Do You Make These 5 Mistakes When Operating A Forklift?

A significant number of forklift-related accidents have occurred in Australia and many factors can be attributed to this. Among these are poorly trained forklift drivers, poor forklift maintenance, poor workplace conditions, mechanical malfunctions and careless use of forklifts. If these errors can be prevented then you can put a stop to forklift accidents happening in the workplace.

You need to be cautious with the way you or your forklift driver operate your equipment. If you think some practices need to be corrected then it must be done immediately. Here are the 5 most common mistakes operators commit when using a forklift:

1. Not Checking Forklift before Use
Companies are required to do regular checkups of their forklifts. It is the companies’ directive who they assign to do this. Some companies require their forklift drivers to do the checkups before each shift, while some assign a specific person to do the checkups for the department or company.

These checkups are very important. It’s crucial to stop the use of defective forklifts lest they cause accidents and injure someone.

Aside from checkups being a safety precaution, it‘s also required by the government. If companies don’t have sufficient documents to prove they regularly do forklift checkups, they will be fined for this.

2. Keeping the Key on the Forklift
Only drivers with forklift licences and those who have undergone a forklift driver training are allowed to use and operate a forklift. This rule should not be taken lightly.

A forklift can become a dangerous tool if used by someone without any forklift licence training. It’s because of this that keys shouldn’t be left on the forklift after use. If you leave it there, you would give everybody access to the equipment. After using the forklift the key should be removed and placed in a secure place.

3. Carelessly Getting On and Off the Forklift
There is a proper way to get on and off a forklift. If you just do as you please, you risk accidentally moving the forklift while you are not yet safely seated and you risk injuring yourself.

Most forklift controls are located on the right side of the equipment and you’ll find the driver’s handle on the left side. If you have this setup this means you need to use the left part of the forklift for entrance and exit. This will prevent any accidental bumping of the control leavers located on the right. If your forklift has a different setup, look for the driver’s handle. There is only one handle and it’s always located opposite the control leavers.

4. Forklift Arms Being at Any Height
While driving, forklift arms should not be above the axle height. The forklift arms shouldn’t also be moving up and down while the forklift is in motion. It should be fixed at the appropriate level only. If a driver needs to move the forklift arms, the forklift needs to be stationary when doing this. If all these are not followed, the driver will risk tipping over the forklift.

Some think they are expert forklift drivers and don’t follow these simple guidelines. Be sure you or your company’s forklift drivers are not one of these.

5. Use Any Attachments Available
A forklift can only use approved attachments. A forklift can’t use just any attachment available at the site. Each forklift has a data plate that tells the driver the maximum weight capability of a forklift. By adding attachments, the data plate will be changed, the forklift capacity will be decreased and some operating controls might be limited.

Using non-approved attachments is also illegal. Any company that has even one non-approved attachment on their site will be heavily fined.

If you or your company’s forklift driver habitually makes these 5 mistakes, chances are there may be other habits that need to be corrected. It may be time for a forklift refresher training. Don’t risk incurring a huge fine for your incorrect practices, or worse risk injuring yourself and your co-workers for your carelessness. As they say, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Debra Wright blogs about a plethora of topics including forklift license in Forklift Training and other fields. Wright considered Australian Forklift Training as one of the leaders in Forklift Licence Training.