Forklift Checklists

Build a culture of forklift safety using mobile-ready checklists

Published 28 Jul 2021

What is a Forklift Checklist?

A forklift checklist is a tool used by forklift operators to ensure that powered industrial trucks are in good working condition before use. Forklift checklists are used in conducting safety inspections and maintenance checks to reduce the likelihood of avoidable injuries and deaths caused by faulty forklifts in warehouses, factories, shipping yards, and other workplaces.

This article will briefly discuss the following:

  1. what are OSHA requirements for forklift checklists?;
  2. how can operators inspect and maintain forklifts?;
  3. forklift operators to focus on;
  4. comparison between paper-based checklist and digital one; and
  5. free forklift checklists you can download, customize, and use.

OSHA Forklift Checklist Requirements

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires all industrial trucks to be examined before using them, and forklifts should not be used when the inspection reveals any condition adversely affecting the safety of the vehicle. Operators should perform forklift pre-use checks at least once a day, but when industrial trucks are used round-the-clock, they should be inspected after each shift.

OSHA provides sample forklift checklists for internal combustion and electric trucks, but operators should refer to the owner’s manual, specifications, and manufacturer’s recommendations to modify them and suit other workplace needs. OSHA also requires all forklift defects to be reported immediately and qualified mechanics should correct them.

Forklift Inspection and Maintenance Tips for Operators

In terms of forklift safety, failure to inspect powered industrial trucks before use is one of the most cited OSHA violations, along with failure to remove unsafe trucks from service. Here are simple ways how forklift operators can easily perform pre-operation inspections and maintenance checks:

  • Inspect from the outside-in during engine off checks

    It can be easier for operators to perform the necessary pre-use inspections by practicing the outside-in technique for assessing the safety of a forklift. Start by checking the condition of the tires, forks, and load backrest extension. Safety decals and nameplates should be clear and visible, especially for load capacity details.
    Finally, go through a fluid levels check, including but not limited to oil, water, and hydraulic fluid, and make sure the operator manual is onboard before mounting the lift truck. Wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and practice proper ergonomic procedures to avoid slipping or tripping upon entry.

  • Investigate unusual noises during engine checks

    Always check if the seat belt works and wear it. Look out for leaks in the operator compartment, especially while the engine is running. Forklift operators should test the brakes, controls, and steering operation to ensure that they’re functioning properly.
    The forklift’s horn, lights, and alarms should also be tested, and for electric industrial trucks, keep an eye on the hour meter and battery discharge indicators. Forklift operators should immediately report unusual noises or vibrations during the operational inspection.

  • Be mindful of potential hazards for removal from service

    While driving, be alert for potential fire, leakage, overheating, and mechanical breakdown. If any of these defects among other safety issues are detected, forklift operators should stop, park the vehicle, and get help. While meeting deadlines and getting the job done matters, your safety and the safety of those around you matter more.

  • Schedule preventive maintenance inspections regularly

    Regular maintenance is crucial to keep the safe operation of forklifts. A sign that could mean lift trucks are overdue for their adequate maintenance is when they skid or slide while in operation because of grease and spills. During preventive maintenance, powered industrial trucks should also be free of debris and lint to avoid improperly-working controls.

Empower Your Forklift Operators so They Can Focus on What Matters Most

Your forklift operators need to lift heavy loads, safely navigate through aisles, and watch out for pedestrians. They need to do all these and more as quickly as possible. iAuditor empowers your team to streamline inspections and post-inspection tasks, helping them focus better on operating their forklifts as safely as possible.

It helps operators from various industries simplify their forklift inspections. This technology solution offers a predictive way of managing safety issues, protecting businesses from costly forklift downtime, and saving their employees’ lives.

Whether you’re a supervisor in a warehouse, construction site, or manufacturing plant, the gravity of the forklift inspections your operators undertake can’t be taken for granted. Forklifts are crucial in your business’ logistics, thus you ensure inspections are performed consistently and efficiently. You are aware of the extreme consequences a single, inoperable forklift can cause to your operations.

E-commerce giants eBay and Amazon estimate their forklifts’ downtime value at whopping costs of $3,750 and $3,000 per minute, respectively. Reduce eBay’s downtime value by 95%, and smaller businesses can still lose a significant amount of $11,250 per hour. On top of an inoperable forklift’s financial impact, other repercussions can include employees getting stressed because of the tense environment and, ultimately, your company’s reputation suffering due to unfulfilled customer demands.

Forklift inspections can mean the difference between profit and loss, which is why they need to be completed as effectively and efficiently as possible. If your operators currently use paper checklists for forklift inspections and you’ve begun to recognize its pitfalls, you might be looking for a solution that can resolve those drawbacks. Take a look at your current forklift inspection process and see if a forklift app is a solution your operators need.

Compare Your Paper-Based Forklift Inspection with Digital One

Here’s how forklift operators typically complete inspections with a paper checklist:

  1. Operator logs findings on a printed forklift checklist
  2. If there’s a noted defect on the forklift, the operator shall immediately take a picture of it with a camera and tag the forklift as “Out of Service”
  3. Once the inspection is completed, the operator takes a trip to the office to (a) submit the report to the shift supervisor for record-keeping; and (b) report the defect to the supervisor and maintenance personnel and request repair for the forklift

On the other hand, you, the shift supervisor, undertake the following tasks (or at least some of them):

  1. Upon receipt of the accomplished checklist and report from the operator, you make your own report to your management via a word processor
  2. You retrieve the pictures from the operator, upload them to your PC/laptop, and attach them to the report
  3. Once your report has been finalized, you either print it for submission, or you convert it to PDF and email it to the higher-ups. 

This paper-based inspection poses challenges that you may have already noticed in your everyday workflow. This can include the hassle of collating necessary documents to create a report, piles of paperwork in your office, and delays in communicating forklift issues. As highlighted previously, you know that time is gold in forklift operations, and you shouldn’t allow these issues to continue crippling your forklift safety program.

As one of the main people who manage forklift safety in your workplace, you may have asked yourself if it’s time for a change and considered a forklift inspection app as a solution. If this is the case, we’ll share with you the advantages you and your forklift operators can enjoy with a forklift app.

Advantages of Digital Forklift Checklist

Your forklift operators have a lot to pay attention to on top of performing complete inspections. They need to lift heavy loads, safely navigate through aisles, and watch out for pedestrians—and they need to do all these as quickly as possible. A forklift app can help your team manage inspections, reporting, and data analytics more efficiently, thus helping you focus on more important things. Here are the 3 main advantages of a forklift app:

  1. Easier forklift inspections and less paperwork
    With a forklift app, all your operators need during inspections is a mobile device—no more pens, papers, and cameras. A forklift app allows them to eliminate paperwork and fill out digital checklists, capture photos, annotate them, and generate a report instantly with just a few taps. You won’t need to dive through piles of paperwork when presenting proof of compliance to OSHA because your forklifts’ records of service are all secure in the cloud.
  2. A more streamlined process, from inspection scheduling to reports generation
    Gone are the days of extra trips to the office and extra steps for retrieving photos. A forklift app enables you to instantly send reports (with complete attachments and notes) to whoever needs them via email or the app itself. You also have the power to remotely schedule and assign tasks (e.g. monthly or quarterly maintenance schedules) to your operators within the app’s central dashboard.
  3. Real-time data at your fingertips
    With a forklift app, your operators can immediately notify you and maintenance personnel of any disrepair or malfunction. Having quick access to this information empowers you to make immediate decisions and avoid costly downtime.

Use iAuditor by SafetyCulture to streamline your forklift inspections and ensure safety in factories, warehouses, shipping yards, and more.

SafetyCulture Content Specialist

Shine Colcol

Shine Colcol is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture since 2019, mostly covering topics about health and safety, environmental, and operations management. She is passionate in empowering teams to build a culture of continuous improvement through well-researched and engaging content. Her experience in cross-industry digital publishing help enrich the quality of information in her articles.

Shine Colcol is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture since 2019, mostly covering topics about health and safety, environmental, and operations management. She is passionate in empowering teams to build a culture of continuous improvement through well-researched and engaging content. Her experience in cross-industry digital publishing help enrich the quality of information in her articles.