Earning your forklift license is only the beginning of the learning process. Sure, you get educated on the basics during training, so you can become certified, but this does not begin to cover everything there is to learn. Every day will be a new learning experience, but it sure is a lot easier, if you have helpful tips and tricks to keep in mind to get you started. This list should help.
Check Equipment Before Every Shift – Just because you oversleep, get stopped by every red light, and can’t find a parking space does not give you the excuse to skip your pre-shift inspection. Your forklift is your responsibility. Don’t assume the person who used the equipment before you did a thorough inspection after their shift. Forklifts can be very dangerous. Take control of your safety with a pre-shift inspection. Get your FREE Inspection sheet
Wear Proper Gear – Being comfortable is important in this position. If you work outside in the winter or in an unheated warehouse it is vital that you keep warm or your reaction time slows down. In the heat, you need a moisture-wicking base layer to keep you dry. Protective footwear is important, and you may need to wear a hard hat.
Enter and Exit Carefully – Believe it or not, many forklift accidents occur simply from entering and exiting the cabin. You may have a big step to clear. When people start to get too comfortable, accidents happen. You might think it is okay to try to jump in with your hands full or you might forget to check the step for grease before you exit. Stay alert.
Look Up – It is important to always know that there are no low obstacles you could hit. Low wires, a sign, protruding rack, door frame, etc., can all be dangerous. Know the height of your forklift and the load you are carrying. Make sure you can clear the overhead obstacle before proceeding.
Keep Loads Low – While driving with a load, you want to keep the forks as low to the ground as possible, while maintaining the stability triangle. Moving a load with your forks too high could cause you to tip over, but it could also cause something to fall from the load and land someone.
Don’t Get Distracted – As a forklift operator, you will probably have a lot more freedom and less supervision than you are used to. For example, if you were working on an assembly line in a factory, you would have a few supervisors constantly lurking around. Forklift operators rarely have much supervision. This does not mean you can get lazy, talk more than you should to others, or simply become unfocused.
Practice Ramps – Traveling on ramps can be intimidating with an empty truck. Just imagine how you will feel the first 50 times you have to move a load up or down the ramp. Move in a forward position when driving up and move in reverse while going down. Most importantly never try to turn on a ramp. It is recommended to practice basic moves on a ramp before attempting a full load.