If you work in a warehouse as an order picker, you will probably be required to operate a forklift at some point in your career. Your employer will arrange for you to attend a forklift training course so that you can become a licenced operator. Meanwhile, here are a few tips on how to safely operate a forklift to give you an idea of what will be expected from you.
Before you start
The first thing you'll need to practice is getting in and out of the forklift correctly. To do so, keep both hands and one foot in contact with the forklift at all times; don't jump on or off the unit.
Before you start the engine, familiarise yourself with the forklift controls; they can vary from unit to unit. Most forklifts have a seatbelt so make sure to put it on. You should also wear safety equipment provided, such as a hard hat or hi-vis vest.
Safe operation tips
- Keep your arms and legs inside the forklift at all times.
- Look in the direction of travel and keep three lengths back from other vehicles.
- When picking up a load, ensure that it is not too heavy for the forklift's capacity and make sure it's properly balanced on the forks.
- When the forks and load are raised, keep an eye out for overhead pipes and other obstructions.
- When picking up a pallet, always extend the forks completely and make sure that the mast is tilted back before moving off. This ensures that the load is stabilised.
- Don't lower or raise the load while the forklift is moving; always stop completely first.
- Move slowly when the forklift is loaded, being observant for pedestrians and other vehicles at all times.
- Only tilt your load when it is positioned over a rack or a stack.
- If you have to leave the forklift, you must remain within sight of the vehicle. You must lower the load fully to the ground, put the controls in neutral and ensure that the brakes are set.
- Never be tempted to allow colleagues to hitch a lift on the forklift.
If you work in a warehouse as an order picker, you will probably need to learn how to operate a forklift truck. Once you've passed your training course and have successfully obtained your operator's licence, always keep safety as your priority and remember the tips and advice given above.