Rules on Driving a Forklift

Updated February 21, 2017

Forklifts move heavy items in warehouses, on construction sites and in industrial parks. Forklift safety involves the proper operation of the vehicle, and an understanding of how to load the cargo correctly on the forks. The rules on driving a forklift are for the safety of the operator and the safety of everyone in the facility. By following the proper methods for driving a forklift, you can help to prevent injuries and make sure there are no man-hours lost to company production.


If your forklift has no place to carry a passenger, do not pick up anyone on your way from one end of the warehouse to the other. The extra weight can make the forklift unstable, and with a person in your field of view that should not be there you are more likely to have an accident.

Load Weight

Every forklift has a designated load capacity that you should not exceed. Placing more weight on a forklift than its design intended can make the vehicle difficult to handle and it could cause it to tip.


Stop the forklift at least 1 to 2 feet short of your actual destination. Because you carry weight on the front, the vehicle will have added momentum. Stopping prior to your destination allows you to take your time lining up the forks up with where your cargo needs to go. This includes lining up the forks under a load to pick it up. Stop 1 foot short of the load, and then ease the forks under the cargo.

Backing Up

Never back up in a forklift without looking. Do not assume the path behind you is clear.

Larger Loads

If the load you are carrying restricts your view out the front of the forklift, drive it backward so you can see where you are going.

Approaching Cargo

Never approach cargo at an angle. Always square the forklift with the load, and then approach the load in a straight line.

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About the Author

George N. Root III began writing professionally in 1985. His publishing credits include a weekly column in the "Lockport Union Sun and Journal" along with the "Spectrum," the "Niagara Falls Gazette," "Tonawanda News," "Watertown Daily News" and the "Buffalo News." Root has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the State University of New York, Buffalo.