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Forklift Trucks - Loading and Unloading Vehicles

What vehicles can you load and unload using forklift trucks?

Forklift trucks provide (secure) the efficient loading and unloading of straight trucks, tractor trailers, railway cars and elevators.

How should you prepare the work area for using a forklift truck for loading/unloading operation?

  • Set the vehicle's brakes up.
  • Chock the vehicles' wheels.
  • Install fixed jacks to support a semi-trailer that is not coupled to a tractor to prevent it from upending.
  • Post signs warning not to move a vehicle.
  • Check that the height of the vehicle's entrance door clears the forklift height by at least 5 cm (2 in.).
  • Make sure floors can support the combined weight of the forklift and the load.
  • Inspect interior of a vehicle for the following: trash, loose objects and obstructions; holes or weak floors; poor lighting; and low overhead clearance.
  • Install anti-slipping material in any area that could be a hazard because of weather conditions.
  • Ensure that docks and dock plates are clear of obstructions and not oily or wet.
  • Protect gaps and drop-offs at loading docks.
  • Use dock levelers.

What should you do to load (unload) vehicles using a forklift truck?

  • Keep forks pointed downhill when traveling without a load on a ramp.
  • Keep forks pointed uphill when traveling with a load on a ramp.
Travelling without a load on a ramp
Traveling with a load on a ramp
  • Stay clear of edges of docks, rail cars or ramps. Have edges clearly marked.
  • Do not tow or push railway cars or trucks with a forklift.
  • Do not operate forklifts inside vehicles for long periods without ventilation.
  • Make sure that the dock plate is properly secured and can support the load before driving over it. (Load weight should be clearly marked.)
  • Drive carefully and slowly over the plate. Do not spin wheels.

When loading railway cars, what is important to know?

  • Cross railway track on a diagonal.
  • Set handbrakes, wheel blocks and derailer before entering a railway car.
  • Do not park a forklift within three meters of railway tracks.
  • Do not open railway car doors with forklift forks.
Cross railway track on a diagonal

What should I do when using a forklift truck in an elevator?

  • Do not enter any elevator unless specifically authorized to do so.
  • Before entering any elevator, ensure that the forklift plus load weight does not exceed the elevator capacity.
  • Approach the elevator slowly, stop at a safe distance from the elevator gate and enter squarely.
  • Neutralize the forklift controls, shut off a motor, and apply the brakes.

Document last updated on October 13, 2006
Document confirmed current on June 7, 2013


Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, CCOHS does not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current. CCOHS is not liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the information.