Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How to Drive a Forklift

Driving a forklift takes a bit of practice and is nothing like driving a car. Forklifts are steered by their rear wheels, have unwieldy weight distribution, and often have counter-intuitive controls. Depending on where you operate, you may need a license or specialized training, but here is a brief example of how to drive a forklift.

Complete the pre-operations checklist. Look around the vehicle for any damage or malfunction that might prevent the fork lift from operating as it is intended. Pay special attention to hydraulic mechanisms and tire conditions.

Familiarize yourself with all controls and meter readings. This can be done by reading the operator's manual.

Note the size and shape of what you are lifting, and make sure the fork you are using is set to the proper width.

Observe your working environment, make sure it's clean and clear of obstacles. Do not operate a forklift in an area of heavy foot or vehicular traffic, nor in slippery or otherwise unsafe working conditions.

Start the forklift using the key and start button. Move it through basic operations. There will be knobs and levers that move the forks up and down, steer the vehicle and control the speed.

Practice driving the forklift in an open area. Try lifting empty pallets or bags of sand to get used to the controls. Once you are comfortable, you can begin your intended chore.

Park the forklift with the fork completely on the ground when you are finished.

Tips & Warnings

Keep the load as close to the ground as possible and don't drive any faster than you need to. The forklift is designed to lift heavy objects, and is not a racecar.

Practice with the controls in an open space. All forklifts have rear-wheel steering, but have different instrumentation. Familiarize yourself with the controls of your forklift by asking an experienced operator about the specific model you'll be using.

Operating heavy machinery is not something to be taken lightly. If you've never used a forklift before, make sure you're with someone who is experienced.

If you start to operate this machine with no knowledge beforehand, it's likely you could injure yourself or someone else.

Do not attempt to lift any weights until you are confident and consistent in your abilities to safely and articulately operate the machine.

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