Do’s and Don’ts for forklift safety

By Linda Jackson on 18 September 2016

There are three parties involved with any forklift use – the owner of the forklift, the driver of the forklift and the pedestrians dodging the forklift. Each party plays a role in the safe and successful use of the forklift.

What should Owners Do

DO use qualified forklift drivers only.
There are legal requirements to ensure that the correct training is provided by competent trainers. Make sure you are aware of these and also retraining frequencies. If you allow a forklift driver to drive with an expired certificate you will hold vicarious liability.

DO use a dedicated trained person to conduct your inspections
This was there can be blame or shifting or the classic situation when you think I am doing it and I think you are doing it.

DO provide safety devices to assist drivers
Always in stall monitors and mirrors to ensure the drivers can send around blind corners and through plastic strip curtains.

DO separate the people and the forklift
Always provide demarcated drive only zones and demarcated walk only zones. Provide physical barriers to separate people from the forklifts in addition to demarcation lines. Consider placing walkways above the warehouse floor to separate them.

Do ensure sufficient forklifts and trained drivers
Short cuts are taken when there are insufficient forklifts for the work required.

Do ensure the conditions in the warehouse are optimised for safe driving
Any construction site or warehouse that is cluttered, untidy and hard to navigate. For example, poor lighting, sunstrike, overcast or fading light and night time can cause accidents. Stability may be affected by road conditions such as camber, gradient or uneven and rough surfaces such as potholes.

What should Drivers Do

The driver is the critical component for safe operations.


Ensure the load is secure before lifting it
Drive with the forks lowered at all times
Drive forwards up a ramp and reverse going down
Ensure your drive path is clear, drive slower on uneven surfaces
Drive in demarcated zone
Park in demarcated zones
Make sharp turns slowly
Cross railroad tracks diagonally
Look in the direction you are travelling
Plan your route
Look over your shoulder when reversing
Use your hooter
Use the handbrake
Leave aisle room for pedestrians
Raise the forks when driving up a ramp
At intersections, look both ways and use your horn
Slow down when approaching the load/unload area
Speed, speed limit is 10km/h
Carry people, ever
Use your cell phone while driving
Leave the key in the ignition when parked
Drag the forks
Speed into entrances
Approach pedestrians without warning
Drive with tall loads to avoid tipping
Drive forwards if the load blocks you vision, reverse
Drive intoxicated
Ignore the road surface – potholes can cause you to tip
Drive on public roads
Drive if the brakes are faulty
Disconnect the reverse warning
Raise the mast while driving
Leave the forks raise when parked

Make sure these requirements are part of your toobox talks and safety induction.

This infographic is an ideal tool:

 What should Pedestrians do

The pedestrians need to take responsibility for their own safety.

  • DO stay clear
  • DO Only walk within demarcated walkways, Forklifts should get right of way.
  • DO be alert for forklifts at intersections. The hooter means MOVE
  • DON’T walk through the area on your cell phone
  • DON’T hitch a ride – don’t even ask!
  • DON’T stand on the forks to access out of reach places – only use the cage
  • DO stay clear of turning forklifts as this is when they can tip
  • DO make sure the driver can see you at all times and that he/she has seen you
  • DO wear the high visibility clothing
  • DON’T walk under the load ever

Implement these tips and ensure a safer work environment for all.


Anything you can suggest? Let us know!