Forklift Pre-Shift Inspections – a Practical Approach

Daily Pre-Shift inspections are a requirement by OSHA to ensure the lift truck that is about to haul around thousands of pounds, is safe to do so.  In addition to compliance, catching small service issues before they blossom into giant repair or incident headaches is a protection to your bottom line.

Daily Inspections – Are your forklifts being inspected and documented before each shift by your operators?  Visit our Catalog and checkout our Checklist Caddy, which will help you keep track of each inspection.  Listed below are a few of the key components to inspect on a daily basis before operating your lift truck.

Horns – Are all the horns working on your lift trucks?  OSHA requires truckers to “sound the horn at cross aisles and other locations where the vision is obstructed.” 1910.178 (n) (4) To further protect employees and ensure a safe facility, back-up alarms are a best practice.  Are your lifts equipped and are they all in good working order?

Seat Belts – Are your lift truck’s seat belts all in good working order? 

Tires – Chunked tires or severely worn tires present a significant hazard for operators and pedestrians alike.

Gauges – Are all the gauges and indicators in good working order on each of your lift trucks? This includes hour meters, oil pressure, temperature and any other gauge installed by the manufacturer.

Forks – When was the last time your forks were inspected for wear, cracks or other unsafe conditions? 10% wear in forks, reduces the safe lifting capacity of your lift trucks by 20%!

Lighting – Are your forklifts appropriately equipped with working lights, where lighting is less than 2 lumens per square foot? 1910.178 (h) (2).  This generally means all forklifts that enter a semi-trailer while equipped with an opaque or solid roof will require lights on your lift truck.  To reinforce facility safety and provide additional protection, safety lights are recommended on the rear overhead guard.

Fire Extinguishers – Depending upon the class of potential fire, employees must be provided with fire extinguishers so that their distance from an extinguisher is no more than 50 ft (class B hazard area) to 75 ft (Class A and D).  In the absence of an appropriate sprinkler system, forklifts that travel out into a facility without adequate fire extinguisher coverage should be equipped with an extinguisher, particularly if you use IC engine trucks.  If using IC it is always a best practice to minimize facility hazards by equipping your lift trucks with a working fire extinguisher.

Battery Changing – Is your battery changing station safe?  If you are using a crane, has it been inspected recently for safety?  Do you have the appropriate personal equipment for changing batteries (gloves, goggles etc…), and are there appropriate warning signs?

Wheel chocks – If your forklifts are parked on an incline, not only must the brakes be set and the engine in neutral, but the wheels must be chocked.  Does your facility have wheel chocks at locations (dock ramps) where these are required?  OSHA does not give an inclined degree, so think conservatively.  It is better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.  In addition to wheel chocks for forklifts, your facility must provide wheel chocks for semi-trailers to keep them secured against the dock during loading and unloading.  Are all your semi-trailer wheel chocks available and in good working condition?

Lock-outs – If a forklift is in need of repair, it must remain out of service until repairs are made.  How do you ensure that this forklift is not being used by an unsuspecting employee?  Lock-out kits prevent forklifts from being used by employees until they are repaired and returned to service.

Remember, when it comes to operating a lift truck, an operator must

  • Be trained and authorized to operate the specific lift truck to be used
  • Read and understand the operator’s manual
  • Not operate a faulty lift truck (requiring a pre-shift inspection)
  • Not try to repair a lift truck unless trained and authorized to do so
  • Have the overhead guard and load backrest extension in place

During operation, a lift truck operator must:

  • Wear a seat belt
  •  Keep entire body inside truck cab
  • Never carry passengers or lift people
  • Keep lift truck away from people and obstructions
  • Travel with lift mechanism as low as possible and tilted back
  • Allow safe stopping distance and come to a complete stop before leaving operator compartment
  • When coming to a stop, an operator must:
    • Completely lower forks or attachments
    • Shift into neutral
    • Turn key off
    • Set parking brake

This is just a partial list. OSHA will want to be satisfied that you have in place a solid program for ensuring a safe forklift fleet.  A good Preventive Maintenance Program (PM) with a responsible partner will help keep your forklift fleet in peak operating condition, and your operators and pedestrians as safe as possible.

We hope this list helps you to understand that when it comes to a safe forklift fleet, operator training is just one facet of a safe and productive working environment.  If you want a partner that will work with you to make sure you achieve this, Brodie Toyota-Lift should be your next call.

When it comes to forklift safety, parts and preventive maintenance programs, no company beats Brodie.  Our team of professionals has been doing it for decades! We would appreciate the opportunity to earn your business. Next time a need arises, give us a call.  You will be glad you did.