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Toolbox Talk - Forklift Safety

Toolbox Talk - Forklift Safety
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I. Introduction (5 minutes)


  • Begin with a quick attention-grabbing statistic related to forklift accidents (e.g., According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), forklift accidents account for roughly one in three workplace fatalities involving powered industrial vehicles).

Importance of Forklift Safety:

  • Briefly discuss the importance of safety in your workplace.
  • Highlight that forklifts, while valuable tools, can be dangerous if not operated properly.

Hazards of Forklifts:

  • Emphasise the potential consequences of unsafe forklift operation.
    • Mention specific hazards such as:
      • Tip-overs
      • Falling loads
      • Pedestrian injuries
      • Property damage

End with a Call to Action:

  • Briefly state the purpose of the talk: to review key safety practices for operating forklifts and working around them.
  • Emphasise that everyone plays a role in preventing accidents.

II. Forklift Operation Requirements (10 minutes)

Authorised Operators Only:

  • Emphasise that operating a forklift is a serious responsibility and requires proper training.
  • State that only employees who have completed a certified forklift operator training program are authorised to operate these vehicles.
  • Briefly mention the issuing body for forklift licenses/certifications in your region (e.g., OSHA in the US)

Pre-Operational Inspection:

  • Highlight the importance of conducting a pre-operational inspection before each use.
  • Briefly explain that this inspection helps identify and address any potential issues that could compromise safety during operation.
  • List some of the key components to be inspected (you can tailor this to the specific forklifts used in your workplace):
    • Tyres: Check for proper inflation and wear.
    • Brakes: Ensure they are functioning properly.
    • Steering: Test for smooth and responsive steering.
    • Hydraulics: Look for leaks or malfunctions in the lifting and tilting mechanisms.
    • Warning lights and alarms: Verify they are all operational.
  • Mention the importance of following the manufacturer's recommended inspection checklist.

Weight Capacity and Load Distribution:

  • Discuss the importance of never exceeding the forklift's rated weight capacity.
  • Explain how overloading can lead to tip-overs and other accidents.
  • Briefly explain the concept of centre of gravity and its impact on forklift stability.
  • Emphasise the importance of proper load distribution to maintain a safe centre of gravity.
    • Mention resources available for employees to determine safe load weight and distribution (e.g., forklift weight capacity charts, training materials).

III. Safe Forklift Practices (15 minutes)

A. Load Handling:

  • Securing Loads: Begin by emphasising the importance of securing loads before lifting.
    • Briefly discuss different methods for securing loads such as:
      • Using straps, pallets, or netting to prevent items from shifting or falling.
      • Ensuring proper placement of forks within the load for balanced distribution.
  • Visibility:
    • Discuss the importance of maintaining clear visibility while operating the forklift.
    • Advise against carrying loads that block your forward view.
  • Spotter and Mirrors:
    • Introduce the concept of using a spotter to guide the operator in situations with limited visibility.
    • Mention the use of convex mirrors strategically placed to improve visibility around corners or blind spots.

B. Travel and Maneuvering:

  • Safe Speeds: Emphasise maintaining safe speeds that are appropriate for the work environment, considering factors like pedestrian traffic, road conditions, and corners.
  • Pedestrian Awareness:
    • Highlight the importance of yielding the right of way to pedestrians and maintaining a safe distance.
    • Discuss the importance of using the horn at intersections and blind corners to warn pedestrians of your presence.
  • Inclines and Uneven Surfaces: Advise operators to exercise extra caution when traveling on inclines, uneven surfaces, or ramps.
    • Briefly mention techniques for safe travel on inclines, such as traveling forward with a load uphill and backward downhill.
  • Turning and Stopping: Instruct operators to make smooth, controlled turns and avoid sudden stops that could destabilize the forklift.

C. General Safety:

  • Seatbelt Use: Emphasise the mandatory use of seatbelts at all times while operating the forklift.
  • Passengers: Clearly state that passengers are strictly prohibited on forklifts.
  • Parking: Instruct operators to park the forklift safely on a level surface when not in use.
    • Mention the importance of engaging the parking brake and lowering the forks completely.
  • Reporting Damage: Remind operators to report any damage, malfunctions, or safety concerns with the forklift to a supervisor immediately.

IV. Pedestrian Safety Around Forklifts (5 minutes)

Shared Responsibility:

  • Begin by acknowledging that both forklift operators and pedestrians share responsibility for safety in forklift zones.

Pedestrian Awareness:

  • Highlight the importance of pedestrian awareness around forklifts.
  • Emphasize the following safe practices for pedestrians:
    • Maintain eye contact: Advise pedestrians to make eye contact with forklift operators and ensure they are seen before crossing paths.
    • Stay alert: Warn pedestrians against distractions like phones or headphones while in forklift areas.
    • Designated walkways: Encourage pedestrians to use designated walkways and crosswalks whenever possible.
    • No walking under loads: Stress the absolute danger of walking underneath raised loads or in close proximity to moving forklifts.


  • Briefly discuss the importance of clear communication between pedestrians and forklift operators.
    • Encourage pedestrians to use hand signals or verbally communicate their intentions if necessary.

Reporting Unsafe Behaviour:

  • Briefly mention the importance of reporting any unsafe behaviour observed by pedestrians, either by forklift operators or other pedestrians.

V. Q&A and Wrap Up (5 minutes)

Open Discussion:

  • Briefly thank everyone for their attention.
  • Open the floor for questions and address any concerns raised by employees.

Key Takeaways:

  • Briefly summarise the key points covered in the talk, emphasising:
    • The importance of authorised and trained operators.
    • Pre-operational inspections and weight capacity limits.
    • Safe load handling practices with a focus on visibility and stability.
    • Safe travel and maneuvering techniques for forklifts.
    • General safety practices including seatbelts, no passengers, proper parking, and reporting malfunctions.
    • Pedestrian safety responsibilities in forklift zones.

Shared Responsibility:

  • Reiterate that everyone plays a role in maintaining a safe work environment.
  • Encourage employees to work together to prevent forklift accidents.

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  • Thank everyone for their participation and encourage them to practice safe forklift operation and awareness around these vehicles.

You may also be interested in our article on Fork lfit training and certification

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