If you’re a forklift operator who has recently earned your license then it’s important to know that this is only the start of the learning process. Of course you’ve successfully gone through your training, mastered the basics and achieved certification, but you learn much more through experience.
Each day operating a lift truck will bring new learning experiences, and we’ve got a few helpful tips and tricks for you to keep in mind, so that you continue to develop your skills.
Check over equipment before a shift
Sometimes we all experience a rushed morning before we start a shift, but you should never give yourself an excuse to skip your pre-shift inspection, especially when it comes to operating forklifts. Even if an operator used the lift truck before you, do not automatically assume they went through all the necessary checks after their last job ended. Forklifts can be extremely dangerous machines and therefore require the utmost of care at all times. Carrying out a thorough inspection before and after your shift will allow you to take full control over your safety.
Be careful how you enter and exit
Some of the most common lift truck accidents, which can lead to serious injuries, actually occur when operators are just entering or exiting the cabin of the truck. Accidents are more likely to occur when operators get too comfortable and mistakes are made. Jumping out of the cabin with your hands full may seem like a good idea, but there could be a large step to clear, or grease on the step that you slip on as you exit. Just remember to always stay alert even when you’re just getting in and out of the forklift.
Steer clear of distractions
Just like the above point, distraction can lead to serious injury or worse when operating machine handling equipment. When you’re a qualified operator you’ll likely be given a lot more freedom and less supervision. So, you need to be able to maintain your focus all the time, especially because you are responsible for dangerous equipment.
Get the right gear
Being comfortable in your job is always important, especially if that job takes you outdoors during the cold winter or during hot summer days. If you operate in an unheated or underheated warehouse, then it’s essential that you keep warm or your reaction time will slow drastically. Also when temperatures are hotter, you’ll need a base layer of clothing that’s moisture-wicking in order to keep yourself dry. Don’t forget to also wear a hard hat and protective footwear at all times.
Don’t overload and practice ramps
When operating a forklift truck with a load it’s really important to keep the forks as low to the ground as you can. Make sure that you keep the forks low while still maintaining the stability triangle. You’ll be in danger of tipping the forklift truck over if you’re carrying a load with the forks positioned too high up. Having the forks high could also result in things falling from the load and potentially injuring other workers nearby. Speaking of travelling at speed with a load, also keep in mind of ramps. When approaching a ramp, move in a forward position as you drive up it and move in reverse while going down.