Forklifts or Fork Trucks: What are they?

Forklift Safety TruckForklifts or lift trucks are used by numerous industries. Moving materials, raising, lowering and removing large or small objects held in storage containers (boxes, crates, bins or other container types) on pallets from one location to another is the primary use. There are two types of PIT driving operations, the operator either rides or walks behind (a.k.a. walkie) the unit while controlling the forklift. These are not to be confused with modified earth-moving equipment or over-the-road haulage trucks that have modifications to accommodate forks.

Hazards Associated with Lift Truck Operation

Forklift Safety CautionEach type of lift truck comes with its own operating        hazards. An important fact to remember, it is against Federal law for any person under the age of 18 years old to operate a forklift of any type. Federal law mandates, anyone operating a forklift (18 years of age or older) must be a properly trained and certified operator. The sit-down rider forklift is a counterbalanced high-lift able to lift a high load. This poses a danger of a falling load. Whereas the motorized walk behind motorized forklift, a.k.a. hand truck is limited to the load height it can safely move at one time. The danger of a falling load is lower than the sit-down rider.

Other important safety hazard factors to be considered are the type of workplace environment and surrounding conditions. Maintaining customer safety for a retail store due to congested floor layouts is often a greater challenge than other workplace environments with extra isle space to ensure a person’s safety.

Additional safety hazards can include, but not limited to:

  • An elevated pallet falls on top of a work when on the tines (forks).
  • A lift truck strikes a worker.
  • A worker drives the lift off the loading dock.
  • A lift falls between loading docks.
  • A lift falls due to an unsecured trailer.

Reducing Hazards Related to Powered Industrial Trucks

To determine the best company practices to prevent accidents and protect workers against injury, the worksite and type of forklift need to be considered. First and foremost, the operator must be properly trained and certified to operate the powered industrial truck accurately and safely. The 29 CFR 1910.178(l)(1) outlines the level of training and evaluation required to successfully become certified.

Forklift Inspection Checklists

EMC Insurance Companies

Forklift Safety & Training Videos

Forklift Safety

State Compensation Insurance Fund

Forklift Training


Linde Material Handling

IVES Training Group

A-1 Forklift Training Certification (Training Facility)

Forklift Accidents

Top Forklift Safety Accessories

There are multiple types of forklifts, all with their own unique features. Whether it’s an electric motor or internal combustion engine gas/LPG/diesel powered industrial truck being used, well planned and structured training to become a certified operator is imperative to the operator’s safety, those around them and the company.


Research conducted and provided to IWLA by Ms. Martin,  Kenneth, and the Learning Haven Students.

Great job Kenneth keep up the good work!


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