1,595,758 forklift operators are currently employed in the United States, and the field is still booming. 

Operating a forklift can be both an exciting skill to acquire and a valuable asset in various industries. Whether you’re interested in pursuing a career in warehousing, construction, or any field that involves heavy lifting and material handling, learning how to drive a forklift is essential.

This short guide will help you embark on your journey to learning how to drive a forklift.

Understand the Basics

A forklift, also known as a lift truck or a forklift truck, is a powerful machine designed for lifting and transporting heavy loads.

It consists of three main components: the truck itself, the load-carrying fork, and the counterweight at the rear to balance the load. Familiarize yourself with these components and their functions.

Legal Requirements and Certification

Most countries have strict regulations regarding safe operation, including mandatory certification. Before you start your training, check your local regulations to ensure you’re compliant.

In the United States, for example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires forklift driving certification. Seek out a certified forklift training program in your area to receive proper training and certification.

Choose the Right Training Program

Look for programs that are accredited, comprehensive, and taught by experienced instructors.

These programs typically consist of both classroom instruction and hands-on training. The classroom portion covers safety protocols, forklift components, and basic principles. The hands-on training allows you to practice driving and operating the forklift under supervision.

Safety First

Always wear the required personal protective equipment (PPE), including a hard hat, safety shoes, and high-visibility clothing.

Follow the safety guidelines and procedures you’ve learned during your training. Pay attention to load capacities, maintain a clear line of sight, and use horn signals to communicate with others in the workplace.

Master the Controls

The forklift’s controls may seem intimidating at first. But with practice, you can become proficient.

Learn how to:

  • Start and stop the forklift
  • Control its direction, raise
  • Lower the forks and tilt the mast

These controls are essential for maneuvering the forklift and safely handling loads.

Load Handling Skills

To become a skilled operator, practice picking up and placing loads with precision.

Learn how to:

  • Position the forks correctly
  • Ensure the load is stable
  • Drive at an appropriate speed while carrying a load

Be aware of the load’s center of gravity and any potential hazards in your path.

Understand Maintenance

Learn how to check the forklift for safety issues, perform routine inspections, and understand when to report problems to forklift maintenance personnel. Proper maintenance not only ensures safety but also extends the life of the forklift.

Learning How to Drive a Forklift Is Lucrative

There are hundreds of companies out there searching for forklift drivers, so if you want a career that pays well and ensures your future, learning how to drive a forklift is it. 

Looking to purchase high-quality forklifts? Superior Industrial Products has a variety of industrial equipment for sale for all kinds of businesses. Check out our online catalog of items or contact us to learn more about forklift training for your operators.