Check a Forklift for Safe Use

Safety is crucial when operating a forklift. There are many types of forklifts but for the most part checking them follows the same procedure. So here are some suggestions on how you can check that a forklift you are using is in good condition, has no potential safety hazards and is safe to use.


  1. Look at the safety equipment. Standard for most, if not all types of forklifts are the following:
    • Seat belts, operator restraints. Skid steer lifts have a sissy bar that drops around the operator's torso, most others have a common belt type restraint.
    • Backup alarm or bell. This will alert persons working around your equipment that you are reversing the machine.
    • Fire extinguisher. Should be ABC rated, 10 pound minimum, with a full charge, and located in an easy location to reach.
    • Mirrors mounted in a position so that the areas behind the machine can be watched from the operator's seat.
    • Load lift and angle (all-terrain type only) charts.
    • Rating stamp on each fork, to assure the forks are original equipment or heavier duty.
    • Parking brake, highway warning flashers and signs, boom angle indicator, and level tilt indicator if applicable for the use.
  2. Check the coolant, engine oil, and transmission fluid prior to operating. Failure of any of these can render the forklift inoperable in a precarious position.To do this, you will need to lift the engine cover and move the steering wheel forward.
  3. Check for any oil leaks around the forklift. This should include lift cylinders, wheel hubs, hydraulic fittings and valve spools.
  4. Check the hydraulic lines. Check the lines for any wear and tear. Any exposed reinforcing wire or crushed steel fittings indicate a possibly catastrophic failure of the machine's hydraulic system.
  5. Look at any lift chains and rollers if the machine is so equipped. Damaged links in lift chains can break, allowing loads to fall, worn or out-of-round rollers can bind, throwing rails off their tracks on telescoping lifts.
  6. Check the tires for any significant wear. Make sure they are properly inflated, and have no rubber damage to their sidewalls or treads. A sudden blow-out can cause a forklift to overturn, injuring or killing by-standers and the operator.
  7. Check that the brakes are working properly. If you are carrying heavy material and cannot stop, someone will get hurt.
  8. Keep the operator's area clean. Debris can make using controls difficult by jamming them or blocking access to them.
  9. Look around the area where you are operating the machine, and ask these questions:
    • Will the ground support the equipment?
    • Is the ground level enough for safe travel?
    • Are there any obstructions which can cause tire failure in your path?
    • Do you have minimum clearance from overhead power lines?


  • Make sure every operator does his/her own safety check before operating the machine.
  • Check the service record of your lift before each shift.
  • Tag out any equipment if it has been determined it is unsafe for use. Remove the key, if the machine is equipped with one.


  • Never operate a forklift without training. In most jurisdictions of many countries, you will need a license or certificate of training.

Things You'll Need

  • Forklift
  • License
  • Safety check list
  • Record all the check list

Related Articles