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Before you attempt to lift a load, be sure that your vehicle can handle the weight of the load by checking the manufacturer’s nameplate located on the body of the vehicle. Be sure that the load is properly stacked and secure.

When lifting pallet loads, place the forks as wide apart as possible to increase stability during the lift. Slowly move forward with the forks only two to three inches off of the floor, until the forks are three-fourths of the way into the load. The center of the truck should be in line with the center of the load. Lift the load up and tilt the load back toward the mast to shift the center of gravity toward the truck. This maneuver increases stability. Then, lift the load up two to three inches, honk the horn, continue to look side-to-side and behind you, then slowly move back until you can place the load safely on the floor, clear of any other materials.

By placing the forks only three-fourths into the load, you avoid potential damage to the product that may be on the other side of the load or encountering other hazards, such as electrical equipment. Now you can place the forks fully into the load and against the backrest, lift, and tilt back. Honk the horn, continue to look side-to-side and behind you, then begin to back out slowly into the trucking aisle, always looking for other trucks and pedestrians. Other methods of audible alerts for powered industrial trucks include beepers and backup alarms that alert others to your movements.

When placing a load on an elevated location, be sure to position your forklift truck properly before elevating the load. The vehicle should be directly in front of the placement area, perpendicular to where the load will be placed and centered. When in position, stop, lift the load two to three inches above the stack or rack, and slowly inch forward. Be sure to keep at least two to three inches of clearance on each side of the load.

When directly over the rack, stop. Slowly lower the load onto the supporting stack or rack. Honk the horn, continue to look side-to-side and behind you and slowly move backward, continuously looking side-to-side and in the direction of travel. Lower your forks to the running position of six to ten inches from the floor, and when clear, proceed forward.

It should be noted that all forklift trucks must be fitted with overhead guards to protect the operator from the impact of falling loads. Exceptions to this rule are outlined in the OSHA standard.

Interested in learning more?

Get more information about the Powered Industrial Trucks course here.