To operate a forklift, you need to be certified. To obtain certification, you need to be trained and actually operate a forklift. The points below are intended as a refresher for those who are already certified, and as an introduction to those intending to be certified.
• It is the weight of the forklift and the position of the tires that keep a forklift from turning over. There is an imaginary triangle between the front two tires and the space between the back two tires. This is called the stability triangle. The center of gravity for the forklift lies within this triangle. As the forks with weight extend out, the center of gravity moves. If the center of gravity goes outside the stability triangle, the forklift will tip. Getting the feel for the location of the center of gravity and the stability triangle is important to safe operation before you start working with a forklift. A good way to start is to lift a load of lumber and
extend it out next to the ground until the back wheels start to come off the ground.
The center of gravity is also changed when the forklift is on sloped ground. The situation is exaggerated greatly if there is a load on the forks and they are extended. (See “Forklift Center of Gravity" illustrations.)
If you are using a forklift and it starts to tip over, stay in the seat; do not jump out of the forklift.
Before you operate any machine, be sure you are familiar with all the controls.
Before you operate the forklift, do an inspection. Walk around the forklift checking for anything that does not look right, such as leaking fluids. Then get in the cab, start the engine, and check the gages and other controls.
Never leave the forklift while the engine is running.
Know the forklift hand signals. (See “Forklift Hand Signals" illustration.)
When working with a crane or boom truck, the most important thing for a framer is to have good communication with the operator. Because you are typically out of audible range, you will need to use hand signals. You should use the industry-accepted standards shown in the “Crane and Boom Truck Hand Signals" illustration.