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ARI Blog: Article

Restoration Insurance: Forklift Safety Program

Many of our restoration clients have forklifts they use to haul and move their equipment and inventory. However, we have found that most do not have a forklift safety policy.

Forklift Safe Work Practices

Equipment Inspection.

  • Each shift the forklift operator will inspect their forklift before operation. If any inspection item is determined to be damaged, broken or inoperable, the operator will notify their supervisor and authorized mechanic. If possible, the forklift will be immediately repaired. If immediate repair is not possible, a determination will be made as to whether the forklift can be used safely until repairs can be made.

  • Employees may not operate an unsafe forklift at any time.

  • Forklifts will be kept in clean condition, free of dirt, excess oil and grease.

Repairs and Maintenance.

  • Only authorized mechanic will perform repairs and maintenance on forklifts and other powered material handling equipment.

  • The authorized mechanic will complete a maintenance log that identifies repair needs and corrective actions taken for each forklift.

  • If a forklift cannot be safely operated, it must be taken out of service until the repairs have been made. Forklifts that have been taken out of service will be visually marked with an out of service sign and the ignition keys will be secured in the office.

  • After repairs have been completed, the forklift must be given a performance test before being returned into service to ensure that the equipment is safe to operate.

Changing and Charging Batteries

  • Forklift batteries will only be changed and charged in the designated area.

  • Equipment is provided at battery-charging areas to safely flush and neutralize spilled battery acid and electrolytes.

  • Smoking is prohibited in all battery-charging areas.

  • Eyewash equipment is available and maintained in all charging areas.

  • Precautions will be taken to prevent open flames, sparks and electric arcs in charging areas.

  • Employees who change and service batteries and handle corrosive liquids must wear PPE including:

  • Long sleeve shirt and full length pants

  • Face shield

  • Safety glasses or goggles

  • Chemical apron

  • Chemical gloves

  • The following steps must be taken when charging forklift batteries.

  • Set emergency brake

  • Remove the battery cover

  • Check for plugged vent caps

  • Turn off battery charger then connect it to the battery

  • Avoid touching battery terminals with any metal object as this could cause a spark

  • Once batteries are charged turn off the battery charger

  • Disconnect the battery charger from the battery and replace the battery cover

LP Gas Cylinder Changing.

  • Forklift LP cylinders will only be changed in the designated area located.

  • All full and empty cylinders will be kept in the appropriately labeled cylinder cage when not on a forklift.

  • Smoking is prohibited in all cylinder changing areas.

  • Eyewash equipment is available and maintained in all changing areas.

  • Precautions are taken to prevent open flames, sparks and electric arcs in changing areas.

  • Employees who change cylinders must wear appropriate PPE including:

  • Long sleeve shirt and full length pants

  • Face shield

  • Safety glasses or goggles

  • Gloves

  • The following steps must be taken when changing all forklift LP cylinders.

  • Set emergency brake and leave engine running

  • Close tank valve and use up remaining fuel in the fuel lines

  • Turn off ignition

  • Disconnect the hose from the tank and remove the tank

  • Inspect new tank for leaks and damage (Do not use if there is a leak or dents in the tank)

  • Install the new tank and connect the hose

  • Open the tank valve and restart the engine

General Safe Work Practices.

  • Only authorized, trained personnel are permitted to operate forklifts.

  • Horseplay is prohibited.

  • Operators must drive with both hands on the steering wheel. Do not drive with wet or greasy hands.

  • No person is permitted to ride as a passenger on a forklift or on the load being carried.

  • A forklift may not be used to elevate a platform or pallet with persons on it, except work platforms specifically designed for this purpose. Work platforms must have standard guardrails, and must be securely fastened to the forks.

  • No person is allowed to stand or walk under elevated forks.

  • Operators should avoid making jerky starts, quick turns or sudden stops.

  • Operators may not use reverse as a brake.

  • Operators must slow down on wet and slippery surfaces and at cross aisles or locations where vision is obstructed.

  • Operators entering a building or nearing a blind corner must make their approach at a reduced speed, sound their horn and proceed carefully.

  • Operators must give pedestrians the right-of-way at all times.

  • Operators may not drive toward any person who is in front of a fixed object or wall.

  • Operators may not overtake and pass another forklift traveling in the same direction.

  • Operators must not put their fingers, arms or legs between the uprights of the mast, or beyond the contour of the forklift.

  • Forks should always be placed under the load as far as possible. Do not lift a load with one fork.

  • No load should be moved unless it is absolutely safe and secure.

  • Spotters must be used when handling long lengths of bar stock, pipe or other materials.

  • Compressed gas cylinders may be moved only in special pallets designed for this purpose.

  • When unloading trucks or trailers, the brakes on the vehicle must be set (locked) and the wheels chocked.

  • Forklifts must be safely parked when not in use. The controls must be neutralized, power shut off, brakes set, key removed, and the forks must be in a down position, flat on the surface, and not obstructing any walkways or aisles.

  • A forklift will not be left on an incline unless it is safely parked and the wheels chocked.

  • Only stable and safely arranged loads may be handled.

  • Only loads within the rated capacity of the forklift may be lifted or moved.


  • Facility speed limits must be observed at all times.

  • Three forklift lengths (or two seconds) must be maintained between forklifts in operation.

  • The forklift must be kept under control at all times.

  • When vision is obscured, the operator must slow down and sound the horn.

  • If the load blocks the operator’s view, the forklift must be driven in the direction that provides the best visibility.

  • Forklifts must cross railroad tracks at a diagonal.

  • Forklifts must be parked 8 feet or further from the center line of railroad tracks.

  • The forklift must be driven with the load upgrade when driving on ascending or descending grades greater than 10%.

  • Dock boards and bridge plates must be properly secured before they are driven over.

  • When the forklift is not carrying a load, the operator must travel with the forks as low as possible (maximum of 3 inches on paved surfaces). When carrying a load, it should be carried as low as possible (consistent with safe operation, 2 to 6 inches above the surface.)

  • The forks may not be operated while the forklift is traveling.

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