Safety Meeting Series: Forklift Safety

forklift safety

As a driver, you’ve seen it all, and probably done most of it, too. Depending on the job, you might need to jump on a forklift to load or unload your trailer. Sometimes, you’ve got to depend on someone else to do the job. What matters most is that whoever is on that forklift understands how to operate it safely. Make sure you know exactly how to load and unload a trailer with a forklift and don’t let anyone take unnecessary risks on your trailer. Follow these forklift safety tips.

Getting Set Up

Preparation is the key when you’re ready to use the forklift. What you do from the very beginning can determine if you’ll finish the job successfully or get hurt in the process.

  • Make sure the brakes are set.
  • Chock the wheels.
  • Install fixed jacks if the trailer isn’t coupled to a tractor to prevent it from tipping.
  • Make sure the forklift clears the height of the vehicle’s door by at least two inches.
  • Make sure floors can support the weight of both the forklift and the load.
  • Look inside the truck for trash, loose objects and obstructions; holes or weak floors; poor lighting; and low overhead clearance – these can all present possible hazards.
  • Put down mats and other materials to guard against slipping when the weather is bad.
  • Ensure that docks and dock plates are clear of obstructions and aren’t wet or oily.
  • Use dock levelers.

Loading and Unloading a Trailer

The number one rule is to move slowly and take your time. The second rule is to stay focused and pay attention to what you’re doing.

  • Keep the forks pointed down when you’re on a ramp without a load.
  • Keep them pointed up when you have a load and you’re on the ramp.
  • Keep away from the edges of docks or ramps. The edges should be clearly marked.
  • Do not operate forklifts inside vehicles for long periods without ventilation.
  • Make sure that the dock plate is properly secured and can support the load before driving over it.
  • Drive carefully and slowly over the plate. Don’t spin your wheels.

If you’re a driver waiting for someone else to load or unload your haul with the forklift, even when you’re given the all clear, be careful. Pull out slowly. Keep your eyes open for strange noises. If something doesn’t sound right, stop immediately. Slow and steady wins the race and keeps everyone safe.

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