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5 Common Forklift Mistakes Made by Drivers and Operators

Every forklift driver will make a mistake at some point. Just as even the most careful road user  will have a bump or scrape at some point in their driving life.

In a warehouse or logistics environment, where there are multiple hazards and potential accidents waiting to happen, even the most experienced operators will have an issue at some point in their career. From forgetting to check the battery at the start of a shift and finding it flat, to a more serious issue, such as miscalculating a load and tipping the truck, or misjudging the angle of a corner and crashing into a pallet.

Many lift truck accidents are avoidable, if basic rules and regulations are followed and if a little common sense is applied. But some mistakes do keep occurring in warehouse and logistics environments, and they are often due to inattention from operators and in some cases a lack of adequate training.

We’ve listed the top 5 mistakes our expert training instructors come across regularly, and given some advice on how best to avoid them happening to you.

1. Lack of Communication

Forklift trucks are dangerous. Their very construction and the nature of the working environment makes them one of the most dangerous pieces of equipment in a warehouse. Every year, numerous deaths occur due to forklift accidents. These happen to operators and to nearby pedestrian workers too.

The most common forklift accidents occur when a pedestrian is struck by a moving vehicle.

The best method for limiting the risk of accidents and ensuring that pedestrians are aware of your forklift is to maintain good communication with those working around you at all times.

There are lots of blind spots on a forklift, particularly when carrying loads, so it is essential that if you are operating a lift truck, you follow all the safety signs as well as checking the sound and light signals on the truck, including the reversing sounder before beginning any maneuver. If they are all in working order then it is also vital that they are used to allow pedestrians and other lift trucks to know what your next maneuver will be.

Working in set forklift zones will also allow pedestrians working nearby to anticipate your actions and stay clear.

2. Lack of a regular thorough inspection

The basic requirement of any forklift driver is that they should carry out their own thorough inspection of their truck before operating it. This also means checking that the truck has a certificate of thorough examination in line with the LOLER regulations.

Before starting any shift, the lift truck operator should check the lifting equipment to ensure it is properly maintained for use. This will include checking the lifting chains and slings, brakes and controls.

If there is a problem, a thorough inspection can identify a problem that could have very serious consequences.

However, inspections need to be carried out with a detailed knowledge of what to look for. Only by receiving certified training can operators know what they should be inspecting for, and whether the lift truck is fit for use on their shift.

3.  Not working with assistance

To the outsider, driving a Forklift can look straightforward. Any experienced driver will tell you that it isn’t at all! There are numerous blind spots which make even simple maneuvers complex.

Many experienced operators work with a qualified signaller. They can direct the driver with hand signals, and will be able to let you know if you’re approaching a hazard. They can also be aware of pedestrians in your blind spot or if you need help navigating and lifting a load safely.

Assistance when working with loads can be incredibly useful and will enhance your safety, and the safety of those working around you.

4. Speeding

Forklifts trucks are not designed for speed. Their unstable nature, especially with a heavy load, means that it can easily tip over if driven too fast.

You should always drive a forklift truck at a responsible speed, but this especially important when you are working in close proximity to pedestrians or other vehicles.

It can be tempting for even the most experienced drivers to speed up to get  jobs done more quickly. However, safety is paramount, and should always be prioritised over productivity.

5. Not knowing the Forklift Truck’s Capacity

You should always check that the forklift you are using is fit for the task at hand. The most important check is that it has the weight capacity to handle the loads you need to move, especially if the loads are heavier than normal.

It’s an easy mistake to overload a forklift. But this can result in the forklift tipping up, risking the safety of the operator and those working nearby, as well as causing damage to stock, the vehicle and the surroundings.

Forklifts are designed for certain terrains and environments. Using them in the wrong environment, or on more rugged terrain can also result in accidents.

There are particular rough terrain trucks should be used on building sites and side loaders  which are best for narrow aisles.

Knowing your vehicle’s capacity is vital to safe operation.

TTA Warehouse and Forklift Driver Training

To make sure that your staff are properly trained to operate forklifts and follow the strict regulations in place for their safety as well as the safety of those around them – contact the team at TTA.

We provide all the training they need to avoid these common mistakes, to keep your workplace running smoothly and safety.

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Aaron Cochran


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