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If you are going to be operating a forklift, it is essential to be well-versed in all aspects of forklift operation. In this article, the team at Angus Lift Trucks will go over the basics, such as technical expertise and the fundamentals of operating a forklift.

In addition, we will discuss the safety regulations, maintenance and upkeep regulations, industrial applications, and what settings you can use for forklifts.

Common Questions about Forklifts

Read our advice below to answer all your forklift questions.

1.   How Can I Acquire a Licence for Operating a Forklift?

In the UK, there are three different kinds of licenses: Counterbalance, Telescopic, and Telehandler. The difference between these is based on the type of forklift you are interested in driving.

If you have not operated a forklift or have limited experience, you will have to learn more quickly over the four to five day period on how to use the forklift and perform well on a supervised test.

However, if you are experienced, you can take a one to three day course, which is less comprehensive but offers the same level of accreditation.

If you know how to drive a forklift and are interested in expanding your skills to drive a different type, it will only take one day to complete a course and become licenced to drive more than one type.

A forklift licence does not expire. However, the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) recommends that employees take the refresher course every three to five years as specific rules and regulations may be updated. For more information on the various types of training and types of forklifts to train on, please visit our forklift training page. And, visit our article for a comprehensive review of getting a forklift license in the UK.

2.   Are Forklifts Allowed on Public Roads?

Because forklifts are not your typical motorized vehicle, you may be wondering where you can operate them. Forklifts can be driven on a typical public road but must comply with the DVLA and be taxed, registered, and insured. In fact, diesel forklifts are only appropriate for outdoor use.

Driving a forklift on an open road requires attention to detail and focus because you must be aware of traffic and pedestrians. In a workplace setting, always be mindful of your fellow employees who are in your vicinity. You will probably need to make sharp turns and manoeuvre narrow surroundings. In either setting, the priority is safety.

3.   How Are Forklifts Powered?

There are three main types of forklifts you can buy or rent: gas, diesel, and electric. Forklifts that run on natural gas are best for outdoor use because of their emissions. They may be used indoors for brief periods if the space is well-ventilated. The gas canisters used for these forklifts are easy to purchase and refuel but require proper storage and handling.

Diesel forklifts are similar to gas forklifts in that both types use simple canisters to refuel. However, diesel is more expensive to purchase. Furthermore, you can’t drive diesel forklifts indoors due to the dangers of emissions.

Electric forklifts are more expensive than diesel or gas-powered forklifts but do not require consistent refueling. Electric forklifts can be used in any indoor setting as they do not produce any emissions.

4.   What Objects Can I Pick Up with a Forklift? What Objects Shouldn’t I Pick Up?

It is advisable to load an object onto a pallet before transporting it with a forklift. However, you can still manoeuvre a variety of things without the use of a pallet. In any case, you must know the weight-bearing capacity of your forklift and the weight of the object you intend to transport.

Forklifts are used in the following industries: transport, construction, manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, and have numerous other specialty uses. An attachment may be helpful to prepare yourself for specific situations better.

For example, you can purchase a side shifter, which permits the forks to turn left and right. Slip sheets are a convenient attachment because, in most cases, they eliminate the need for palettes. The slip sheets are two wide sheets placed on the forks and manoeuvred underneath the load before lifting it off the ground.

5.   Do Forklifts Need to Be Inspected Daily?

You must inspect your forklift each time before using it to find potential mechanical errors. This not only ensures the safety of yourself and other workers, but it is also the law.

It is also required that your forklift is appropriate for the tasks you are using it for (i.e., you are not exceeding weight capacities), is registered and insured, and would pass a thorough examination if subjected to one.

To understand goals and best practices for inspection of a forklift, consult the HSE’s lifting equipment examination guide. In addition, refer to the advice of the vendor when considering how often to service your forklift. If you require information on maintenance, services, or repairs for your forklifts please get in touch or visit our forklift service page. You can also read our article on servicing your forklift.

6.   How Do I Maintain a Forklift?

Any machine with moving parts requires diligent cleaning and care, lest it be subjected to wear and tear from the elements. Using water and oil to clean and lubricate moving parts will ensure a longer lifespan for your forklift and cut down on the annoying costs and delays that occur when small pieces break down.

Washing chains, valves, seals, and other small parts are necessary; however, do not use high-pressure water to clean them as this can cause damage over time. Wipe away excess dirt before washing and dry the forklift by parking it outside. Do not use the forklift if parts are still wet.

7.   What Are the Most Important Do’s and Don’ts for Driving a Forklift?

  • Never raise or lower a load while the forklift is moving, as this can make the forklift very unstable.
  • Never carry a load with one fork.
  • Never add an additional counterweight or ballast to the forklift.
  • Never stack loads on a sloped surface.
  • Always perform a pre-use inspection before operating a forklift. Safety is the top priority, and a pre-use inspection can prevent needless accidents.
  • Always grip the frame and the seat with your hands when entering the forklift, never the steering wheel.
  • Always consult managers and supervisors if you run into problems.

Wrap Up

Now you’ve learned a little about how to operate forklifts, their common codes and regulations, and even some advice, remember to drive carefully. Forklift injuries can and will happen in the face of negligence. We hope these answers were helpful; happy lifting!