Forklifts caused 8,140 accidents and 79 deaths in 2019. Many of these were preventable. Unfortunately, many people find themselves in trouble because they ignore safety regulations, don’t have the proper training, or are rushing.

If you plan to operate a forklift, you’ll want to know what you’re doing before getting behind the controls. This will ensure the safety of yourself and those around you.

This guide will show you how to drive a forklift safely so that you can avoid common mistakes.

Read the Rules

Whether you’re buying a forklift and are a seasoned pro or renting a forklift for the first time, you should read the operating rules. Thankfully, forklift rentals typically come with a guide or user briefing before you get started. Doing this ensures you avoid the most common mistake of not following the directions.

Check the Forklift

Before you start driving a forklift, you should give it a safety check. This is when you walk around and inspect the machine. It should be in proper working order and mechanically sound.

There should be no warning lights on. The tires should be inflated and not worn out. There should be no oil leaks. The steering, brakes, and controls should all be in working order.

Get Certified

OSHA requires forklift operators to have the proper certifications before operating a forklift. There’s no requirement stating that you need training on all types of forklifts. However, you need a general idea of how forklifts work and how they differ.

If you’ve only ever trained and used a sit-down forklift, then you’ll need additional training before you switch and use a stand-up style.

Practice

It’s a smart idea to familiarize yourself with a new forklift before you start working with it. There are different types of forklifts, and it can take a bit of practice before the one you’re operating feels like second nature.

Follow the Path

Companies designate forklift paths that you should stay on. This is especially the case in warehouses. Always follow these paths because you risk running into surfaces that aren’t forklift-friendly when you leave them.

You also put others in danger because they don’t expect you to be driving a forklift off the path. They may be standing in your way, and you are unable to see them.

Don’t Overload

It can be tempting to overload your forklift or lift it too high. However, it isn’t worth risking your safety to try and get done faster. Always practice proper load balancing and transport.

Forklifts that aren’t properly balanced can tip over. This is why counterbalancing is so important. They can also tip over when lifted too high.

Now You Know How to Drive a Forklift

Now that you understand the basic rules of how to drive a forklift, you’re ready to give it a try. Remember, you’ll want to attend training, read all of the operating manuals, and practice.

Once you are on the job, don’t drink or use alcohol. Don’t rush, lift too high, or overload your forklift. Finally, never leave the designated path.

Browse our other business articles for more helpful advice on the best safety practices and procedures.

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