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9 tips for working safely with a forklift

Written by Frank Schoenmakers | Last update: 23-6-2021

Driving a forklift you are suddenly forced to swerve. A co-worker accidentally crosses your path, giving you no other choice than to intervene. The quick movement causes the load of the forklift to tip over. Miraculously neither of you gets injured. Situations like these frequently occur. Also often situations occur with a more dramatic ending. That is why in this article we provide 9 tips for working safely with a forklift.

1. Ensure you hold a forklift certificate

It is important that you drive a forklift only when sufficiently instructed. Otherwise there is too high a risk of accidents. Despite the fact that obtaining a forklift certificate is not compulsory, it is recommended to hold one when driving a forklift. By following a training, you learn how to adequately steer a forklift and you learn about the traffic rules and how to recognize hazards. 

2. Perform regular maintenance

Little effort, but very important: having maintenance carried out. In order to prevent malfunctions on the vehicle, it is wise to have the forklift inspected every year. Carefully keep to the maintenance schedule and make sure that parts are timely replaced. In addition it is obvious that mirrors, a horn, a safety belt and preferably a safety cage are used. 

3. Set clear rules

Are many forklifts used within the company? Then set clear rules for all forklift drivers and other personnel working in the same area. See to it that employees/co-workers observe those rules to ensure safety. For instance (marked) transport and walk ways, traffic rules and rules for sounding the horn when approaching a sharp curve. 

4. Carry out a standard check

Before using the forklift, always perform a brief check. Walk around the vehicle and check for damage, loose parts, soft or flat tires and other defects. Be sensible and do not use the forklift when you have identified defects during the check. 

5. Wear protective clothing

Another important aspect regarding working safely with a forklift, is protective clothing. Without wearing protective clothing you shouldn't even come near a forklift. Protect your limbs by wearing protective clothing. These could be safety shoes with steel noses, a safety helmet, safety goggles and gloves. 

6. Reduce your speed

Always bear in mind pedestrians and possible other forklift users and reduce your speed near cluttered locations and junctions. Also when accelerating or braking it is imperative to reduce your speed and prevent the load of the forklift from tilting. 

7. Prevent the forklift from becoming overloaded 

Every forklift has a maximum load for a reason. Still, many accidents take place because this is neglected. Never exceed this workload and do not apply any additional weight by giving a co-worker a lift. Only one person is allowed on a forklift when it is moving. 

8. See to safety signs

In the operation area - where vehicles are moving - hang enough safety and warning signs. This way visitors and employees will be aware immediately that there are moving vehicles in the area that they must be alert to. 

9. Pay attention to the position of the forks

Park the forklift correctly. This requires paying attention to the position of the forks. See to it that it is in lowest position and the vehicle leans slightly forward. This way the forklift is least likely to cause damage. Finally, when leaving the forklift it is important to apply the parking brake and remove the ignition key.

More information about working safely with a forklift

Do you have questions about working safely with a forklift, or would you like customized advice? Then contact one of our crop protection specialists, or submit your question via form below. We will contact you as soon as possible - even within 24 hours on work days. 

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Frank Schoenmakers About Frank Schoenmakers

With over 30 years of experience, having been a mechanisation product specialist, Frank Schoenmakers has gained significant experience within the horticulture sector. Over the past years he has specialised in spraying techniques. How he feels About that himself? "The great thing about my job is that I can use my knowledge to help growers to improve their cultivation. The reciprocal appreciation is quite valuable."

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