The most important thing to remember when operating any kind of powered industrial truck is safety protocols. Operating a forklift carefully and responsibly will keep you and your coworkers out of harm’s way while on the job. A forklift is a durable machine that can efficiently carry heavy loads, but it can also cause a lot of damage if not used correctly. As such, it’s important for all personnel to go through forklift training classes—here you will learn the rules of the road and how to properly operate your machine. However, in the meantime, before attending classes, take a look at our forklift driving tips to get a head start.
Make Eye Contact
There will likely be other workers around when you’re operating a forklift. A loading dock and warehouse are busy places with a lot of different things going on at once. As such, forklifts and motorized pallet jacks are in constant motion, pulling pallets and loading trucks. Aside from avoiding other operators, you’ll also need to be on the lookout for pedestrians crossing the loading dock or checking inventory. When you encounter someone on foot near your machine, make eye contact with them. This tells that person you see them and are aware of their presence. Making this small gesture a habit will force you to constantly scan for people on the floor and avoid accidents.
Keep Your View Clear
Being able to see obstructions, hazards or other trucks in your area is crucial. Just like you wouldn’t drive a car with a blackout window, you shouldn’t drive a forklift without being able to see. At no point should a forklift driver be operating blindly—an obstructed view can lead to accidents and injuries. If you are not carrying a load, it is safe to travel in the forward direction. However, you must travel in reverse whenever you’re carrying a load, as it will obstruct your field of vision. The only exception to this rule is when traveling up a ramp. If you have any size load and are driving up a ramp, the load must go up first.
Travel on the Right
Just like driving a car on the street, drive your forklift on the right-hand side. Whenever there is more than one forklift moving about a confined space, use the rules of the road to navigate safely. When approaching an intersection, slow down and make a full stop. Check to make sure it is safe before proceeding. Additionally, sound your horn as you approach any blind corner so other lifts and pedestrians know you are there.