Forklift Safety Facts

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that there are 100 fatalities and 20,000 serious injuries in the United States each year that involve forklifts. The BLS data has found that the most common forklifts related fatalities are overturns 22%, workers on foot being struck or run over 20%, workers crushed by forklifts 16%, and falls from forklifts 9%. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that inadequate training caused approximately 20 to 25% of these fatalities. OSHA regulations require that forklift operators be trained in how to operate them safely.

Safety Rules for Forklift Operators:

  • Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), for agriculture, minors under the age of 16 are prohibited from operating forklifts, in non-agricultural industries; youth under 18 are prohibited from operating forklifts.
  • Always inspect forklift before using it. Check controls.
  • Never exceed the lifting capacity of the forklift. Check the data plate on the forklift to find this information.
  • Wear the seatbelt and proper clothing, such as a helmet.
  • Never allow an extra rider.
  • Be aware of obstacles, both ahead and overhead.
  • Be alert when driving the forklift, look out for bystanders and obstructions. Pedestrians have the right of way.
  • Never allow anyone to walk under a raised fork.
  • Sound the horn on a blind intersection, going through doors or when going to back up, if you cannot see well, have a spotter.
  • Stability of the forklift decreases as a load is raised.
  • Make sure the load is secure.
  • Lower the load to move.
  • If you exceed the load capacity the rear of the forklift will begin to raise off the ground, abort the lift immediately.
  • Never turn when operating on slope, always go straight up and down. With a loaded forklift, keep the load pointed uphill, with an empty forklift, travel uphill in reverse.
  • Always lower the forks to the ground when parking the forklift and set the parking brake.
  • Do NOT smoke near a forklift that is being refueled.

Safety Rules for Pedestrians or Workers on Foot:

  • Never get between a forklift and a wall or fixed object.
  • Stay out of marked forklift travel paths.
  • Never walk under a raised fork.
  • Always be alert to forklifts that are operating in your vicinity, the operator may not be aware you are there.
  • Make sure the operator knows you are there (make eye contact would be best) before walking out in front or behind the forklift.
  • Never operate a forklift unless you have been properly TRAINED.
  • Never be an extra rider on a forklift.

To become OSHA trained and certified go to

User Login