Powered Industrial Trucks (Forklift) » Operating the Forklift

Safely operating a forklift requires preparation, anticipation and careful attention in order to maintain control of the vehicle at all times. This module will identify recommended practices associated with each of the following operations:

  • Pre-Operation
    Inspect and maintain the forklift before use.

  • Traveling & Maneuvering
    Use good operating practices to prevent accidents.

  • Load Handling
    Identify the hazards and recommended practices for each step in the load handling process (including an in-depth discussion on Load Composition).


Additional Information

  • Protecting Young Workers: Prohibition Against Young Workers Operating Forklifts. OSHA Safety and Health Bulletin, (September 30, 2003). Given the significant number of young workers employed, especially during the summer months, OSHA and Wage and Hour Division (WHD) believe that it is important to remind all employers of the regulations that prohibit workers under 18 years of age from operating specified hazardous machines and equipment, including forklift trucks in non-agricultural operations.

  • Preventing Injuries and Deaths of Workers Who Operate or Work Near Forklifts. DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2001-109, (June 2001). Forklift overturns are the leading cause of fatalities involving forklifts; they represent about 25 percent of all forklift-related deaths.

    Most fatalities occur when a worker is crushed by a forklift that has overturned or fallen from a loading dock. NIOSH investigations of forklift-related deaths indicate that many workers and employers:
    • May not be aware of the risks of operating or working near forklifts
    • Are not following the procedures set forth in the OSHA standards, consensus standards, or equipment manufacturer's guidelines.