A forklift expert’s top 10 dos and don’ts when operating a forklift 

From afar, operating a forklift may seem like a simple task. However, for an inexperienced operator, there can be a lot to learn. While forklifts are certainly an essential tool for many industries, forklifts can cause serious injuries and fatalities. To reduce the risk of an incident, it’s important to understand the safety protocols and ensure you follow them at all times when driving your machine. 

Plus, while understanding safety measures is a great start, paying attention to tips from experienced forklift operators can also help you improve your warehouse efficiency. To help get you started, we’ve outlined our 10 top dos and don’ts when driving a forklift. 


Operate under the influence of drugs or alcohol

When operating a forklift, it is critical to be switched on and aware of your surroundings at all times. Illicit drugs and alcohol may cause the operator to experience impaired vision, judgement and balance. 

Use your phone while driving a forklift

Just like driving a car, texting or using your mobile phone while operating a forklift is a distraction that can have deadly consequences. During operation, it’s recommended that you leave your phone switched off and packed away to ensure you are not tempted. 

Drive the forklift while the load is elevated in any way

Driving your forklift while the load is unstable is an easy way for it to tip over. Never drive the forklift with the load raised in the air, as this can cause the operator to lose control and the forklift to fall quickly. 

Lift your load too high

Proper load balancing is imperative for safe forklift operations. If your forklift were to tip, it could result in severe damage to the forklift and harm to the operator. To reduce the risk, carrying an evenly balanced load is critical. In addition, avoid driving with the tines raised too high, either loaded or unloaded, as this can cause your forklift to tip over.

Go above the speed limit

When driving a forklift, always operate at a safe speed and never exceed the limit. As a general rule, avoid travelling at more than 5mph when inside and 20mph when outside. Ensure you slow down when turning corners, lifting a heavy load or changing directions.  


Follow safety measures

The first and most important step when driving a forklift is to understand safety instructions and ensure you and your team follow them accordingly. Safety measures may include wearing a seatbelt, dressing in high-visibility clothing, conducting a pre-start safety check and paying close attention to pedestrians. It’s important to refresh your knowledge by conducting regular safety training.

Drive in reverse if normal vision is obscured by tall loads

When operating a forklift, it’s essential to have clear visibility at all times. Choose to operate in reverse where this will improve visibility, except when travelling up ramps. If your visibility is poor, don’t take the risk and request help from a nearby worker. 

Consider your surroundings

When operating a forklift, it’s essential that you only operate in the designated area. Pay close attention to the rules and guidelines of the work site, and ensure clear signage is in the right locations. Pay close attention to pedestrians at all times, honking your horn when turning corners or when your vision may be impaired. 

Ensure your load is stable and secure

When transporting inventory, you must never load your forklift over its capacity. Always double-check that your load is safe and secure before you begin driving to reduce the risk of your machine tipping. 

Use Hyworth Forklifts

Hiring or buying a forklift from a certified dealer is the first step to ensure driving is smooth, safe, and improves your workplace productivity. At Hyworth Forklifts, all our machines are maintained to the highest standard. By taking the time to match you with the perfect machine for your environment, our team is confident that you will be able to achieve your goals. 

This blog provides a helpful starting point for anyone looking to learn the basics of forklift operations. However, it is critical to undergo thorough forklift training before operating and seek advice from an experienced driver. 

If you’re looking to reduce your safety concerns and to find out more about efficient forklift operation, contact our skilled and helpful team today on 1300 499 678.

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