Kevin Ian Schmidt

Forklift Safety Training

Following proper forklift safety guidelines will lower your chances of getting in a serious accident and either getting seriously injured or causing damage. Forklifts are some of the most useful machines in the workplace and without them basic workplace activities would be much more difficult. Respect their power and make sure that forklift safety is a priority in your workplace.

The training here is to be presented by a competent person in a classroom environment, allowing for discussion of site specific issues. Without discussing site specific safety issues, the training is incomplete, as operators won’t know what hazards they face in the workplace.

Besides this training presentation, there is more needed for qualified operators in your facility.

Make sure your operators are also given an evaluation by the competent person as part of your company’s training program.

These evaluations should be completed on a form and kept as part of the training record. It is equally important to keep all failed evaluations, and retraining evaluations after an incident, as these provide proper documentation in the event of a regulatory investigation.

Why Forklift Operator Training Matters:

  • Forklifts can be very dangerous—in an average year, 100 people die in forklift-related accidents, and 20,000 are seriously injured in forklift mishaps, resulting in lost workdays.
  • Common forklift-related injuries could result from:
    • Hitting a pedestrian with a forklift,
    • Forklift tipover,
    • Improperly positioned loads,
    • Falling from the forks or from a platform positioned on the forks,
    • Falling from a ladder that is struck by a forklift, and
    • Being struck by materials that fall from a forklift.

When training and evaluating operators on forklifts, make sure you’re training employees appropriately for the equipment involved, each type of piece of powered equipment. So, it is important to know what equipment is used in the workplace.

OSHA divides Forklifts into five classes:

  • Class One forklifts are powered by electric motors and are generally used inside because of their lack of exhaust fumes.
  • Class Two forklifts are used in narrow aisles for order picking by the forklift itself or by the driver who is raised up.
  • Class Three forklifts have operators who either walk behind or lead the lift. They aren’t actually driven but operators still need to achieve certification.
  • Class Four forklifts are operated by fuel and have solid rubber tires that can only be used on paved surfaces.
  • Class Five forklifts are also operated by fuel, but they have pneumatic tires which allow them to be driven on unpaved roads.

Whatever class of forklift you operate, OSHA requires training specific to that forklift. Forklifts are powerful and indispensable vehicles that make our lives easier. The power of these machines also makes them extremely dangerous. As such, the training required is imperative.

Looking to learn more about powered equipment safety? Check out the Powered Equipment Inspection Books I have published on Amazon, or any of my other posts on powered equipment safety

Here are some safety tips about driving forklifts.

  • Before you drive off make sure that you adjust your seatbelt and buckle up, just like a car.
  • Make sure that you keep the forks low – four to six inches off of the floor. Raised forks damage equipment and insure people.
  • Maintain a speed that will allow you to stop quickly and control your load. A sudden stop can cause a jolt and you could lose your load.
  • Always drive to the right of other vehicles and pedestrians just like you would in a car.
  • Always stop and sound your horn at every corner and doorway – other drivers and pedestrians may not be paying attention. Look both ways before you continue.
  • If you have a load that impairs your vision, then drive backwards and use a co-worker to help you see.
  • Look for hazards before you drive. Know all the problems areas before you lift. Ducts and overhead pipes can be lower than you think and significant damage could occur.
  • If you need to leave the vehicle always put the engine in neutral, set your parking brake and lower the mast to the floor. If you are a slope, block the wheels. All of this will ensure the forklift will not move while you are gone.
  • Manual Handling guidance is easy to provide, however making sure it is used is easier said than done.
  • The regulations state that handling should be eliminated if at all possible. Despite having more labor saving devices than ever before, lifting and moving items is still required and therefore removing the need is not always possible. Even if you outsource your handling requirements, you still retain some responsibility for ensuring the organization moving the equipment has appropriate risk assessments and trained staff in place.
Check Out: 10 Reasons Why Safety Training is Often Ineffective

View and Download the Operator Evaluation Form

forklift operator evaluation form



Properly filling out this form and conducting an evaluation, will ensure employees properly operate equipment in a safe manner.

A great way to conduct an evaluation is to set up a course, away from pedestrians, and other critical items. This ensures that hazards are minimized while a new operator is first learning.

The evaluation portion of the training should include test operations, such as driving with unstable loads, driving in


If your company needs policies, training, or forms related to powered industrial vehicles, they can be found here.


Download and View the Forklift Safety Training below




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