Daily Forklift Operation Checklist: What You Need to Know

Authored by Pat McAssey
May 22, 2014


Operating a forklift is fun and can be exciting. However, it is no cake walk. You must adhere to strict guidelines and safety practices to get the most out of your experience as a forklift operator and to achieve optimal results. Here are some procedures and common practices to consider when operating a forklift, on a daily basis:

1. Is the operator under the age of eighteen years old? – This can be a big no-no for insurance reasons and safety reasons.

2. Does the operator hold a commercial drivers license? – While this is not a requirement, a commercial driver is generally more seasoned than an amateur driver. This is imperative when operating a heavy machine like a forklift.

3. Are both your hands free and ready to use the forklift? – Don’t smoke, don’t operate a cell phone, don’t play with a tablet, keep your hands free and your attention resting solely on the forklift. Distractions force reaction time to diminish and not having both hands available and ready, can be disastrous.

4. Did you carefully inspect and check the forklift before operation? – Sometimes there are faulty wires and leaks that go undetected. This can be extremely hazardous when considering the nature of the load and how heavy it can be. If equipment were to malfunction, not only could the load be destroyed…but a person’s welfare can be in jeopardy. Make sure you carefully “once-over” the forklift before you begin your shift or use it in any operation.

5. Did you drink any alcohol less than four hours before using the forklift? – Many state department of motor vehicle agencies often cite a four hour window of no alcohol prior to operating a commercial vehicle. The same guidelines and standards should be applied here. Also, this means four hours of sobriety. If you are coming in from a night on the town, four hours may give you optimal time to sober up. However, you still may very well be under the influence of alcohol and as a result have delayed reaction time. Delayed reaction time can be the difference between life and death, in some instances.

6. Did you consider the load? – Sometimes loads are just to big for a forklift to handle. Make sure your forklift can readily access the palates and take on the load without any strain or consequence. Failing to do so can be costly. Both the machinery and load can be damaged or compromised by improper use and loading.

7. Is anyone in the area of the operation? – Many times forklift operators rely on spotters to see things from a different vantage point and angle. Make sure your spotter and any other personnel in the area are clear of the loading zone. Spotters can be a wonderful resource but need to be made a priority.

8. Have you used a forklift before? – Loading a bulk or operating a forklift is not an easy task. For a novice or beginner, they should not be using the forklift to unload or load palates from high lengths. Put the hard jobs in the hand of experts.

Adhering to these simple tips will ensure that your use of a forklift is a safe and profitable venture.