Forklift Safety: The Daily Checklist You Can’t Afford to Ignore

Forklifts are incredibly useful tools in many industries, from warehousing and manufacturing to construction and transportation. However, they can also be extremely dangerous if not operated properly. That’s why it’s so important to take the necessary steps to ensure safe forklift operation, starting with what must be done daily before using a forklift.

General Pre-Operation Checks

Before starting a forklift, it is essential to conduct general pre-operation checks. This includes checking the forklift’s exterior, fluid levels, and battery.

Checking the Forklift’s Exterior – Inspecting the forklift’s exterior is crucial to ensure it is free of damage and is safe to operate. Check for any signs of wear and tear, such as broken mirrors, lights, or forks, and make sure the forklift is clean and free of debris.

Checking Fluid Levels – Check the fluid levels of the forklift, including the engine oil, transmission fluid, hydraulic fluid, and coolant. If any fluid levels are low, top them up before starting the forklift.

Checking the Battery – Check the battery of the forklift and ensure that it is fully charged. If the battery is not fully charged, charge it before using the forklift. Also, check the battery cables and connections and make sure they are clean and tight.

Pre-Operational Inspection

One of the most important steps in ensuring safe forklift operation is conducting a pre-operational inspection. This involves checking various components of the forklift to ensure that everything is working properly and there are no issues that could lead to an accident.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to conducting a pre-operational inspection:

  1. Check the tires to make sure they are properly inflated and in good condition.
  2. Look for any signs of leaks or damage to the hydraulic system, including hoses and cylinders.
  3. Check the brakes to make sure they are functioning properly.
  4. Inspect the forks for any damage or signs of wear and tear.
  5. Test the horn, lights, and backup alarm to make sure they are all working correctly.
  6. Check the battery and charging system to ensure that the forklift will have enough power to operate.

During the inspection, be on the lookout for common issues like worn or damaged tires, leaking hydraulic fluid, malfunctioning brakes, and other issues that could affect the safe operation of the forklift. It’s also important to document the results of the inspection, including any issues that were identified and any repairs that were made.

The consequences of failing to conduct a pre-operational inspection can be severe. A forklift that is not working properly can cause accidents, injuries, and even fatalities. That’s why it’s so important to take the time to conduct a thorough inspection every day before using the forklift.

Operator Pre-Operation Checks

In addition to general pre-operation checks, the operator must conduct pre-operation checks to ensure their safety and the safety of others.

Checking Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – Before using a forklift, operators must check and wear their PPE, including a hard hat, safety glasses, and steel-toed boots. PPE protects operators from injuries caused by falling objects, debris, slips, trips, and falls.

Adjusting Seat and Mirrors – Operators must ensure that their seat is adjusted correctly and that they can reach all controls and pedals comfortably. Also, check and adjust mirrors to ensure they have a clear view of their surroundings.

Checking Pedals and Controls – Before starting the forklift, operators must check that all pedals and controls are in good working condition. Test the accelerator, brakes, steering, and lifting and tilting controls to ensure they respond correctly.

Ensuring Brakes and Horns Work – Operators must check that the brakes and horns of the forklift are in good working condition. Test the brakes by moving the forklift forward and backward and make sure the brakes respond correctly. Also, test the horn to ensure it is loud and audible.

Post-Operation Checks

After using a forklift, operators must conduct post-operation checks to ensure that the forklift is in good working condition and ready for the next use. This includes turning off the forklift, checking for damage, and reporting any issues to management.

Maintenance Checks

In addition to conducting a pre-operational inspection, it’s also important to conduct regular maintenance checks on the forklift. This includes tasks like checking fluid levels, inspecting the brakes and steering system, and lubricating moving parts.

Here’s a list of maintenance checks that should be done on a daily basis:

  1. Check fluid levels, including oil, hydraulic fluid, and coolant.
  2. Inspect the brakes and steering system for any signs of wear or damage.
  3. Lubricate moving parts, such as the mast, chains, and bearings.
  4. Check the air filter and clean or replace it as needed.
  5. Inspect the tires for wear and damage, and adjust the pressure as needed.

Regular maintenance checks are essential for ensuring that the forklift remains in good working condition and can operate safely. Failing to conduct these checks can lead to issues like engine failure, brake failure, or steering problems, which can result in accidents and injuries.

Proper Training

Another crucial element in ensuring safe forklift operation is providing proper training for forklift operators. This includes both initial trainings for new operators and ongoing training for experienced operators.

Training should cover topics like:

  1. Safe operating procedures, including how to properly start and stop the forklift, how to lift and lower loads, and how to navigate different types of terrain.
  2. How to conduct pre-operational inspections and maintenance checks.
  3. How to recognize and respond to potential hazards in the workplace.
  4. How to properly load and unload the forklift, and how to stack and unstack materials safely.
  5. How to handle emergency situations, such as equipment malfunctions or accidents.

Proper training can help prevent accidents and injuries by ensuring that operators understand how to operate the forklift safely and know how to respond to different situations. Inadequate training, on the other hand, can lead to serious accidents and injuries.

Workplace Safety

Finally, it’s important to create a safe workplace environment for forklift operations. This includes measures like:

  1. Posting signs and markers to indicate where forklifts are allowed to operate, and where pedestrians should stay clear.
  2. Designating specific areas for loading and unloading, and ensuring that these areas are free from obstacles and hazards.
  3. Ensuring that the workplace is well-lit and that visibility is good, particularly in areas where forklifts are operating.
  4. Implementing traffic control measures to help prevent collisions between forklifts and other vehicles.
  5. Providing personal protective equipment, such as hard hats and safety glasses, to workers who may be in the vicinity of forklifts.

Creating a safe workplace environment is essential for ensuring that forklifts can operate safely and that workers are protected from accidents and injuries. Neglecting workplace safety can lead to serious accidents, injuries, and even fatalities.


Ensuring safe forklift operation requires taking several key steps on a daily basis. Conducting a pre-operational inspection, conducting regular maintenance checks, providing proper training for operators, and creating a safe work environment are all essential elements of safe forklift operation. By taking these steps, you can help prevent accidents and injuries and ensure that your forklifts operate safely and efficiently.

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