When Is It Appropriate to Honk Your Forklift’s Horn?

003-CFC-palettes-1024x682Honk the horn on your car and other might drivers might call you a jerk … or worse.

But use the same horn on your forklift when coming around a corner or warning pedestrians of your presence and you are a hero.

New forklift operators sometimes struggle with using their horn as frequently as is necessary. That’s because social norms tell us that honking the car horn is only a last-resort solution to alert other drivers (although horn-honking has become more prevalent thanks to the distraction of smartphones!).

But horns on forklifts are actually an essential piece of equipment that improves the safety of any workplace.

So when exactly do you need to honk the horn on your forklift? Here are a few ideas …

Working Near Pedestrians

When it comes to a matchup between forklifts and pedestrians, the forklift always has the advantage. That’s because lift trucks weigh thousands of pounds, travel three to four times as fast as humans, and are usually made of solid steel.

While the best plan is to completely segregate pedestrians from forklifts and other industrial vehicles, in the real world this isn’t always practical.

Workplaces that aren’t large enough or busy enough to have separate traffic lanes for pedestrians and vehicles need to use a different solution. That’s where forklift horns come into play.

Horns can notify pedestrians anytime forklifts in the area, or even approaching the area, where they are working, walking, or even just standing.

Coming Around Corners

Can you imagine the cacophony that would be created if drivers of cars and trucks used their horns every time they turned a corner?

But forklifts need to do just that, especially because many corners in warehouses, dock, and other workplaces are blind. Neither operators nor pedestrians can see each other coming.

Backup Alarms

While forklift horns are manually operated by the driver, backup alarms are automatically activated anytime the vehicle is put into a reverse gear. But they essentially do the same thing.

Backup alarms notify anybody in the area that the forklift is about to move backward so they have enough time to get out of the way.

But operators shouldn’t rely on backup horns solely to warn pedestrians. They also need to visually confirm that there is nobody in their path. They can also verbally warn people to get out of the way. Politely, of course.

Newbie lift truck operators may be shy about using their forklift horns while on the job, but they shouldn’t be. Unlike cars and trucks, horns on forklifts are an essential piece of safety equipment.


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