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Forklift Trucks - Maintaining Truck Control

How do you maintain control when handling pallets?

Ensure that forks are:

  • Level.
  • High enough to go into the pallet.
  • Proper width to provide even distribution of the weight.
  • All the way under the load, reaching up to at least two-thirds of the load length.

How do you maintain control when lifting, tilting, and stacking a load?

  • Lift the load straight until it is clear, then tilt back.
  • Watch that the load does not catch on adjacent loads or obstructions.
  • Do not raise or lower the forks before you stop the lift truck and set the brakes.
  • Ensure that the forks are free of the load before backing up.

How do you maintain control when traveling?

  • Tilt loads backwards.
  • Travel with forks as low as possible from the floor and tilted back (usually within 10-15 cm (4 to 6 inches) above the floor).
  • Match speed to, load, presence of pedestrians, obstructions, and driving and workplace conditions, including slippery surfaces.
  • Obey posted traffic signs, and follow all traffic control requirements for that work location (e.g., driving on the right hand side, lane markings, etc.).
  • Decrease speed at all corners, sound horn and watch the swing of both the rear of the lift truck and the load.
  • Watch for pedestrians. Keep a safe distance from other lifting devices, pedestrians, elevated surfaces, ramp edges, machinery, etc.
  • Avoid sudden stops.
Tilt load backwards
  • Travel in reverse when a load blocks your vision and always look in the direction of travel.
  • Check for adequate overhead clearance when entering an area or when raising the forks.
  • Watch out for the following dangers on the floor or roadway: oil spots, wet spots, loose objects, or holes, rough surfaces, people, and other vehicles.
  • Approach at an angle when crossing railroad tracks.
  • Maintain a safe working limit from all overhead power lines.
  • Do not turn on ramps.
  • Do not elevate the load when the forklift truck is on an incline.
  • Do not allow riders, unless a safe place for the rider has been povided by the truck's manufacturer.

How should you steer to maintain control?

  • Have the load carried by the front wheels.
  • Turn with the rear wheels.
  • Do not turn a lift truck steering wheel sharply at fast speeds.
  • Do not overload a lift truck. It can cause a loss of steering control.
  • Do not add extra weight to a counterweight to improve steering.

How do you maintain control when driving in reverse?

  • Face the rear.
  • Sound horn before moving.
  • Go slowly.
  • Stop when vision is limited or blocked. Go in reverse, or use a signaller.

How do you maintain control when traveling up or downhill?

Always check with the manufacturer's operating instructions. In general:

  • Loaded trucks, when travelling up and down hill that is greater than a 5% grade, should travel with the load pointed uphill.
  • Unloaded truck should travel with the forks (load-engaging means) pointed down hill regardless of the grade.
  • Do not turn until on level ground when ever possible.

How should you shutdown the forklift truck?

  • Park in an approved location.
  • Set the brakes.
  • Lower the forks or load to the floor.
  • Neutralize the controls.
  • Turn off the motor switch or turn off controls and remove the key.
  • Shut off the fuel supply (e.g., disconnect battery or go through propane shut-down procedures).
  • Block the wheels if the truck is parked on an incline.

Document last updated on June 4, 2019

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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.