Forklift Safety FAQs
Find answers to some of the most common safety questions related to forklifts.
Who is allowed to operate a forklift?
OSHA requires that only certified personnel are allowed to drive a forklift. Forklift drivers are required to be 18 years or older.
Can you give someone a ride on a forklift?
Anyone riding in a forklift is required to have certification. This means you cannot give rides to anyone who is not certified to also drive a forklift.
How can you be safe when working around forklifts?
Forklift drivers have limited visibility. This means any pedestrians in the vicinity need to be trained on how to safely work around forklifts. This can include:
Giving space to forklift drivers
Maintaining eye contact with the forklift driver if it’s required that you walk around a forklift
Never standing near a forklift load
Looking both ways before stepping out of an aisle, around a corner, or into a pathway
Stay alert and aware of your surroundings—and as always, ensure all employees receive regular safety training. To learn more about forklift safety, check out our Forklift Safety Toolbox Talk.
Why are forklifts dangerous?
Forklifts are heavy vehicles that can easily tip over if loaded or operated unwisely. A forklift driver also has limited visibility when using the forklift, making it easier to collide with people or objects and cause injuries.
In 2007, OSHA reported 85 deaths and 34,900 serious injuries caused by forklift accidents. Forklifts that tip over and crush the driver cause 42% of forklift-related deaths.
What are the seven types of forklifts?
OSHA outlines seven primary types of forklifts:
Electric motor rider trucks
Electric motor narrow aisle trucks
Electric motor hand trucks or hand/rider trucks
Internal combustion engine trucks (solid/cushion tires)
Internal combustion engine trucks (pneumatic tires)
Electric and internal combustion engine tractors
Rough terrain forklift trucks
A forklift operator must be aware of the type of forklift and attachment to safely operate the truck.
Why should you read a forklift’s nameplate?
A forklift nameplate, also known as a data plate, weight plate, or capacity load plate, provides information on:
Understanding weight capacity is imperative to safely operating any forklift. Additional details (like tire size) are provided for vehicle servicing.
While nameplates are initially created by the manufacturer, it is the operator’s job to ensure information is up-to-date and legible. Nameplates are located on the instrument panel, near the operating controls.
How do you calculate a forklift’s maximum capacity?
Nameplates include information on mast types, attachments, weight, and maximum back and forward tilt. All of these factors change a forklift’s lifting capacity. Nameplates will provide examples of maximum capacity given different variables, but to calculate a custom capacity, it’s recommended that you use a capacity calculator.
How can you use visual communication to improve safety?
Develop a visual safety standard that everyone on the jobsite knows and understands. This can include:
Safety signs in any areas pedestrians and forklifts may share
Yellow floor markings to indicate caution
Red floor markings to indicate fire hazards, emergency switches, and buttons on hazardous machines
Signs that direct traffic, including speed limits, arrows directing traffic, and stop signs
Properly marking work areas can greatly improve safety by eliminating confusion
What other resources can help improve my jobsite safety?
Conducting regular safety trainings helps streamline the presentation of safety topics to your crews. They also allow anyone to ask questions or address any concerns they have. To save time and effort in finding and completing safety talks, invest in a toolbox talks software that includes digital sign-in sheets. That way, you’ll collect clean, documented proof in the case of litigation, disputes, or claims. Raken has a digital library full of toolbox talk topics ready for you to use.
Keep track of employees' inspections of forklifts and other heavy equipment with a construction equipment management software. Have employees use our checklist above or customize your own to ensure owned and rental equipment is operated safely.