Forklift Safety Safety

Forklift Safety

A forklift is a powerful tool that allows one person to precisely lift and place large heavy loads with little effort. Using a tool such as a forklift, cart or hand truck instead of lifting and carrying items by hand can reduce the risk of employee back injuries. However, there is great risk of injury or death when a forklift operator has not been trained in the principles that allow a forklift to lift heavy loads, is not familiar with how a particular forklift operates, operates the forklift carelessly, or uses a forklift that is not safe due to malfunctioning parts.


  • All forklifts must have an ID plate – showing vehicle weight, lifting capacities, and other key safety data.
  • All forklifts must be equipped with a seatbelt. The seatbelt must be worn at all times.
  • Only one person may ride on a forklift at any time.
  • Do not lift anyone on the forks, unless you have an approved personnel lift attachment.
  • Forklift operators must receive training and an evaluation of their driving skills at a minimum of every three years.


  • Before each use, visually inspect the forklift for the ID plate, tire condition, leaks, forks/mast, chains and seat belt.
  • Inspect operation of brakes, hydraulic controls, lights, back up alarm, and horn before each operation.
  • If any item is missing or not operating correctly, report it immediately to your supervisor and do not operate.
  • Maintain a maintenance schedule according to the manufacturer.
  • When refueling, ensure all ignition sources are removed and adequate ventilation is present.


  • Operate the forklift with a defensive driving mentality. Operators must maintain control of the vehicle at all times. Pedestrians always have the right of way.
  • When lifting a load, check to ensure the load is stable and secure. Insert forks into load as far as possible. Lower load to travel height (4”-6” typically) as soon as possible.
  • Maintain stability to reduce the risk of tip-over. Watch for poor surface conditions, travel slowly, never raise a load while in motion, avoid sharp turns, and use caution on inclines and loading docks.
  • When parking, always shift into neutral, lower forks to ground level and set parking brake. If the operator is leaving the forklift unattended, turn off and remove the key. 

*Toolbox talk based on NMGC submitted by Adam Paratore – Paulsboro Refinery