How to Use a Forklift

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Forklifts are large vehicles that are powered to lift and transport heavy loads and material. They are used every day in our society, whether it's at an airport, a building supply company or in a warehouse. It's very important to use a forklift carefully and to be fully aware of your surroundings. Forklifts can be powered by gasoline, diesel, batteries and propane. Standard forklifts are found in most commercial settings and are fairly easy to use.

  • Turn the key to power up the forklift. Get familiar with the levers to the right of the steering wheel (see Step 2). These are what you will use to move an object from one location to another and to maneuver the object where it needs to be placed.

  • Move the forks up and down by using the first lever. To move the fork up, pull the lever towards you. To move the fork down, push the lever away from your body. Unless you are unloading or loading an object, forks should be kept close to the ground.

  • Practice using the other two levers before picking up a load. The second lever tilts the forks backwards and forwards. To tilt the forks back, pull the lever towards you. To tilt it forwards, push the lever away from your body. The forks can tilt between 15 and 30 degrees.

  • Use the third lever to control the movement of the forks from left to right. They can move between 6 inches to 12 inches, side to side. The levers move in the obvious direction of where you want the forks placed.

  • Approach the load you want to pick up. Push the first lever away from you to lower the forks. Drive forward slowly until the forks slide underneath the load. Lift the load slightly by pulling the lever towards you. Be sure to tilt the forks backwards slightly if the load is top-heavy.

  • Drive around corners slowly and honk the horn on the steering wheel to alert others of the approaching forklift. Slowly approach the area where you will be unloading and use the levers to maneuver the load to the final destination. Once this is complete, put the gear in reverse and back up slowly.

  • Stop the forklift just as you do with a car. Slowly press on the brake, which is located to the left of the accelerator. Shift the gear into "park." Check once more that the forks are lowered to the ground before turning the key to "Off."

Tips & Warnings

  • *Always wear a hard hat when using a forklift. *Educate yourself on the maximum load that the forklift is able to carry by reading the owner's manual.

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References

  • Photo Credit http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Yale_1926.jpg
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