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The One Thing Forklift Operators Need to Do Daily

brakingDriving a forklift can be repetitive. Performing the same tasks day in and day out can even be boring. But even the littlest mistake can have grave consequences for forklift operators.

Forklifts are not toys. They are powerful, multi-ton industrial machines that can cause injury or even death if not driven properly and carefully. This is especially true if there already is something broken or worn on the vehicle before the operator even gets behind the wheel.

Operator Ignorance

Performing a pre-shift forklift inspection can help avoid many potential accidents. Yet it's not something every operator always does before every shift.

In fact, according to a study conducted last year by the Regulatory Body for Workplace Transport Training, 65% of forklift operators interviewed said they didn't know how to properly conduct a pre-use forklift inspection. Plus, 45% said they didn't even know how to adjust the seat. And 48% said they couldn't check to see if the mast was working right.

Excuses, Excuses

For operators, performing a pre-shift forklift inspection probably isn't on the top of their priority list. For one thing, it takes time, which keeps them from getting started with their tasks for the day.

For another, it's easier to assume that the driver who had the forklift the shift before already performed an inspection. Or at least reported any problems with the vehicle to their supervisor at the end of their shift.

Yet conducting a pre-shift inspection is critical to preventing forklift accidents and improving workplace safety. And it needs to be part of every forklift operator's everyday responsibilities.

Forklift Inspection Forms

Forklift inspections need to be performed daily. They also need to be documented. Business owners need to provide an inspection form to their drivers and require them to fill it out completely prior to every shift.

Businesses can create their own forklift pre-inspection forms or use forms that already exist. There are many available online, some more thorough than others.

This form, for example, from the University of California, is simple and binary: The item inspected is either OK or needs repair. The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration offers a much more thorough form.

Keep Forms on File

Regardless of which type of form you choose to use, they need to be filled out completely, signed by the operator, dated, and turned in to their supervisor daily. Making it part of your driver's job responsibilities and disciplining operators who fail to complete this task daily will help ensure universal compliance.

Once the forms are completed, they need to be kept in a file and kept available for review for at least one year.

OSHA requires the daily pre-shift inspection of every forklift. If there is an accident, investigators will require you to produce documentation that these inspections have been performed consistently at your business.

Nobody likes the idea of more paperwork. But some forms, like forklift pre-inspection checklists, can actually save lives, avoid injuries, and protect your business.