Forklift Safety – Pre-Operational Inspection


One of the most important requirements for forklift inspection is that operators must have been properly trained and assessed in accordance with OSHA standards. The Operational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that 100 workers are killed in forklift accidents each year. An additional 95,000 forklift accidents happen annually. These accidents can often be avoided. Safety is a top priority in our manufacturing processes. However, pedestrians and operators must follow safety protocols to ensure their safety.

There are four main stages to forklift inspection:

  • Pre-operational Inspection
  • Operational inspection
  • Removing from service
  • Maintenance

This post will detail the forklift inspection requirements for each phase. Safety managers, forklift operators, and facility heads should refer to OSHA standard 1910.178.

The Importance of Inspection

Injuries and deaths can also be caused by equipment failure. This is beyond the effect of behavioural causation. Employees who fail to properly inspect and evaluate equipment before it is used can cause serious injuries and even fatalities. Although safety regulators, forklift manufacturers, as well as many companies, encourage forklifts to be inspected before they are used, these inspections are often overlooked or poorly documented. Safety is an obvious reason that these inspections should be conducted regularly, and so is compliance–thousands of dollars in fines could be levied based on failure to determine forklift safety prior to operation. Our forklift training courses Mississauga cover all the important topics the safe operations and maintenance of forklifts.

Pre-operational Inspection

Before the forklift can be started, it should be inspected at least once daily. Forklifts that work 24×7 must have an inspection performed after each shift. The key can be turned off to perform the pre-operational inspection visually.

  • First, the inspector must check the levels of oil, water, and hydraulic fluids.
  • Connectors and cables for exposed or frayed wires
  • Also, be aware of any cracks or visible defects in hydraulic lines or tension in the mast chain.
  • Then inspect the tire condition and pressure. Also, look out for any cuts or gouges.
  • Next, check the fork condition, including the heel and top clip retention pin.
  • Next, inspect the load backrest extension to make sure finger guards have been attached.

Check that safety signs and nameplates remain in place. They should be easily legible from afar. Match the nameplate information with the serial numbers, model, and attachments. These No Riding Contact Labels and 3 Point Contact Labels are recommended for powered industrial trucks.

  • Also, make sure the operator manual is visible and legible.
  • Check for grease and other debris in the operator compartment.
  • Make sure that safety devices such as the seat belt are in good working order.

Every type of forklift has its own unique characteristics, so the checklists should be customized to suit each one. Here are some special forklifts with additional items that should be checked during the inspection.

For Electric Forklifts:

  • Battery restraints
  • Electrolyte levels
  • Hood latch

For Internal Combustion Forklifts:

  • Oil for engines
  • Brake reservoir
  • Engine coolant
  • Air filter
  • Belts and hoses
  • Radiator
  • Hood latch

For Liquid Propane Forklifts:

  • Properly mounted tank
  • Pointing up on the pressure relief valve
  • Connectors and hose
  • Tank restraint brackets
  • Tank for cracks and dents
  • The tank can fit in the truck’s profile
  • Leaks

If a forklift is damaged, unsafe or in need of repair, it should be removed from service immediately.

Operational Inspection

After performing a pre-operational inspection, operators can start the engine and perform an operational inspection. It is important to note that any unusual vibrations or noises coming from the forklift should be reported immediately.

During the operation inspection, these things should be checked to ensure safety.

  • Verify that the accelerator and direction control pedal is working well.
  • If equipped, check Inch control.
  • Both parking brakes and service should be seamless.
  • Steering should work smoothly.
  • For smooth operation, you should check the forward and reverse of the drive control.
  • Tilt control: Forward and Back should be checked to ensure smooth operation.
  • Lift and lowering control should work smoothly.
  • Attachment Control: Check its operation.
  • Check the operation of lights and horns.
  • If equipped, functions of the heater, defroster, and wipers in the cab
  • Gauges – Functioning of Ammeter and engine oil pressure, fuel level, temperature, as well as instrument monitors.
  • If an alarm is equipped, it should be checked.
  • Hour Meter operation.
  • The Battery Discharge Indicator must be working.

Following are a few more things that you should pay attention to:

Mechanical breakdown: If your forklift is unsafe or has defects, you should take it out of service.

Fire: If the exhaust system emits dangerous sparks or flames, the forklift should not be used until it is repaired.

Heat: If the temperature in any forklift part rises beyond normal, it should be taken out of service.

Fuel system leakage: No forklift should be operated with fuel system leakage.

Electric Forklifts Preoperative Checklist:

These are some things you should check on your electric lifts.

  • Cables and connectors are free from fraying or exposed wires
  • Functional battery restraints can be used
  • The proper levels of electrolytes are
  • The hood latch works as intended

Pre-operation Checklist:

These are some things to check on your internal combustion cushion or pneumatic forklifts.

  • The proper levels of engine oil and engine coolant are maintained
  • Clean and in good condition, air filters
  • The radiator has no cracks or other defects
  • The hood latch works as intended

Reach Trucks Preoperative Checklist and Order Pickers Prior-operations List:

These are some things you should check on your reach truck or order pickers.

  • Both on-truck and off-track charger work
  • There is no damage to the backrest or forks.
  • Effective brake pedal
  • There are no leaks to be found


For forklift safety, it is important to maintain your forklifts.

  • Keep forklifts clean and free from grease, oil, and lint.
  • Clean trucks with non-combustible substances
  • Solvents with a high flash point (at least 100deg F) may be used. Avoid low flash point solvents (below 100deg F).
  • Follow the recommended precautions for toxicity, ventilation, and fire hazards.
  • Repair problems must be reported immediately to the supervisor.
  • Preventive maintenance should only be done according to the manufacturer’s recommendations

Looking for the best forklift safety training in Mississauga? Contact our forklift training provider Mississauga today and begin your career as a forklift operator.


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