Forklift Driving ‚Äď Manage And Reduce The Risks


While every step must be taken to minimise the chance of a forklift incident,it is wise to be aware of what to do should you be involved in one.


When a forklift is travelling around a corner or down a slope, when it accelerates or brakes, forces are developed that can result in it rolling sideways, tipping forwards or backwards.

When a forklift overturns, the safest place for the operator is in the cabin with a seatbelt on. Body restraints should be fitted and worn. The operator is advised to hold on, stay with the truck and lean in the opposite direction of the overturn.

Almost every time an operator jumps from their forklift while it is overturning they are killed. While seatbelts can be a nuisance, they can also be a life saver.

In a reach truck or stand-up type forklift with rear access, seatbelts should be worn if fitted.


Employers have a primary duty to provide a safe workplace.

Providing a safe work environment, training, well maintained machinery and effective traffic management plans all play an important part in reducing the risks posed by forklifts in the workplace.

All employees, including managers and supervisors, have a duty to ensure the actions they take, or neglect to take, do not put themselves or others at risk.

When it can be proven that an employer’s negligence has contributed to a third party’s injury, such as a customer or delivery truck driver, WorkSafe Victoria (WorkSafe) can, and does, seek recovery of costs against the employer under the Accident Compensation Act 1985. These costs could potentially run to millions of dollars and have a devastating effect on any business.


There is a recognised need for manufacturers and suppliers to provide more information on a forklift’s capabilities and limitations.

Often users are not aware of a truck’s limitations. This can lead to a forklift being used close to its limits of stability.

In the design process, manufacturers can take steps to eliminate risks posed by forklifts in the workplace by introducing, and promoting, intelligent systems (Smart Forklifts) such as:

mechanisms that prevent forklifts from starting when the driver is not restrained by a seatbelt or another device;

limiting travel speeds to as low as 8km/h (9km/h for dual tyred forklifts), except where manufacturers can provide stability figures to show otherwise. This would assist in reducing the occurrence of side tipovers. (Uneven operating surfaces could require a lower speed limit);

speed limiters to reduce the maximum speed of a forklift depending on the load, the height of the load and turning radius;

systems to monitor and limit the number of wheel rotations while the forks are elevated to prevent forklifts being driven with raised forks; and

load weighing devices supplied as standard equipment on forklifts.

Manufacturers should also provide information on a forklift’s limitations on uneven surfaces and inclines.

Manoeuvring while stacking with off-centre loads at full height, especially on a surface with a 2% difference in gradient (20mm in 1 metre), can significantly impact on forklift stability.

When commissioning a new forklift, adjustments can be made to mast lift cylinders to prevent overloading. The maximum hydraulic pressure should be set at about 110% of the rated load at full height with the mast vertical.

Forklifts are often supplied with decals or numbers painted on the side that can be mistaken for the forklift’s operating capacity. These should be removed or replaced with numbers that represent the correct capacity for Australian conditions.

Manufacturers should incorporate swivel seats where practicable on forklifts to ease the back strains caused to operators while turning to look behind.

Manufacturers should provide information and recommendations on dynamic effects on stability of different tyre types.

Selecting, using and maintaining attachments:

When an attachment is fitted to a forklift the dynamic and operating characteristics may change, making it necessary to de-rate the forklift capacity and restrict some operating controls.

Attachments such as side shift devices, jibs and extension forks must have rated capacities and information on the type of forklift that is suitable for use in connection with such attachments.

The revised capacity when an attachment is used is to be endorsed on the load plate.

For more information about the courses we offer and how to make you workplace a safer environment, visit our Forklift Driver Course section.

Original article: Worksafe

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