Most industries require material handling equipment to move products from A to B. Most often, this is done with a forklift. As with all material handling equipment, this brief guide is not a replacement for specialized training and certification in their safe operation. Here are some brief guidelines for how to drive a sit down forklift.
How to Drive a Sit Down Forklift: Before you Drive
- Complete a daily pre-operation inspection. This easy walkthrough process checks for signs of wear or damage that could impact performance or safety. It should not take long, but this process is crucial for safety.
- Familiarize yourself with the equipment being used. Not only should you know where all controls are, you should also know the total capacity of the forklift.
- Make sure that fuel levels are ready to go! There’s nothing worse than having to walk a long distance for another LP tank.
Even if you have previously completed training on this class of products, take the time to get familiar with its unique features and design. Equipment features can vary greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer and assuming all features are the same can be very dangerous. If you have questions bring them to your supervisor and be sure to read the operator manual.
How to Drive a Sit Down Forklift: While Driving
Remember – driving a forklift is nothing like driving your car. Rear-wheel steering means you need to slow down when turning and leave ample room for rear-end swing. Keep loads pointed up a hill whenever you are negotiating a grade to avoid spills or tipovers. You should also avoid lifting or lowering the forks while driving and you should never do so while handling loads – between the obscured visibility and decreased stability, it is best to do so only at a standstill.
How to Drive a Sit Down Forklift: Best Practices
- ALWAYS wear your seatbelt
- NEVER play games with the equipment
- ALWAYS sound your horn before going through an intersection or when first starting to move
- ALWAYS yield to pedestrians
- NEVER assume that your forklift can be easily seen
- ALWAYS be aware of your surroundings
Remember: operator training and certification are both class and application specific. If you are using familiar products in a new location or work application you must complete training for those specific uses. Every unique workplace can have its own rules and policies for safe operation. Be sure you know these before you using familiar equipment in those locations.