You’ve decided to learn to drive a forklift and are preparing to take your forklift safety training. While it doesn’t take hours of reading and weeks of classes to become a forklift operator, it does take time and confidence before becoming comfortable in the driver’s seat. Just like it took practice and time to learn to drive a car, you’ll need to practice and learn the safety rules before really becoming a professional forklift operator.
Read on to prepare for your forklift safety training so that you’ll be ready for the test, know how to behave around forklifts, and be able to keep safety in mind at all times.
Prevention is first and foremost when considering forklift safety. And prevention begins with the knowledge that you are the number one safety feature on your forklift. Any accidents that occur are your responsibility.
During your forklift test – and any time you drive a forklift afterwards – you will be required to check your mirrors, be aware of your surroundings, monitor your speed, and acknowledge foot traffic and load position. All of your attention and concentration is required when operating a forklift. One distraction can ruin a shipment or ruin a life.
Safety is the most important part of preparing for a forklift training test. Be aware and know the machine.
Prior to the operation portion of your forklift safety training test, you will be required to perform an inspection of the forklift. This is the same inspection that is required of you daily on the job after you receive your certification. Follow the checklist, and make a report of your findings. If there is a problem, report it to your instructor (or supervisor) immediately. Never skip the checklist and never work if a problem is found. Again, safety is your responsibility, so never move forward without correcting issues with the forklift. Once hired, your supervisor should provide a checklist for your daily use. You can also print one from OSHA. If no checklist is available, do not operate your forklift. Operators take safety training so that a company is protected against accidents that could cost lives. The knowledge
you gain in training, including the mandatory pre-work safety check, should be put into action on the job.
In your training class, you will learn specific procedures that you must follow when operating a forklift. For instance, there are specific procedures for both entering and exiting the machinery. When entering, you have three points of contact, meaning three points of body must be incontact with the vehicle to ensure proper balance and maximum safety. Never grab the steering wheel as a point of contact, as it could turn and throw you off balance.
Once you are seated fasten your safety belt before turning on the engine. Always fasten your safety belt. Always. Even if you are only driving ten feet or aren’t even moving at all, fasten your seatbelt first. If you do not heed this step during your forklift safety training test, you will fail.
To exit the vehicle, you must first park in a safe area that is out of the way of traffic and other machinery. Lower the forks until they are flat and put the vehicle in neutral. Set the parking brake and turn off the engine. Only then can you remove your seatbelt and exit, following the same three points of contact rule.
You’ll also need to learn some specific procedures related to using the horn. OSHA requires you to use the horn liberally as a safety precaution. You must honk the horn in the following situations:
● When approaching corners, blind spots, and doorways
● Near entrances and exits
● Before backing up
● When pedestrians are close by
Be sure to honk your horn when nearing windowless doors that open into your path. People on the other side are unable to see you approaching and may exit the door without looking, walking right in front of your forklift. The horn will warn them of your presence.
During your forklift safety training test, be sure to use your horn in these situations and any others mentioned by your trainer, or you won’t pass the class.
Your forklift safety training class will also discuss details about the forklift itself, how to drive it, and how to pick up loads, in addition to handling dangerous situations, such as if the forklift tips over.
About the Forklift
You’ll learn general knowledge about the forklift itself during your class. The forklift has three distinct parts: the body, the overhead guard, and the hydraulic lift. The mast and forks are attached to the hydraulic lift.
Inside the truck are the steering wheel, controls, and a brake and gas pedal. Sometimes there’s a clutch, as well. The controls raise and lower the forks and tilt them back and forth. Some machines also move the forks from side to side and in and out.
Important Driving Tips
When carrying a load across a flat surface, you typically only need to raise the forks eight inches. After you’ve raised the load, tilt the forks back in place so that the load remains stable while driving. When driving on slopes, keep the forks on the uphill side of the truck or you will most likely drop the entire load off the front.
Never, ever give anyone a ride on the forks. In fact, never give anyone a ride at all. It is dangerous to allow another person to sit anywhere on the truck while you drive.
Carrying a load on a forklift is all about balance. Keep the heavy end as close to the mast as possible and balance the weight side to side on the forks. Loads that are wide and/or long are less stable. Drive at a slower speed and monitor the load so that it doesn’t tip and fall. Also be aware of your surroundings so that you don’t accidentally hit something alongside your path.
Be aware of the load limit on the forklift. If you overload it, the back wheels will come off the ground and the forks won’t. Forklifts weigh upwards of 8000 pounds. Their load capacity is usually half of the weight, so it’s important to check the data plate for the exact weight of the forklift before loading a heavy pallet.
Your forklift safety training will cover what to do if your forklift tips. Never try to jump out of a falling forklift. You are safer inside the truck and should remain seated.
If the forklift starts to tip, grip the steering wheel and plant your feet firmly on the floor. Lean away from the direction the truck is tipping and brace yourself.
Forklift Safety Training
You’ll learn about the above information and more in your forklift safety training class. This knowledge will help you to be a safe and competent driver, prepared for everything from daily use to dangerous possible situations.
Remember that your test will cover all safety rules. Stay aware of your surroundings, others around you, and the forklift itself and you will have no trouble passing your class and becoming a certified forklift operator