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Next Certificate Program Start: 01/23/2023  |  Next Associate Degree Program Start: 04/04/2023

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Tips on How to Drive a Forklift for the First Time

Forklifts and their operators are vital to not only the construction industry but also warehouse operations around the world. Whether it’s moving goods or transporting materials, you’ll see forklifts in indoor and outdoor settings. Like many other heavy equipment operators, forklift drivers need certification and safety training before they can start their careers as forklift operators. Here are some tips for first-time forklift drivers.

Things First-time Forklift Drivers Should Consider

From the outside, driving a forklift might look quite difficult, especially for first-timers. However, many now-certified forklift operators can tell you it’s as easy to do as driving a car. However, that doesn’t mean it can be taken lightly. There are plenty of things you must consider before driving a forklift for the first time. Here are just a few forklift safety tips and other considerations.

Wear Appropriate Attire

There are several personal protective equipment (PPE) items forklift operators should have on while driving the forklift. From a hi-visibility vest, proper boots, and pants to hard hats—each item is designed for your protection while at work. Loose clothing is something you should avoid, as it can easily get caught in the forklift.

Visual Inspection

Always examine the forklift before use. Check for signs of damage in the warning devices, lifting devices, controls, tires, and more. Report any visible defects or damage for proper maintenance and repair.

Check Fuel Level or Battery Charge

You can’t drive a forklift if it’s on empty. Some forklifts use battery power, whereas others use gas. After starting the machine, check out the gas level or battery charge to ensure it’s optimal for operation.

Failing to check the power or fuel source can result in major damage or injury. If your forklift runs out of power during operation, you risk it malfunctioning and dropping any materials it’s lifting. Take the time to check the gauge on the dashboard for the right power levels before proceeding.

Make Adjustments Before Starting the Forklift

You wouldn’t drive a car if you couldn’t comfortably reach the pedals or steering wheel right? The same mindset should be used when driving a forklift. Ensure you make appropriate adjustments to your seat so you can reach all controls. It’s always easier to get the job done when you’re in a comfortable position. You should also be wearing your seat belt anytime you’re in the driver’s seat.

Be Mindful of Others

Whether you’re operating a forklift on a construction site or in a warehouse, always be mindful of what’s going on around you. People are not always paying attention to where they are walking or working. The responsibility is on you, the driver, to check your direct path and surroundings for oncoming traffic or personnel.

As a first-timer, take it slowly until you’re fully comfortable maneuvering the forklift. Give others the right of way and be on constant alert for people and obstructions in your path.

Distracted Driving Is Dangerous Driving

Put down smartphones and other devices when driving the forklift. Even a monument distraction can end in disaster. Keep your eyes on what’s in front and around you—not on your phone!

Maintain Proper Operating Speed

In most worksites, there will be a speed limit posted—and for good reason. Operating at the speed limit helps ensure a safe environment and gives you more time to react to potential or sudden obstructions in your path.

Start Your Career in Heavy Equipment Industry

Learning how to operate any piece of heavy equipment can be intimidating. But with the right training and education, you can drive a forklift safely and confidently. We have resources that’ll teach you how to operate a forklift. But that’s not all. HEC offers students the chance to complete heavy equipment training on various machines in as little as three weeks. Check out all of our programs, some of which are available in multiple locations across the country.

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