This session covers the basic concepts of operating a forklift safely and prepares you for hands-on operator training. California has strict requirements on all manners of operation and equipment, which we will discuss in general throughout this training session. By the end of this session, you will be able to understand how a forklift works; recognize how operating a forklift is different from driving a car; understand the basic principles of operating a forklift safely and skillfully; identify the hazards of operating a forklift in the workplace; know how to properly inspect and maintain a forklift; and understand California’s required safety procedures to help control the risk of serious forklift accidents.
Why “Safe Forklift Operation in California” Matters:
Forklifts can be dangerous. In an average year, at least one worker a week is killed in a forklift accident. In California, there were 50 recorded deaths from “contact with objects and equipment” at work. Some of those who die are forklift operators, and others are employees working near forklift operations. In addition to deaths, tens of thousands of forklift-related injuries occur each year. Many of these result in lost workdays. Most accidents and injuries could be prevented with specialized forklift safety training. In California, before employees are permitted to use forklifts, every employer must provide a three-part training program consisting of classroom training, demonstrations and exercises, and evaluation.
- Know the main hazards of forklifts, which include pedestrians, environmental conditions in the workplace, and loading and unloading.
- Position loads as close as possible to the vertical backrest. Remember what you learned about the center of gravity of a load and the “stability triangle.”
- Always conduct and document a preoperational inspection before operating a forklift.
- Always follow the safe operating “rules of the road.”
- Refuel or recharge your forklift in properly ventilated areas, following all safety rules and wearing proper perrsonal protective equipment (PPE).
- And lastly, know your workplace’s forklift operation safety rules and understand your state’s requirements. California’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) performs regular inspections and enforces its rules with fines and shutdowns if the safety rules are not followed.