Useful Guide to Training First Time Employees How to Operate a Forklift

Before getting behind the wheel of a forklift, a driver must receive proper certification. The training process requires an individual to receive several lessons and the operator must be able to complete and fulfill all requirements to receive their certification. Not only do they need to learn how to safely operate a forklift, they need to understand how to inspect and maintain a forklift. Certain areas of the forklift are under constant strain and pressure, which can cause the machine to break down quickly. The heels, tips, forks, and hooks are some of the areas that must be adequately maintained to prevent major problems. Poor maintenance of any parts can lead to serious injuries and expensive damage. Use these tips to help a first time employee understand how to properly operate a forklift.


The hooks are responsible for the raising and transporting items. They will bear the brunt of the workload, so it is important that the hooks are inspected and maintained properly. If a hook breaks while the driver is transporting cargo, the forklift can collapse. The forklift operator must test the hooks to make sure they are fastened properly to the shaft to prevent them from breaking. 


The heels play a critical role in safety. They are the metal pieces that form right angles within the shafts or the prongs of the forklift. The heels will provide support for lifting. The heels need to be properly maintained and inspected frequently to make sure they do not have cracks. Every time an operator needs to use the forklift to carry a load, the shafts will stretch and this creates fissures in the metal. What happens is the more the forklift is used, the more wear and tear will occur. Eventually the metal will become weaker and the cracks can increase in size until they cause the heels to break.

When inspecting the heels, operators must examine the width of the heel. Every time the heel comes into to contact with the floor, the bottom is worn down. If you use the forklift in a concrete warehouse, the metal can become worn quickly as it frequently scraps against the concrete. To measure the heel, use a fork caliper. The measurement you take needs to be compared to the fork upright-shank width.

Additional Inspection

Always inspect other areas of the forklift that are prone to wear and tear. The tires need to be properly inflated and the prong chains need to be observed before each use. If the tires and the prong chains are worn, they can cause a forklift to drop when you are operating it. Here are some additional areas of the forklift that need to be inspected to ensure the machine is safe:

  • Oil pressure
  • Engine casting
  • Radiator
  • Engine coolant
  • Transmission fluid
  • Tight valves

With adequate inspection and maintenance, a forklift will last longer and will function properly during operation.

The Importance of Maintenance

Lack of training, improper maintenance, and aging forklifts are among the top reasons why forklift accidents occur. Poorly maintained forklifts increase the risk of accidents not only to the forklift driver, but to individuals around them. Failure to maintain a forklift will cause it to age rapidly, costing a company thousands of dollars as they need to replace forklifts well before they need to. Improper maintenance of a forklift is frustrating and stressful. Without proper maintenance, a forklift can have problems engaging and disengaging correctly. Don’t let your forklift be the result of a serious workplace accident. Take the time to properly train employees on the importance of operating and maintaining forklifts to ensure your staff is safe, and to save money on repairs and forklift replacement.

About Tom Reddon

Tom has been involved in the forklift industry since 1986. He loves doing research, blogging, and speaking about forklifts. You can contact Tom on his Twitter or Google+ profiles.

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