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Forklift Trucks - Maintaining Truck Control

How do you maintain control of the load when handling pallets?

Ensure that forks are:

  • Level.
  • High enough to enter 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?

  • Before any lift, make sure the forks are properly centred under the load, the forklift is stopped, and the brake is engaged.
  • Lift the load straight up until it is clear of the ground, rack, or other materials. Watch that the load does not catch on adjacent loads or obstructions.
  • Tilt the load back.
  • Slowly reverse straight back (if possible) with the load suspended, continuously checking for obstructions for the load and forklift. Once the load is clear from all obstructions it can be lowered to a height of about 10-15 cm (4-6 in.) above the ground. It is now safe to travel with the load.
  • After placing the load down, make sure that the forks are no longer supporting the weight of the load and that the forks are tilted back to level 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.
  • Match speed and driving to the load, obstructions, and workplace conditions, including slippery surfaces.
  • Obey posted traffic signs, and follow all traffic control requirements for that workplace (e.g., driving on the right hand side, lane markings, etc.).
  • Decrease speed around all corners, sound the horn, and consider the swing of both the rear of the forklift 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 (for example, unsecured loads may fall off the forks).
  • Travel in reverse when a load blocks your sight lines and always look in the direction of travel.
  • Check for adequate overhead clearance when entering an area or when raising the forks (including the load).
  • Watch out for hazards while travelling including oil spots, wet spots, loose objects, or holes, rough surfaces, people, other vehicles, etc.
  • Cross railroad tracks at designated track crossing locations only. Drive over the tracks at an angle.
  • 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 the forklift is designed to have a passenger seat or if an approved man-lift forklift cage is in use (man-lift workers must exit the cage each time the forklift must drive to a new location).

How should you steer to maintain control?

  • 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.
Steering

How do you maintain control when driving in reverse?

  • Face the rear.
  • Sound horn before moving.
  • Drive slowly.
  • Stopwhen sight lines are limited or blocked.
  • Use a signaller when needed.

How do you maintain control when travelling 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 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.
  • Apply parking brakes.
  • Lower the forks or load to the floor.
  • Neutralize the controls.
  • Turn off the motor switch or turn off controls
  • 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 July 26, 2022

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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.