Why You Should Never Drive a Forklift with the Mast Raised

You should never drive a forklift with the mast raised. There are several reasons for this. One of the reasons is that you might accidentally impale something simply because you can’t look up and drive at the same time which means your gaze is straight ahead instead of up where the forks are.

Besides that, driving with the mast up drastically changes the center of gravity which puts you at risk of tipping the whole thing over.

Check out this video to see what we’re talking about here.


Is Your Forklift Making Your Employees Sick?

ForkliftGas-powered foklifts consumed propane, gas or diesel and produce, exchange, Carbon Monoxide (CO). Because CO is odorless, colorless and tasteless, it isn’t detectable to you or your workers. What this means is that, if a forklift is running for a long time or left sitting idle in an area, CO can build up without being detected. Pretty soon, your workers might start showing the signs of the flu such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, rapid or labored breathing. If ignored, the employee could pass out and even die.

The severity and rapidity of the onset of these symptoms will depend on the amount of CO present (the concentration). Low levels with prolonged exposure can make your employees sick forward the end of their shift. Several days of this can produce lasting effects.

What to do to protect your employees

  1. Open bay doors often to allow fresh air into the warehouse.
  2. Install CO detectors to notify you when CO levels become elevated.
  3. Instruct your forklift drivers to turn off the forklift when it isn’t being used. Do not allow them to let them idle (all to often, they think that they are just going to hop off and hop right back on when they get absorbed in something or get called away and forget that the forklift is running).
  4. Use electric forklifts when possible in areas where CO might accumulate.
  5. Install and run exhaust fans.
  6. Keep forklift use to a minimum. Instruct warehouse personnel to use hand trucks instead of forklifts whenever possible.
  7. Make sure the gas-powered forklifts are tuned properly and on a regular basis to reduce the amount of CO they produce.

Being aware of the potential dangers of CO emissions in enclosed areas is an important step in helping avoid problems. Do a quick assessment of the areas where your forklifts run and determine a course of action to make sure your workers have no problem with CO poisoning.

Unsafe Actions – The Deadly Dozen # 10

10. Riding equipment not designed for passengers.

This may sound like a no-brainer but the problem is often that people often don’t use their brains, especially when it comes to safety. What we are talking about here is riding on the forks of the forklift, riding or “surfing” the conveyor belts, “scootering” with the pallet jack (have a look at this YouTube video to see what I mean and what can happen when you do it) or hopping a ride to the back of a vehicle. All of these are unsafe.

Just because the forklift is heading to the back of the warehouse and you need to go that way as well, does not justify grabbing on and hitching a ride.

The Fix

The fix for today’s unsafe action is quite simple. Identify when and where workers are intended to be on equipment and allow zero-tolerance for anyone riding, slidding, surfing, scooting along or in any other way using equipment to propel or carry them.

Does that mean, for example that you can’t use the forks of a forklift to raise someone up to change the lightbulbs in the warehouse? Not at all! What it does mean, however, is that if you are going to use the forklift to raise and lower personnel, you need to make sure you first properly install the forklift basket that is designed to make sure that the worker is protected.

An added benefit of this zero tolerance towards riding equipment is the increased exercise everyone gets from walking instead of riding. J

The Basics of Forklift Safety (Part 6)

Establishing a basic traffic management safety plan

Pedestrians and forklifts don’t mix. Management needs to understand this basic principle and plan accordingly. It’s the reason that we have streets with sidewalks, stop lights and crosswalks.

The way that a warehouse is set up should be as clear as the rules governing street traffic are. Forklift drivers should no more drive in pedestrian lanes than a truck driver would drive on the sidewalk.

Rights of way, stop signs, yield signs, etc… also need to be instituted in order to avoid accidents, not only between pedestrians and forklifts but also between forklifts.

Here are some basic principles:

  • Clearly outline and delineate pedestrian paths for pedestrians only. Forklifts are not allowed in pedestrian zones.
  • Put up barriers to separate the pedestrians from the forklifts.
  • Clearly mark crosswalks where pedestrian paths will have to cross forklift areas
  • Clearly define who has the right of way in each area where pedestrians and forklifts are forced to interact.
  • Post signs to make clear what the speed limit is, who has the right of way, where blind spots are, etc…
  • Hang mirrors in areas where visibility is limited. There are all kinds of mirrors to cover all kinds of situations (see our the Se-Kure Mirror section of our website for more details on the different types of mirrors available)
  • Make sure that safety lights, back-up alarms and warning devices (horns, lights, etc…) are in working order
  • If pedestrians are not simply passing through (office personnel coming and going for example) but actually have to work in the same environment as the forklifts for most of the work day, make sure that pedestrians are wearing reflective safety vests.
  • Make sure that forklifts have high-visibility markings on them as well (conspicuity tape, for example).


The bottom line is that forklifts have the potential to do a lot of damage, both to equipment and to people. Because they have that potential however, doesn’t mean that they are necessarily dangerous. If precautions and safety measures are taken, pedestrians and forklifts can both well together without harm.

This can only happen with proper study and analysis that results in actions taken to make sure that both are well protected. Do it today, don’t wait until someone has been hurt or worse before the safety measures are put in place.