A Comprehensive Guide to Forklift Operating Rules for Safe Load Handling

Forklifts are among the most commonly used vehicles to transport heavy loads in warehouses, farms, and factories. Businesses across the United Kingdom employ thousands of forklift operators to operate forklifts safely. To work as a forklift operator in the United Kingdom, workers need proper forklift certification. Forklift training courses train workers how to correctly use different forklifts and educate them about the standard safety guidelines to avoid bad accidents at work.

There are a variety of forklifts that are used by companies, each with its own lifting capabilities and maximum weight limits. For example, there are electric forklifts, Bendi lift trucks, internal combustion forklifts, and rough terrain forklifts. Your employer will choose which forklifts they wish to use in their workplace depending on terrain, the kind of workload that the vehicle is expected to undertake, and the heights from which the forklift will need to stack and lift loads.

Hundreds of workers are hospitalized in cities across the UK every year due to reckless forklift driving or insufficient knowledge about workplace safety guidelines. Forklift accidents are serious as they can cause bad injuries and sometimes even cost lives. To ensure your safety as well as the safety of those around you, you need to be well-versed in forklift operating rules.

If you work as a forklift operator, here is a comprehensive guide to forklift operating rules for safe load handling.

1. Get professional forklift training

If you intend to work as a forklift operator, you should look for an RTITB accredited forklift training institute near you and sign up for a professional forklift training course. This will not just be a great career move and help embellish your resume, but will also help you prevent accidents at work.

Forklift training in the UK covers all the important aspects of working as a forklift operator, from safe load handling to safety protocol to how to conduct regular vehicle inspections as well as check for any repairs that might be required.

In a forklift training course, you will be shown tutorials of how to drive a forklift, lift and stack materials, and the differences between various forklift models.

You will need to demonstrate the skill you have acquired in a practical examination and pass a written examination that will quiz you about safe operating procedures. You will receive forklift certification if you successfully pass these tests and qualify as a forklift operator. You will then get registered on the UK’s NORS database and receive a special registration number. This number can be used by both current and future employers to check the NORS database to confirm if their employee has completed their forklift training.

Typically, if you are already employed by a company that wishes for you to learn how to operate a forklift, your employer will pay the fee for the forklift training programme. Many companies prefer that their workers should receive on-site forklift training so that they get to practice forklift driving on actual company premises. So if, for example, your job will require you to drive a forklift on rough terrain, your training will also take place in the very location where you will be doing your regular job.

2. Learn the differences between various forklift models

There isn’t just one standard type of forklift – your company will have to choose which forklift model to purchase depending on the nature of the work that the forklift will need to do.

In order to prevent accidents at work, you need to know how to operate different forklift models. There are a few slight differences in the controls, and you also need to be aware of the maximum load capacity of each vehicle and how far they can reach to lift loads from different heights.

Here are some commonly used forklifts that can be found in warehouses and factories across the United Kingdom.

  • Electric Motor Rider Trucks(these include counterbalanced forklifts and three-wheel electric trucks)
  • Electric Motor Narrow Aisle Trucks
  • Electric Motor Hand Trucks
  • Internal Combustion Engine Trucks with Solid or Cushioned Tires
  • Internal Combustion Engine Trucks with Pneumatic
  • Electrical and Internal Combustion Engine Tractors
  • Rough Terrain Forklift Trucks

3. Check the forklift before you load it

Before you start to load your forklift, conduct a pre-use forklift inspection. You will have learned how to do this during your forklift training.

The purpose of the pre-use forklift inspection is to make sure that the forklift is in proper condition and can be used for the day. You will need to check all the hardware, including the tire pressure the battery fluid, check the forks and seat belt, and check for any leaks or strange noises.

Once you have completed the safety inspection, you may start the engine. After starting the engine, check the forklift’s steering mechanism, brakes, and the forklift’s loading and stacking functions. They should all be working properly. Also, make sure that the vehicle’s gauges, exhaust, horn, and everything else are fully functional.

Finally, your driver’s visibility should also be clear, and you should be able to see everything in your path. Many accidents are caused when drivers do not notice objects or people in their route.

4. Follow these important rules when loading and unloading

When you are loading, and unloading materials with your forklift, follow these rules in order to ensure safe load handling.

  • Make sure that the materials are not damaged or loosely packed. Improperly packed loads may spill over and hurt someone.
  • Make sure you know what your forklift’s maximum loading capacity is and do not exceed it.
  • Always check to make sure that there is enough overhead space before you raise the forks of the vehicle to lift or drop off goods.
  • You should place the forks as far below the load as possible.
  • Always be careful to tilt the load forwards when picking up or unloading it.
  • The load should be stable and placed near the forklift’s load centre when you begin to pick it up.
  • After you have picked up the load, use the forks to tilt it backwards before moving ahead on your route. Tilting it slightly backwards will help stabilize the load.
  • You can use a backrest extension if you need a safeguard to prevent the load from toppling over backwards.

5. Adopt the correct mast position for safe load handling

All forklift operators should lift the load with the mast in a vertical position. Tilting the mast backwards will reduce load’s distance from the forklift and make it easier to transport. Conversely, tilting the mast forwards will increase this distance, and the load will be less stable to carry.

What to look out for when moving the mast
When moving the mast, be careful so as to not cause any tip-overs of the load or drop your load. If the forklift tips over, you can hurt yourself, and the vehicle will also be damaged, perhaps even beyond repair.

Follow these recommended mast practices for safe load handling
Always take great care when you tilt the forklift while handling loads. Only tilt forwards with the forks in an elevated position when you are picking up or setting down a load. When stacking or tiering loads, tilt the vehicle backwards to a safe degree – just enough to stabilize the load.

Be extra careful when handling loads that are close to the forklift’s maximum capacity

  • Tilt the mast backwards and make sure the heaviest side of the load is positioned against the forklift’s carriage.
  • Always drive the vehicle with the mast tilted towards the back to stabilize the load.
  • Slowly tilt the mast forward when you are lifting the load and putting it onto the stack.
  • Never drive the forklift with the load tilting forwards. This will put the load farther away from the forklift and makes it less stable.

Find the Best Forklift Truck Training Programs in West Midlands

A forklift may look easy enough to operate, but it requires special skills to drive one safely. You can learn how to operate a forklift safely as a professional forklift operator by signing up for an RTITB accredited forklift training course in West Midlands or any place near you in the United Kingdom. You will learn all there is to learn about forklift operating rules for safe load handling, how to carry out proper vehicle inspections, and how to drive a forklift on indoor as well as rough outdoor terrain. You can even land a better-paying job because, with forklift certification, you will officially be counted as a skilled worker.

At RS Forklift Training, we are a professional forklift training institute that caters to both companies as well as individual workers who are looking for forklift certification. Given that some 1300 workers suffer from injuries while operating forklifts at work each year, we believe that our forklift training programmes are crucial for all forklift operators to ensure workplace safety standards and minimize forklift accidents.

Our forklift training courses in Birmingham are designed for aspiring forklift operators who need to obtain proper forklift certification, more experienced forklift users who need advanced training, and forklift operators who need to enroll in one-day refresher or re-certification courses to brush up on their forklifting skills and learn about the latest developments in standard safety procedures as well as new operating techniques.

We hold our classes in small groups so that each trainee can receive the attention they need from their forklift instructors. If English is not your native language, we have RTITB proficient forklift instructors from many parts of Europe who will be able to conduct forklift training in your native language in order to facilitate your learning. Plus, our prices are the most affordable in the country, so you don’t have to worry about the exorbitant costs of enrolling in a forklift training programme.

At the RS forklift training centres located in different cities around the United Kingdom, you will find the best forklift training programs that can help you earn exceptional forklift training experience. To register for our forklift training courses, you only have to follow the steps mentioned below:

Contact: Our training process begins when aspiring trainees contact us and provide us with information regarding the type, of course, they want to join. They can also get a tour of the training center. We ensure that trainees understand each aspect of the course, so they are certain whether the course is right for them or not.

Training: Forklift training commences with our highly trained forklift instructors, who impart all kinds of technical knowledge regarding forklifts. They give equal importance to the theoretical and practical aspects of forklift training so that trainees can become experts in no time. We ensure that our training will help increase workplace productivity and decrease losses and accidents.

Certificate: Once you’ve completed the course and become well-versed with all the aspects of forklift training, we will provide you with a nationally recognized and RTITB accredited certificate. This certificate will serve as proof in front of your employers for validating your skills.

Employment: Our job doesn’t stop at training. We also help our trainees get employment opportunities. After you’ve proved yourself to be a valuable asset, we will help you get work through recommendations and references.

We have forklift training centers spread across the West Midlands and towns and counties like Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley, Oldbury, West Bromwich, Stourbridge, Coventry, Telford, Wolverhampton, Shrewsbury, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Cannock, Lichfield, and Tamworth.

If you wish to enroll in an affordable forklift training programme, get in touch with us or visit our website to find out which one of our forklift training courses is right for you.

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