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Avoid Fatal Forklift Injuries With One Simple Daily Checklist

February 12, 2021
June 21, 2023
Asian fork lift truck driver discussing checklist with foreman

For workers in warehouse or storeroom settings forklifts can be one of the main sources of serious injuries and even death. According to the McCue Corporation, a major provider and distributor of material handling machinery and equipment, “forklifts account for around 85 deaths every year. Forklift accidents that result in serious injury total 34,900 annually. Non-serious injuries related to forklift accidents reach 61,800 each year. A forklift overturning is the most common incident, accounting for 24% of all forklift accidents.” 

The standard warehouse-style forklift can weigh well over 9,000 pounds, which is three times as heavy as a regular sedan-style car. Forklifts can travel at speeds of up to 18 miles per hour, making them a risk for collisions - and most forklifts only have brakes in the front, making them harder to stop. Furthermore, the large loads are carried in the front of the forklift, which can impede the view of the drivers. Finally, forklifts are also designed to raise heavy loads to considerable heights, and this can also result in potentially dangerous accidents. 

All of these characteristics of forklifts make them a potential source of dangerous collisions and other workplace accidents. However, with proper safety protocols in place, forklifts can be managed in a safe and secure manner. Designing and implementing a forklift daily checklist is the best way to ensure that all of your warehouse employees, from drivers to other employees who share the physical space where forklifts are operated, avoid accidents. 

What Should a Forklift Daily Checklist Include?

Operators of forklifts need to take the time to do a series of visual and operational checks before ever turning on the machinery.

The most important visual checks should include: 

  • Looking for dented or otherwise broken parts 
  • Identifying fuel, hydraulic, or other types of leaks
  • Ensuring that the forks themselves are not bent, worn, or damaged 
  • Ensuring that all chains and cables are properly secured
  • Confirming that all guards are functioning and in proper place 
  • Certifying that the fire extinguisher, seat belt, and other mechanical safety devices are present and functional 
  • Checking that all of the operator’s compartment controls are fully operational and in good condition, including steer tiller, pedals, and seat locks

The relevant operational checks before using the forklift include: 

  • All indicator lights are working upon power up 
  • Ensuring that the power disconnect function cuts off all electrical power
  • Guaranteeing that all electrical safety devices such as the horn and indicator lights are working 
  • Feeling that the steering mechanism does not present binding or excessive “play”
  • Checking that the brakes and travel control mechanisms work properly -  This should be checked first at low speeds
  • Ensuring that the parking brake is operating correctly 
  • Fully testing all hydraulic controls for smooth operation without any strange noises 
  • Ensuring that all the limit switches, including the travel limit, lift limit, tilt limit, and safety reverse are working correctly 
  • Confirming that the battery charge is at 75 percent or more after raising forks 
  • Making sure that the wire guidance, including the SP and Turret option are functional 
  • Testing at low speed that the end aisle control is working, especially that the alarm beeps and the forklift slows or stops at programmed aisle ends

This forklift inspection checklist should be carried out daily, preferably before main shift employees arrive at the work area. A trained forklift operator should be able to carry out this inspection checklist in under 30 minutes. Proper paperwork and filing of this daily checklist is essential to ensure that the machinery is in proper operational order. You can find a complete OSHA daily forklift inspection checklist in PDF form here

Make Forklift Safety Your Priority With Work-Fit

A proper forklift inspection checklist is only one part of a wider injury prevention program for your workplace. Companies that operate heavy machinery in a warehouse style setting could benefit from hiring a third-party to help them develop adequate safety and injury prevention protocols.

is a leading provider of injury prevention and management services for your workforce. Our workplace injury prevention program is a great resource to help your company train your employees in the best safety protocols and precautions when working with or around heavy machinery. Contact Work-Fit today to see how we can help your company improve the health and safety of your warehouse workers.


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