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How to Operate a Forklift

How to Operate a ForkliftHave you always wondered what it’d be like to drive a forklift? Are you itching to get out of a desk job for a more active career that’s always changing? Then taking the steps to learn how to operate a forklift sounds right for you! Forklifts are in high demand in virtually every city across the country, so it’s safe to say it won’t be hard to find a forklift job you love.

This article lays out the steps for how to operate a forklift properly, and explains why you need certified forklift training to understand how to become a forklift operator.

The Basics of Operating a Forklift

Forklifts today are much different than what they were decades ago. However, modern day life also calls for more versatility and more challenging projects. This means that operators need even more training to make sure they are equipped with the knowledge and skills to avoid hazards and prevent accidents.

The key to operating a forklift is getting the training that will teach you how to be the best and safest operator. Without this training, you simply won’t be prepared for the job and you won’t appeal to employers who are looking for certified and dedicated operators. With OSHA fines rising and safety requirements becoming stricter, you simply can’t afford not to complete training.

The Steps to Operating a Forklift

Knowing how to operate a forklift involves three main components that ensure the forklift is safe to drive, and the operator knows how to drive the forklift safely and handle loads properly.

1. Pre-Operation Check-Ups and Inspections

A forklift with any malfunctions, defects, missing or damaged parts, or low fluid levels is never safe to operate. Check the following items before beginning work and make sure you’re wearing the appropriate clothing, including a hard hat, gloves, hard soled shoes, and a visibility vest.

  • Fluid levels
  • Leaks, cracks, or other visible defects
  • Tire condition and pressure
  • Fork condition
  • Operator’s manual
  • Safety devices
  • All controls
  • Brakes
  • Warnings signals and lights

2. Traveling and Maneuvering

Follow these steps to drive a forklift safely:

  • Keep hands clean and shoes grease-free when mounting and dismounting the forklift
  • Only park and refuel in authorized areas
  • Always brake and stop slowly
  • Only drive at a speed that is easy to stop
  • Slow down for wet floors, at cross aisles, and when turning
  • Always keep a clear view
  • Use horn or lights to warn pedestrians when reversing
  • Leave plenty of room for pedestrians and never assume they see you

3. Load Handling

Forklifts are designed for picking up, stacking, and unstacking loads and pallets. It’s essential to learn how to handle loads correctly to prevent forklift tip-overs.

  • Note the shape and size of the load, and the size of the forks
  • Approach loads slowly and carefully
  • Only lift the load as high as you need to
  • Always make sure the load is stable and balanced
  • Center the load and never overload the forklift
  • Place the forks under the load as far as possible
  • Center the weight of the load between the forks
  • Tilt the mast back slightly to stabilize the load

Forklift maintenance is also an important part of safe operating. If you’re wondering how often should operators inspect their forklift, the answer is every day. Yes, each day before every shift, operators are required to perform equipment inspections to ensure there are no hazards that could cause an accident.

Why You Need Special Forklift Training

Forklift training will go far beyond the basic steps we outlined above in how to operate a forklift. If you want to become a professional forklift operator, you need to know how to get certified for forklift operator to become an expert and be able to recognize and avoid hazards to prevent accidents.

How to Become a Forklift Operator

Now that you know how to operate a forklift, it’s time to complete your training to be qualified to do so. It’s very important to seek out an OSHA-compliant training program to ensure you are receiving the most up-to-date information possible that is covered under OSHA regulations and requirements.

When looking for a training course, it needs to cover the following:

  • Teach operating basics and maneuvering techniques
  • Cover warehouse-specific operating systems
  • Teach truck-related information to give operators a good understanding of the workings of a forklift
  • Teach workplace-related topics

Training must include these components:

  • Formal instruction, such as text, video, and interactive computer learning
  • Practical training led by a qualified trainer
  • A skills evaluation in-person offers this exact type of training that covers all these bases.

Get Forklift Training Online from

If you’re wanting to learn how to operate a forklift and start a new career, can provide all the training you need. We teach students how to drive Warehouse Forklifts, Pallet Jacks and Order Pickers, and Rough Terrain Forklifts, all from our online platform. You can access the training modules from any device with an internet connection, 24/7. And in only about one hour you can be holding your operator card and be an expert at operating a forklift, all for one affordable price.

If you want to learn exactly how to become a forklift operator, look no further than!

Read more about our OSHA-compliant online Training Kit, and contact us with any questions you may have!


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