Use Forklifts Safely Training Resource

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Forklifts are extremely useful workplace vehicles and are widely used for moving materials and goods, but they are involved in about a quarter of all workplace transport accidents. Accidents involving forklifts are often caused by poor supervision and a lack of training and the deaths and injuries caused can ruin lives and businesses. Even when an incident does not cause injury, it can still mean costly damage to the forklift itself, buildings, fittings and goods.

The following information, guidance and safety tips will help you and those you work with stay safe when using forklifts.

Type of forklift

Forklifts are powered trucks used to carry, lift, stack or tier materials and can be powered by electric battery or combustion engines.

There are various types of forklifts available and BestPump uses a counterbalance type as seen in the below image. This has a counterweight to balance the load on the fork arms and the fork arms and load project out from the front of the machine. Loads can be raised or lowered vertically and the mast may be tilted forwards or backwards up to 15 degrees (but in practice more usually about 5 degrees). This type of forklift is only suitable for use on substantially firm, smooth, level and prepared surfaces.

The law

A forklift is classed as a work vehicle and if you own, lease, hire or borrow a vehicle for work purposes, you must make sure that it is safe for use and fit for the purpose for which it is intended.

Under health and safety legislation, a vehicle is a place of work. The law requires that workplaces are maintained in a condition that is safe and without risk to safety and health. Vehicles must be kept safe and fit for purpose and the driver must be able to get in and out of the vehicle safely.

Forklifts are also classed as work equipment. Employers must make sure that drivers are familiar with the vehicle they are driving and that they have been given appropriate instruction, information and training to carry out required checks and to use the vehicle in the correct and safe manner.

Employers and employees have duties under health and safety law to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of employees, themselves and others. The main legislation applying to the use of forklifts is outlined below.


Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
Employers must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of themselves and others who may be affected by what they do or do not do.

Employees must take reasonable care for their own health and safety and that of other people and must co-operate with their employer (and others) to help comply with legal duties relating to health and safety.
Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations requires employers to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment to protect employees and others.
Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER)
PUWER applies to all work equipment and the Regulations require that work equipment is suitable for the purpose it is used or provided for and is properly maintained and inspected at suitable intervals.
Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER)
LOLER deals with specific hazards/risks associated with lifting equipment and lifting operations to ensure work equipment is suitable for the purpose it is used or provided for and is properly maintained and inspected at suitable intervals.
Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations include requirements for safe use of traffic routes, lighting, doors and gates used by forklifts within the workplace.
Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH)
The COSHH Regulations require employers to carry out a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks in the proposed work involving exposure to hazardous substances and, where necessary, introduce appropriate control measures.
Consulting employees
Employers are legally required to consult all employees, in good time, on health and safety matters. Consultation involves employers not only giving information to employees, but also listening to them and taking account of what they say before making health and safety decisions.

Safety tips

There are many safety hazards to consider when operating forklifts. Forklift safety is very important to reduce the risk and likelihood of accidents occurring when operating a forklift and helps to protect yourself and others around you.

As a forklift operator, it is part of your duty to ensure responsibility. This also includes being compliant and aware of the potential hazards you could face. Here are the areas to be considered and some of the most important safety tips to follow when operating a forklift.

Safe Operation

Carrying loads

Operating on slopes

Carrying people

When you have finished working

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