What is Forklift Safety? | SafetyCulture (2023)

What is Forklift Safety?

Forklift safety is the set of procedures utilized for the proper use of forklifts including before and after forklift operations. These forklift safety procedures will minimize the risk of incidents and ensure that the operator and the people within the vicinity are protected.

Forklift Operator Requirements

There are numerous procedures that are in compliance with industry standards such as OSHA’s to ensure forklift safety in the workplace. The most basic operational procedure that was set by OSHA, 1910.178(q)(7), states that industrial trucks such as forklifts should be inspected every day before they’re placed in the service area. Forklifts used round-the-clock should be examined every shift. Defects or signs of wear and tear should be reported immediately. These forklift inspections can be conveniently recorded by using a digital checklist such as these forklift checklists.

Forklift operators are required to participate in and complete training before they’re allowed to operate the forklift. While OSHA doesn’t provide forklift certifications, forklift operators can get training from outside their company and get a certificate for completion of training.

Employers are responsible for certifying that the training provided was adequate and in compliance with OSHA guidelines. The required training content can be found in 1910.178(l)(3). This provision is intended for initial forklift operator training, it also stated to only include topics that are applicable to your work area.

OSHA-powered industrial truck standards recommend that employers give refresher training courses, 1910.178(l)(4), in the following events:

(Video) Forklift Safety Video - OSHA Training for Forklift Operators

  • The forklift operator was using the machine in an unsafe manner
  • The forklift operator had been involved in an incident or near-miss accident
  • The forklift operator was evaluated to be unsafely operating the equipment
  • The forklift operator will be using a different type of forklift or truck

Additionally, OSHA standard 1910.178(l)(4)(iii) states that the employer is required to evaluate the forklift operator every 3 years.

Why Is It Important?

Operating a forklift is not an easy task as driving a regular vehicle. Forklift-related accidents account for 79 fatalities and 8,140 nonfatal work-related injuries in the year 2019 according to the National Security Council. These numbers are less than what it was two decades ago when CDC reported that there were 100 fatalities while 20,000 accounts for nonfatal injuries.

In the years that followed, newer technology emerged and the implementation of safety standards has been better. Statistics show that the number of forklift-related injuries are slowly decreasing every year. There is a potential to reach zero work-related forklift injuries if only employers complied with the safety regulations and forklift operators received proper training and support.

Hazards and How to Keep Employees Safe

OSHA estimates that around 20-25% of forklift related injuries are caused by inadequate training while CDC listed the top 4 types of forklift incidents which are forklift overturns (22%), worker on foot struck by forklift (20%), victim crushed by forklift (16%), fall from forklift (9%). For fatal accidents, 42% is caused by forklifts tipping over (OSHA).

The following table is the complete data for forklift operations fatalities as provided by OSHA:

Type of AccidentPercentage
Crushed by tipping vehicle42%
Crushed between vehicle and a surface25%
Crushed between two vehicles11%
Struck or run over by vehicle10%
Struck by falling material8%
Fall from platform on forks4%
Accidental activation of controls2%

Forklift accidents can cause the company to incur additional operating costs due to the damage on products and property. Additionally, in the event of personnel-related injuries, employers can be responsible for covering hospital, recovery, and other work-related injury expenses.

(Video) 4 Facts 4 Forklifts - Safety Training Video - Prevent Forklift Accidents

The best way to prevent forklift incidents is to be aware of the safety hazards and factors present in the work area.

Common factors of Forklift Accidents

Here are the common reasons why forklift accidents may occur in the workplace and the corresponding forklift safety tips:

  • Speeding – set a speeding limit while operating a forklift. A supervisor should consistently remind forklift operators to stay on or below the speed limit. A forklift operator has the possibility of preventing major incidents such as running over someone if they maintain the proper speed.
  • Moving while the load is elevated – the fork should stay on rest to safely move between destinations while carrying a load. This will allow the operator to have better visibility and control.
  • Unaware pedestrians – Remind all employees to stay away from the path for forklifts and to be vigilant of their surroundings. Pedestrians are also in charge of their own safety and shouldn’t rely on vehicle operators when it’s safer and easier for a person to move away. Both Forklift operators and pedestrians can help each other stay safe and create a culture of safety in the workplace.
  • Loads that exceed the weight limit – This cannot only cause damage to the forklift but also cause major accidents such as forklift overturns. Predetermine the weight limit per forklift model and have a supervisor double-check the current load.
  • Other improper driving methods – Properly trained forklift operators should be knowledgeable on how to turn, back up, and use the brakes. Correct forklift driving techniques should be part of the required refresher training.

Overlooked Aspects of Forklift Accidents

Here are some aspects that are easily overlooked by people in the facility:

  • Jumping out of the forklift – There is a high chance of fatality whenever a forklift operator attempts to jump out of the forklift in accidents such as forklift tipping over. To avoid getting crushed by a forklift, supervisors should remind operators to brace themselves and stay in the forklift in case a forklift is tipping over.
  • Signage and markers – Similar to road signs, the facility or area a forklift covers should have visible signs on the floor, aisle, and all around. These signs are usually painted on and display the flow of traffic. Some other signs are “stop and look at hazards” for junctions, and labels such as “loading area.”
  • Crowded pathway – Facilities should have enough space for a forklift to maneuver on. This space should be big enough for a forklift operator to back out off and change directions. Pedestrians should avoid crossing crowded pathways and take another route.
  • Inspection and maintenance of forklifts – As time goes on, wear and tear due to the frequency of using the forklift can occur. Daily inspections are required to help keep forklift operations safe and in compliance with regulations. Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that inspections are conducted by the operator before and after their shifts.

Additionally, here are some basic forklift safety tips and protocols:

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(Video) Forklift Safety

Forklift Safety Tips: Dos and Donts | SafetyCulture

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(Video) Forklift Tests, Questions and Answers


There are 3 parts of forklift training: formal learning, practical application, and evaluation.

Formal Learning

Formal learning is the initial forklift training an aspiring forklift operator will have to take. As stated earlier, OSHA has recommendations on what the courses should contain. There are many available courses and this stage in training could be taken online. Mobile training applications such as EdApp provide completion certificates for all their courses. Here’s an example of the Forklift Operation Safety Course for initial training. The course is divided into three sections: Pre-operation, Travelling and Maneuvering, and Load Handling.

Practical Application

This training stage is applying what you have learned from formal learning. Employers are responsible for providing forklift training to their employees. While this stage of forklift training can be taken outside of the organization, only employers can certify their employees. Supervisors need to be knowledgeable, skillful, and experienced because they are responsible for monitoring forklift operators after their certification.


Managers and supervisors are required to evaluate their forklift operators in a timely manner. Evaluations are used to ensure that the forklift operator’s skills and knowledge are up-to-date. These evaluations can show which areas need improvement and to keep the forklift operators, pedestrians, and facility safe from incidents. Furthermore, this stage is done on a continuous basis. Frequent evaluations can uncover repetitive incidents and other issues that could be corrected. To avoid missing an inspection or an evaluation, the facility should use digital checklist tools that can be assigned to specific employees. Here’s an example of an forklift operator safety checklist:

What is Forklift Safety? | SafetyCulture (2)

(Video) Linde Forklift Driver Safety Training - Part 2

Forklift Safety Checklist | SafetyCulture

Using SafetyCulture

Forklift operators can conduct the required daily inspections before operating a forklift using SafetyCulture (formerly iAuditor). Supervisors will be able to be notified and see the report right from their own mobile device. Supervisors can also use the digital checklist tool to conduct frequent evaluations. With SafetyCulture you can:

  • Complete inspections online or offline
  • Specify the location of the facility or work area
  • Upload media files such as images to capture evidences, improve visibility, and keep a photographic record for equipment audits
  • Schedule and assign inspections or evaluations
  • Not worry about storage and security of recordkeeping due to secure cloud storage
  • Get valuable data insights that could be used to create corrective actions

Featured Forklift Safety Templates from SafetyCulture


What are the 3 points of a forklift? ›

When entering or exiting a truck, you should maintain three points of contact until you are either in your seat or standing firmly on the ground. This means one hand and two feet or two hands and one foot at all times.

What is the purpose of a forklift? ›

Superior lifting power

One of the main uses of forklifts is to lift heavy loads that are way beyond the limitations of a human being. The majority of warehouse forklifts can easily pick up 5,000 pounds in weight, and heavy-duty models can manage five times this load.

What is the OSHA standard for forklift? ›

OSHA 29 CFR 1910.178(I) requires that employers provide forklift operators training for vehicle inspection and maintenance. Operators must be over 18 years of age and be recertified at least once every three years. The similar CSA standard is B335-04 (R2012).

What are 3 examples of forklift safety information? ›

Don't reach through the mast or place parts of your body outside the forklift while its in operation. Do not carry passengers unless the forklift is designed to carry more than one person. An additional seat, footrest and seatbelt should be provided. Do not raise people on tines or pallets.

What are the two major causes of forklift accidents? ›

Improper assignment of forklifts and operators. Poor maintenance of forklifts.

Whats the first thing you check on a forklift? ›

Check for leaks, cracks and visible defects everywhere on the forklift. Check mast chains visually; avoid the use of hands. Test mast chain tension by lifting the load backrest to eye level—the mast chains should be level and any tilting may signify stretching or broken rollers.

What do you say in a forklift interview? ›

Forklift Operator Interview Questions
  1. What type of forklifts have you operated during your work experience? ...
  2. How have your past work environments prepared you to work for our company? ...
  3. How would you prevent a forklift accident from happening?

Why is forklift safety important? ›

As you can see, forklift driver safety training is crucial. It can minimize accidents and fatalities on the job while also reducing financial losses from damaged goods. Forklift drivers who operate this machinery without training pose an immediate danger to both themselves and everyone in the work area.

How to safely operate a forklift? ›

Keep your arms, legs, head, and feet inside the forklift when driving. Never drive with the forks up, and never use the forklift to push other vehicles. Never pass a forklift going in the same direction, especially at blind spots, intersections, or other dangerous areas.

What is the most important part of a forklift? ›

As the name suggests, forks are the most important components of a forklift. They are essentially the arms that help lift, support and carry the load. Primarily located on the front end of the equipment, the width and alignment of the forks can vary depending on your specific needs.

What type of hazard is forklift? ›

Forklift trucks sometimes overturn due to overload, incorrect load positioning, driving and operating errors, or poor maintenance. This put their operators at a life-threatening risk. Operators of forklift trucks may suffer serious traumas when the load falls from the truck, or stacked load collapses, etc.

What are 5 OSHA standards? ›

Examples of OSHA standards include requirements for employers to: • provide fall protection; • prevent trenching cave-ins; • prevent exposure to some infectious diseases; • ensure the safety of workers who enter confined spaces; • prevent exposure to harmful chemicals; • put guards on dangerous machines; • provide ...

What are the 5 elements of OSHA? ›

These are the Five elements of the Hazard Communication Standard. They are: Chemical Inventory, Written Program, Labels, Material Safety Data Sheets, and Training. The first element of the Hazard Communication Standard is for employers to develop inventories of all the hazardous chemicals they have at their worksite.

What are 3 safety requirements? ›

The most complex safety topics boil down to these simple safety rules.
  • Always wear your seatbelt when in a vehicle or heavy equipment. ...
  • Always inspect equipment and tools. ...
  • Always use fall protection when working at heights. ...
  • Stay of out the blind spots of heavy equipment. ...
  • Never put yourself in the line of fire.
Nov 22, 2019

What are the 3 main points of safety? ›

When it comes to safety the person who is at risk for injury must be aware of the hazard and what can be done to control the hazard and prevent injury. This is one of the three E's of safety: Evaluation, Education, and Enforcement.

What are 3 important safety tips? ›

The Basics of Safety
  • STAY ALERT - and stay alive. ...
  • WEAR THE RIGHT CLOTHES - work clothes should fit properly. ...
  • USE THE RIGHT TOOLS - if you need a hammer, get a hammer. ...
  • LEARN HOW TO LIFT - Lifting takes more than muscle; it is an art.

What is the number 1 cause of forklift accidents? ›

The main reason for Forklift accidents is the lack of proper Forklift Training and lack of Forklift Certification given by the Company. There are still many companies allowing Forklift Operators drive the equipment without a Forklift License or a proper Forklift Training.

How can you prevent forklift accidents? ›

5 Ways to Prevent Forklift Accidents
  1. Keep up on training. ...
  2. Have a clean, organized warehouse. ...
  3. Enhance safety mechanisms. ...
  4. Operate well-maintained forklifts. ...
  5. Maintain loading and unloading procedures.
May 12, 2017

What are 5 pre start checks that must be made to a forklift? ›

There are pre-operational and operational checks you can do before and after starting the forklift; that will only take a few minutes to ensure your safety, the safety of the people around you and the safety of your forklift.
Check of liquid Levels:
  • Hydraulic fluid.
  • Brake fluid.
  • Engine oil coolant.
  • Battery.
  • Fuel.
Apr 20, 2011

Does OSHA require a forklift checklist? ›

Daily, pre-shift inspection of powered industrial trucks is required by OSHA standards.

What are the three most common reasons for forklift accidents? ›

Common causes include improper turning, driving too fast, and poor maintenance.

What should be done daily on a forklift? ›

KEY ON Procedures
  1. Check the gauges. Hour meter. Battery discharge indicator.
  2. Test the standard equipment. Steering. Brakes. Front, tail, and brake lights. Horn. Safety seat (if equipped)
  3. Check the operation of load-handling attachments.

What skills do you need for forklift? ›

  • Good spatial awareness.
  • Attention to detail.
  • Ability to work well with others.
  • Ability to operate and control equipment.
  • Understanding of health and safety.

What are the three 3 basic causes of accidents? ›

Root causes of incidents are broken down into three levels: direct cause, indirect cause and basic cause. A direct cause is the result of physical contact with an object or hazardous substance and is usually the result of one or more unsafe acts, unsafe conditions or both.

What are the 4 main causes of injuries when using forklifts? ›

Main Causes of Forklift Injuries
  • Forklifts are inadvertently driven off loading docks.
  • Forklifts fall between docks and unsecured trailers.
  • Workers are struck by forklifts.
  • Workers fall from elevated pallets and/or the platform of a forklift.

What are the 3 main work accidents? ›

The most common work injuries are slips, trips, and falls, overexertion, and contact with equipment. All of these injuries are mostly preventable by taking the proper precautions and adhering to OSHA's guidelines.

What is a safe speed for a forklift? ›

The Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association (MHEDA) recommends a max speed of 8 mph in general and a 3 mph max speed in areas where pedestrians are present.

What is the first thing you should do before driving a forklift? ›

Inspect The Wheels

To avoid an accident, make sure that your wheels are properly inflated or flat. Make sure the tires are correctly inflated and have the pressure checked. You should check forklift wheels for excessive wear. Make sure there are no cuts or gouges.

What PPE is required when operating a forklift? ›

Forklift operators should generally start out by having the same types of PPE as anyone else in the area. This will include things like hard hats, safety boots, safety glasses, safety gloves, and more.

What are the 4 types of safety hazards? ›

There are four types of hazards that you need to consider:
  • Microbiological hazards. Microbiological hazards include bacteria, yeasts, moulds and viruses.
  • Chemical hazards. ...
  • Physical hazards. ...
  • Allergens.
Oct 19, 2016

What are the 4 types of OSHA violations? ›

Types of OSHA Violations
  • OSHA De Minimis Violations. ...
  • OSHA Other-Than-Serious Violations. ...
  • OSHA Repeated Violations. ...
  • OSHA Failure to Abate Prior Violation. ...
  • OSHA Serious Violations. ...
  • OSHA Willful Violations.

What are the 6 E's of safety? ›

And so, it's been a welcome development over the past several years to see equity becoming an increasingly established part of the framework, leading to 6 E's – education, encouragement, engineering, enforcement, evaluation, and equity.

What is the most common OSHA violation? ›

OSHA's Top 10 Safety Violations 2022
  1. 1 Fall Protection–General Requirements – 5,260 citations. ...
  2. 2 Hazard Communication – 2,424 citations. ...
  3. 3 Respiratory Protection – 2,185 citations. ...
  4. 4 Ladders – 2,143 citations. ...
  5. 5 Scaffolding – 2,058 citations. ...
  6. 6 Lockout/Tagout – 1,977 citations. ...
  7. 7 Powered Industrial Trucks – 1,749 citations.
Nov 1, 2022

What are the 5 C in safety? ›

Our health and safety strategy is focused around 5Cs - culture, competence, communication, contractors, controls – and health and wellbeing.

What are the 3 responsibilities of OSHA? ›

Provide a workplace free from serious recognized hazards and comply with standards, rules and regulations issued under the OSH Act. Examine workplace conditions to make sure they conform to applicable OSHA standards. Make sure employees have and use safe tools and equipment and properly maintain this equipment.

What are the 4 C's in health and safety? ›

The 4 C's - Competence, Control, Co-operation and Communication are a useful aid to getting organised.

What is the most important safety feature? ›

To license CR videos, click here. The most important thing you can do to protect your life is to buckle your seatbelt. Safety belts save lives on their own and many of the more advanced safety features, such as forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking can help you avoid accidents.

What are the 3 C's of safety? ›

The Three C's of Emergency
  • Check. Check means checking for anything unsafe. ...
  • Call. In emergency situations, it's important to call 911 immediately. ...
  • Care. After checking the scene and calling for help, provide care until medical professionals arrive on the scene.
Feb 7, 2019

What is the 5 safety rule? ›

The Basics of Safety
  • STAY ALERT - and stay alive. ...
  • WEAR THE RIGHT CLOTHES - work clothes should fit properly. ...
  • USE THE RIGHT TOOLS - if you need a hammer, get a hammer. ...
  • LEARN HOW TO LIFT - Lifting takes more than muscle; it is an art.

What are the 3 P's of safety? ›

The 3 P's model encompasses an evidence‐based approach to preparation, protection and prevention, for safety of patients and healthcare staff.

What is the most common type of forklift injury? ›

The most common type of lift truck accident is one of the most fatal: being crushed by a lift truck. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that most fatal lift truck accidents happen when a worker is crushed by a forklift overturns or falls from a loading dock.


1. Forklift Training Counterbalance Forklift Pre Use Check
(J & D Training Ltd)
2. Forklift Safety
3. Forklift Safety - 8 Rules - Avoid Accidents & Injuries - Safe Forklift Operation Starts with You!
(Safety Memos)
4. Forklift Safety Tips English
(Sheel Technologies Safety Resources)
5. Forklift Safety at work
6. Forklift Safety Training Video
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