Even if you have extensive experience operating a forklift, operator mistakes can still occur.
Each year forklift operator mistakes (which could be prevented) are still happening in the workplace.
These mistakes can lead to dire consequences for a business, as well as put lives in danger.
When operating a forklift don’t become complacent. It’s not worth the risk. Below we’ve listed 5 of the
most common forklift operator mistakes that are easily avoidable.
1. CHECK THE FORKLIFT LOAD CAPACITY (RATED CAPACITY)
Incorrect load capacity is the most common forklift operator mistake made. It’s crucial to check the load
capacity of the forklift before any operations. Carrying a load that is too heavy is a definite way to
destabilise your forklift.
The capacity is the maximum weight that the forklift can safely carry. To keep the forklift stable, you need
to consider the lift capacity, the maximum load that can be supported and vertical lift travel.
You can check the load capacity on the forklift data plate. The data plate contains all of the required
information for that forklift, such as the load the forklift can safely lift at different mast orientations, or
when there is an attachment fitted.
As the operator, it’s your responsibility to ensure the forklift you’re operating is the right fit for the task and
that it has the capacity to handle your required load.
2. FORKLIFT PRE-START SAFETY CHECKS ARE A MUST
Before you operate a forklift you should carry out a pre-operation inspection. A pre-start safety check can
reduce the risk of forklift operator mistakes occurring, and should include:
- Hydraulic fluid – Not checking hydraulic fluid can result in significant complications. Without
proper fluid levels, the forklift lifting capacity may be impacted or not work at all. The load you’re
carrying could drop, potentially harming pedestrians or damaging equipment.
- Gas and fuel levels / Battery – Is there enough gas or fuel needed to complete the task? Or is the battery fully charged? Running out of gas or power in the middle of a task could cause damage to equipment or harm to pedestrians.
- Tyre pressure – Flat or low tyre pressures can potentially cause the forklift to tip its load. A tyre
with low pressure may also burst, resulting in the forklift tipping over. Repair any issues with your
forklift tyres immediately.
- Safety signal devices – Check that the horn, audible signals, entry bar, flashing lights, indicator
lights etc. are all working properly to reduce the risk of injury to your co-workers. When carrying
loads, forklifts can present many blind spots, which is why checking these signals prior to operating
is highly important.
Forklifts also need to be regularly inspected and serviced by a professional to ensure they comply with
Australian Standard AS2359.
3. THE NEED FOR SPEED
Another major forklift operator mistake, and a common cause of workplace accidents, is speeding. There
should be a traffic management plan in place which determines the appropriate speed limits in your
workplace. These speed limits should also be clearly signposted and visible to the forklift operator.
Forklifts can be unstable and speeding or braking too fast can easily cause a forklift to topple over or lose
its load. Speeding up to get a job finished quicker can be dangerous to the operator, co-workers and
Safety should always be at the top of your list. Not following the recommended speed limits in your
workplace is an accident waiting to happen.
4. INADEQUATE COMMUNICATION
In a busy warehouse or storage yard, a forklift can be one of the most dangerous pieces of equipment.
There are often pedestrians or co-workers close to operating forklifts. This can present another common
forklift-related accident – a pedestrian getting struck by a moving forklift. By using proper communication
this type of accident can be greatly reduced.
A few ways in which good forklift communication works include:
- Advise people of your task and the route you will be taking so they are mindful of your operations.
- If possible, use an experienced signaller to assist you to safely lift a load and navigate the picking
- Have visual barriers and designated forklift operation zones to prevent any unauthorised access.
- Eye contact – with either the forklift operator or pedestrians, so you know that you are both aware
of each other.
- Use the forklift signals – the horn, flashing lights, indicator lights and hand signals.
5. IMPROPER FORKLIFT USE
When operating a forklift, proper training and common sense is key to reducing forklift operator mistakes.
You should only operate a forklift for the purpose it was designed and be vigilant about following
workplace policies and safety protocols.
It’s also important to know the forklift picking path you’ll be taking and be aware of any obstacles along the
The dangers of forklifts are usually downplayed, but forklift-related accidents are serious and can often be
FORKLIFT HIRE CAN ENSURE THE RIGHT FORKLIFT FOR THE TASK
If your current forklift isn’t right for a task in your workplace, don’t risk it. To comply with a safe workplace
have you considered forklift rental?
At Aussie Forklift Hire, we have a wide range of forklifts for hire in Sydney to ensure you can use the right
forklift to suit your requirements.
Our range of forklifts for hire in Sydney include:
- Double Deep Forklifts
- All Terrain Forklifts
- Battery Electric Forklifts
- Diesel Forklifts
- Gas Forklifts
- Pallet Movers
- Ride on Reach Trucks
- Walkie Reach Forklifts
- Walkie Stacker Forklifts
- Lithium Electric Pallet Jacks
- Forklift Attachments
Our forklift rental is available short-term or long-term and provides the benefit of getting the right
equipment for the job and improved warehouse productivity while ensuring workplace safety.
Call us today on (02) 9011 5811 or visit us in our Peakhurst location. If you’re not sure on the type of forklift
you’ll need, the team from Aussie Forklift Hire in Sydney will be more than happy to assist.