Are you ready for your forklift test?
If you have even a shred of wisdom, you will answer “No!” Forklifts don’t require hours and hours of reading. In fact, you can take a class today and be driving tomorrow.
But it took time to get comfortable driving a car. If you want to learn comfort and confidence in a forklift it will take practice.
Read on to find out what you need to know for your forklift test. Even if you aren’t interested in the test prep, keep reading and learn how to act around forklifts.
It’s All About You
Prevention is Key
The first thing to know about forklifts requires taking a good look at the person in your mirror. You are the number one safety feature on your forklift. Prevent accidents by remembering that they will be your responsibility.
For your forklift test, you will need to know to check your mirrors and use the horn. You have to be aware of your surroundings and your speed. You will also monitor foot traffic and load position.
Everything requires your full attention. One distraction can ruin a box of materials, or injure a person for life.
Safety Safety Safety
Forklifts are very heavy and carry an incredible amount of energy. Plus, should you impact anything, all the energy is transferred into two tiny points capable of skewering man and machine alike.
Safety is the most important aspect of forklift test prep. You are the first and last piece of safety equipment on your forklift.
General Knowledge for Your Forklift Test
It is part of your job to complete an inspection of a forklift before every shift and make a report of what you found. You must fill out the checklist! If you find problems with your forklift, get a supervisor.
Don’t know where the checklist is? You will need to ask a supervisor or print one from OSHA. If they don’t have one, don’t operate your forklift.
OSHA requires operators to get a certification. Also, you must be over 18 to take a forklift test and get certified.
Use the Horn
Next, let’s take a look at a few specifics you will be expected to know for your test.
OSHA requires you to use the horn. Use it when approaching corners, blind spots, and doorways. Honk near entrances, exits, before backing up, and when you see pedestrians.
Another time to use the horn is if you are approaching solid doors that open right into your path. Pedestrians on the other side cannot see you and may come barging thru without looking.
Use the horn liberally and often. If you fail to use your horn at proper times during your forklift test, you won’t pass.
Safety Belts and Other Concerns
You definitely won’t pass if you don’t use your safety belt. Never operate a forklift without your safety belt fastened. It doesn’t matter if you will only drive ten feet and then get out again, fasten your safety belt.
Entering and Exiting
Specific procedures exist for getting on and getting off. You must demonstrate these correctly to pass your forklift test.
When entering always have three points of contact. Never grab the steering wheel as a point of contact. Once you are seated, fasten your safety belt and then turn on the engine.
When exiting, park in a safe area out of traffic. Then, lower the forks until they are flat and put the truck in neutral. Once you set the parking brake, turn off the engine. Then you can remove your safety belt and exit.
Specific Knowledge and Concerns
Now, let’s take a look at the make of a forklift, and how to drive and pick up loads. Also, know what to do if the forklift tips over.
Your forklift test may include general knowledge of the truck. It has three main parts, the body, the overhead guard and the hydraulic lift. The mast and forks attach to the lift.
Within the truck, you will find a steering wheel, controls to raise/lower and tilt back/forth, and at least a brake and gas pedal. Sometimes there will also be a clutch and a control to move the forks side-to-side or in and out.
Driving a Forklift
Never give someone a ride on the forks. And don’t let them sit anywhere on the truck while you drive.
When traveling with a load on a flat surface, there is usually no need to raise it greater than 8 inches. After raising it slightly, tilt the forks back to place the load in the most stable position.
To pass your forklift test, keep loads to the uphill side of all slopes. This is a rule almost every driver will forget exactly once. On that occasion, they will probably drop everything off the front of their forks.
Weights and Loads
When picking up a load, you want the heavy end as close to the mast as possible. You should keep the weight balanced side to side. If you overload the forks, your back wheels will rise up off the ground.
Be mindful of wider and longer loads. They are naturally less stable. Decrease your speed and increase your awareness.
As stated earlier, forklifts are very heavy, on the low end they weigh in at 8000 pounds. Usually, your load capacity is about half of your weight. Always check the data plate to make sure you know what the limit is exactly.
Forklift Tipping Over
An important part of the forklift test is knowing what to do when it tips. You should grip the steering wheel and brace yourself. Then firmly plant your feet and lean away from the tipping direction.
NEVER ever try to jump out of a falling forklift!
Time to Go Ace Your Test
You now have much of the information you need to pass your forklift test and be a competent driver.
Remember the key points of safety. Which means awareness of others, your surroundings, and your forklift. Use your horn often and know where to find the data plate.
As a final note, many well-paying jobs exist for competent forklift drivers. Get your forklift certification here and start earning a better wage with this specialized skill.