Since forklifts are made to carry extremely heavy bulky loads, moving them around a warehouse can sometimes be dangerous, if not handled properly. In order to drive a forklift, you must have the proper training and certification to ensure you're operating it correctly. Here are some helpful tips to make sure you're using a forklift the correct way.
Before You Drive
Before you get behind the wheel, make sure that the forklift is clear of any obstructions, since you could hit something while you're backing out or turning. Clearance is needed to avoid accidents. Just like you would when driving a car, buckle the seat belt of the forklift before turning the engine on. Honk the horn to let others know you are about to move either backward or forward, and always look behind you when going in reverse. If the forklift is operated by propane, the tank valve must be turned on before starting the engine.
The emergency brake or lever should be in the "on" position before you drive, and should be turned off before you move. Make sure the forks are low to the ground, about 6-8 inches, and that the forks are tilted back while in motion. Ensure any loose clothing is not hanging off the sides of where you are sitting, and sit upright in the seat. All levers and the steering wheel should be within comfortable reaching distance so you can operate the forklift correctly and safely.
Once the engine is started, slowly back up and turn the forklift around to drive forward. The forklift should emit a beeping noise when in reverse to let others know if it is moving backwards. Drive towards the load you need to move at a slow pace, making sure you can clearly see ahead of you. When you approach the load, typically placed on a palette, insert the forks into the palette slowly until the load reaches the back of the forks. If the load is not all the way on the forks, it runs the risk of slipping off. Tilt the load slightly back and then lower the forks back down until they are off the ground approximately six inches.
After you've received the load, you may carry it slowly to its destination after it is stable. Once you're ready to unload, slowly lower the forks all the way to the ground and then tilt them forward. Put the forklift in reverse and back up until they've completely cleared the load. You may now drive the forklift back to its designated parked position. Be sure to turn the engine off after putting it in park and turn the emergency brake back on. If your forklift uses a propane tank, securely turn the tank off as well.
For more information, speak to specialists who are familiar with material handling equipment.
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