What’s it like to be a forklift driver?

Being a forklift driver is  a varied and involved job. Whilst some people may at first think it is a boring and unskilled job, there are several skills and duties the driver must be competent in. For a start, there are numerous styles of forklifts as well as a number of considerations relating to safety which is why operators should have their forklift certification. Given the emphasis that is placed on industrial safety these days, it is now more important than ever to be conversant with safety skills. Depending on the style of forklift, whether it is a vehicle style cabin, or a Crown Forklift stock picker, will dictate some extra safety considerations.

If you are a driver who rides on the fork control section where the driver moves up and down with the forks and load, there is a requirement to also be attached by a safety harness to the cabin control area, in case of any mishap. I would like to emphasis that being a forklift driver is normally quite safe, but like anything, precautions are required. There are also significant fines and penalties if safety regulations are ignored.

In most cases, a forklift operator is required to move loads on pallets from one place to another, such as in a storage warehouse, or when unpacking or packing trucks. When a vehicle is loaded, care and attention needs to be taken in ensuring that the weight of the load is evenly spread across the vehicle. This is to prevent any accidents should the vehicle be required to decelerate in a hurry. An unsafe load can actually be a projectile hazard.

In addition, in a warehouse environment, it is sometimes safer to ensure that heavier loads are stored near ground level. However, this depends on the type of loads. In addition, if a stock picker is used, when the forks are moved high to pick a load from a high shelf, it is imperative that the load be lowered to near ground level, and only then, should the driver commence driving. A failure to obey this safety rule can cause the forklift to topple. I don’t think much more needs to be said in a case like that, given the weight of a forklift.

There is a great weight in the base of the units to cope with the center of gravity. This prevents the forklift being unstable when a load is picked up, or placed high. However, again, to reiterate, any load should be moved only when the forks are lowered, or at least, not in their highest position. Other considerations are that the roadway needs to be very clear and free of debris, as a stock picker can become unbalanced on an unsafe surface.

Being a forklift driver also requires the ability to judge distances and to be alert to any situations that may seem out of the ordinary. Whilst forklifts are not high speed vehicles, it is important that they are maintained well, and drivers need to be Conscientious about their vehicle’s systems and safety breaks too, in the event of an emergency.