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You may work in a place that uses forklifts or are looking for jobs that require forklift use. Forklifts are industrial trucks with a “fork” on the front that is used to lift heavy objects and move materials in a warehouse or workplace. Forklift operation requires a certification usually administered through your employer. Follow our guide on how to use a forklift to safely and effectively get the job done.

1. Safety training

There are several online resources where you can receive an OSHA certified forklift training before you start applying for jobs. More often than not, your employer will provide forklift training before you begin using one on the job. Not all employers may cover all training topics if they don’t apply to their specific workplace. OSHA requires that every employee handling a forklift be properly trained, validated by supervisors, and those employees receive an evaluation every three years.

2. Practice driving

It’s always good to get a few practice drives and lifts in before you’re on the job. Practice lifting materials around the workplace in an open area. It’s a lot different than driving a car.

3. Proper clothing and gear

Your employers may have a specific policy or uniform that you must wear while operating a forklift truck. Depending on where you work, you may be required to wear reflective clothing, safety glasses, and steel toe boots. Always wear long sleeves and pants that are tight enough to not get caught on things, but loose enough to be comfortable. If you’re working in food storage, it may be wise to have gloves and a hat so you aren’t cold.

4. Check the vehicle

Most employers have an inspection you must complete before operating your forklift. In general, look around the vehicle for any damage, make sure the horn is working, and all the controls are in working order.

5. Make sure it’s set correctly

Make note of what you’ll be lifting for the day and that the width of the forks is set according to that. You may need to make note of the weight of the product and if you need a different machine for that. Lift only to the height needed to avoid imbalance.

6. Be aware of your surroundings

Avoid distractions like loud music and make sure you’re fully alert and ready to drive. Make sure the area you’re lifting to is clear and watch for other employees.

About the Author: Diana is a guest contributor from SCMH, a forklift sale and rental company in California.

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