove forklifts from service when defects are discovered.
  • Perform routine maintenance on the hydraulic system and transmission.
  • Replace missing, inadequate or malfunctioning safety devices, such as horns and lights.
  • Decommission old and outdated forklifts.

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