Winter Forklift Safety Tips

Winter Forklift Safety Tips

Hopefully, your car is fully prepared for winter—What about your forklift?

Winter in Canada can be a beautiful thing, fresh layers of glistening white snow coating trees and a shiny layer of frost on the grass…But as Canadian’s we know it’s not always quite that glamorous. Canadian winters require a lot of planning and preparation – It means it’s time to dig the shovels out from the back of the shed, making sure the winter tires get on the car in time and pull the winter coat from the back of the closet.

As good as Canadians have come to be at preparing for winter, there are some things that still may fall through the cracks. You may not realize the extra safety precautions that need to be taken when operating a forklift in the winter.

Read on to learn how to stay safe while operating a forklift this winter!

Prepare Your Forklift for Winter

Forklift operators should give their forklift a detailed inspection to minimize the chance of experiencing a forklift breakdown and getting stuck in the middle of an aggressive winter storm. Getting a tuneup ahead of winter is always recommended. And of course, as always ensure you are up to date on all of your scheduled service visits and inspections. Things to ensure are in tip-top shape before braving the winter months are:

  • Tires: Check tires for proper air pressure (for pneumatic tires) and to ensure that there is sufficient depth on your treads (needed for both solid and air-filled tires). For forklifts operating in snow or ice specialized forklift chains can be installed to provide extra grip
  • Lights: Winter doesn’t just bring cold weather, it also means darker days – So ensuring your lights are in working order is something you may not think of, but is especially important. Tip – If your forklift uses halogen lighting it may be a good time to consider upgrading to LED, which lasts longer, shines brighter and is not affected by freezing temperatures or the vibrations created by your forklift during operation!
  • Hydraulics: Frigid winter temperatures can cause joints to stiffen up so ensure all of your moving parts are well-lubricated.
  • Cabs: If your forklift has an enclosed cab and windshield (recommended for winter conditions), be sure the heater and windshield wipers are working correctly and that all latches are lubricated.
  • Cooling System: It is important to ensure there is the correct amount of anti-freeze used in the coolant system. Anti-freeze ensures that the engine will not freeze solid and block the coolant system, which can lead to a number of problems including dangerous overheating.

It’s also important to remember to allow your forklift to warm up before using it. Everyone knows you’re supposed to let your car warm up during cold weather, a forklift is no different! Allowing it to warm up lessens the chance of combustion and transmission-related problems occurring.

Ensure Forklift Operators are Appropriately Clothed

Pre-winter planning is not limited to the equipment itself, especially for work that takes place outdoors. It’s important to make sure operators are equipped to do the job under more challenging conditions. Clothing needs to be able to protect operators from snow, ice, wet and slippery conditions, cold or strong winds and limited visibility.

To protect the most vulnerable areas of the body against frostbite (i.e., the ears, nose, fingers, and toes) operators need to wear appropriate protective gear including a warm hat, gloves, face mask, and water-proof boots while operating a forklift (or during most work, for that matter!) Layers are the key here, so pairing these items with wind-proof, water-resistant and high visibility outerwear, is the best way to tackle the cold and wet conditions found throughout the winter months.

Always keep in mind typical year-round PPE such as protective eyewear, hard hats, steel-toe boots or safety gloves and ensure bundling up isn’t inhibiting your ability to wear those things. You may need to purchase specialized PPE meant to keep you safe & warm at the same time like NORTH OF 49° gloves.

north of 49 work gloves ppe hand protection safety

Operator Training and Education

Beyond supplying the proper equipment to your employees, it’s essential to educate your operators with the fundamental knowledge and practical skills of operating a forklift. The Hercules SLR Training Academy can deliver this training (and more!) at The Hercules Training Academy or it can also be delivered on-site. The content covers:

  • Regulations
  • Hazard assessment
  • Pre-use inspections
  • Equipment stability
  • Operating principles
  • Refueling
  • Battery care

When it comes to managing the additional challenges posed by the winter weather, these steps can help navigate you through your shift ensuring you’re keeping the most important elements in mind:

Before Your Shift

  • Conduct a proper pre-operation inspection of the forklift. Record and report any issues.
  • Check the weather outside and make sure to adjust driving habits to current weather conditions.
  • Install and check all winter items – Including weatherized PPE and things like tire chains if needed on your forklift.
  • Avoid cold starts by allowing the forklift to properly warm-up before operating.

During Your Shift

  • Only travel as fast as the weather conditions permit – Slow down if needed and drive carefully.
  • Remove any accumulation of snow on windscreens, lights, etc. to maintain proper visibility.
  • Be sure to stop working if conditions deteriorate such as: slippery driving conditions (don’t let this be you!), limited visibility, etc. – Safety first! 
  • Try to avoid short run times (less than 30 minutes) as forklift engines tend to run a richer fuel mixture during the first 20 minutes of operation. This means it is possible for water vapor to accumulate in the engine oil and exhaust system in the cold, as evaporation isn’t possible. Try to plan your day so you can do multiple forklift tasks at once instead of scattered throughout the day.

After Your Shift

  • Clean the forklift – Remove all snow, dirt, and salt in order to prevent rust and corrosion.
  • Make sure to plug in the forklift’s block and/or battery heater to avoid issues at the start of the next shift.
  • Park the forklift in a warm and dry place in between uses to avoid issues related to ice formation.

Click here to view the Forklift Safety Training course overview.

Through our Hercules Training Academy, we offer an extensive suite of high-quality safety training and certification courses. Brand new classrooms and specialized training equipment enable us to provide an even higher quality of service than ever before when it comes to safety training.

Whether you’re looking for initial or refresher training, we provide practical, hands-on courses designed to exceed the minimum safety requirements.

Our courses can be customized to fit your workplace’s specific needs. We are always willing to design a course (or multiple courses) specifically for you!

If you’re interested in building a customized training program, please get in touch. One of our training representatives would be happy to help you get started.



Forklift Driving | Training Tuesday

forklift operator driving in warehouse


Forklift driving takes a lot more than just lifting and moving materials – Forklift operators should have an understanding of safety & balance, to keep materials, themselves and others safe. One of the biggest risks forklift drivers face is tipping-over. According to OSHA, approximately 25% of forklift fatalities were from tip-over incidents. 

Yes, it might seem basic, but it’s important to recognize the forklift’s centre of gravity and stability triangle. In this blog, we’ll discuss tips to keep you balanced and everything else you need to know to stay safe in, out and around the forklift.

This Training Tuesday, we’ll cover:

  • Some of the biggest safety risks associated with balance and the most common type of forklift
  • Forklift centre of gravity & the stability triangle
  • Other factors that contribute to forklift accidents and tip-overs 
  • How to conduct visual & operational forklift inspections 
  • Safety tips to remain balanced & safe while driving a forklift

There are four main potential safety risks considering balance and forklift driving. These are:

  1. How likely the forklift is to tip-over forward;
  2. How likely the forklift is to tip-over on its side;
  3. Maximum braking-level (or stopping distance) the forklift can perform;
  4. Maximum level of reversed-acceleration the forklift can perform. 

In Canada, counter-balanced forklifts are one of the most often-seen types of forklift. 



As we mentioned earlier, a counterbalance forklift has three ways it can tip—forward, or sideways, on the left or right

While driving a forklift, it’s important to maintain its centre of gravity. The centre of gravity lives within the stability triangle

Centre of gravity is defined as the point within the triangle where the bulk of the mass is located. Although we don’t recommend trying it out, the centre of gravity is also the point where the forklift could balance. Again—Take don’t try this one out, we recommend taking our word for it. 

Calculating the forklifts’ centre of gravity is complex (and unnecessary for daily use), but there are a few important things to understand in order to remain balanced as you operate the forklift. 

When the forklift is stationary, it won’t tip as the force is on the centre, but tilts forward when force is applied to the front tines (also called forks) or its back. It’s also worth noting that a forklift is more likely to tip sideways, than forwards. Therefore, adding a load to the front forks decreases the chance the forklift will tip on its side.   

Alternatively, lifting the forks on the truck with a load will cause the forklifts stability to decrease on all sides.

The diagram below shows the stability triangle. 

forklift driving stability triangle diagram












Like we mentioned, some types of loads are more likely to cause your forklift to tip. Here are some features of a load that create hazards: 

  • Awkwardly stacked or piled in a way that causes instability
  • Unmaintained pallets 
  • Load is too heavy or blocks the operators vision 

Here are some of the features of a forklift that contribute to forklift accidents, like tip-overs:

  • Faulty steering, brakes, clutch, transmission or mast assembly 
  • Inadequate or malfunctioning safety devices
  • Forklift emissions
  • Poorly organized controls and displays on the forklift 


To help maintain centre of gravity, here are a few tips to help you stay stable while operating a forklift with a load: 

  • Don’t distribute load unevenly on the forks, this will increase the frequency of sideways tip-over 
  • Don’t load the forklift beyond its WLL, this will make the forklift prone to tipping 
  • Be sure to move the load all the way to the back of the forks 

What are some risk factors of work design that contribute to forklift accidents?:

  • Stress or increased speed 
  • Not using the correct tools, attachments and/or hardware 
  • Incompetent operator, or improper forklift assigned
  • Badly serviced, unmaintained and/or aging forklift(s)
  • Lack of training for workers/operators 
  • Poor work layout for travel

Here are some risk factors while operating the forklift that contribute to accidents: 

  • Driving at high speeds
  • Driving with an elevated load 
  • Improper parking, reversal, turning, braking or acceleration with forklift  
  • Poor communication and/or warnings for nearby personnel
  • Blocking wheels on semi-trailers of railway car improperly 

If you’re operating a forklift, you should never

  • Drive a forklift without any capacity ratings listed
  • Travel in a forklift with a load raised more than 4inches 
  • Leave truck alone while running, or with a load 
  • Let unauthorized personnel operate a forklift (We’ve all seen the episode of The Office where Michael operates the forklift? Okay, good.) 
  • Attempt to adjust the load from the operating cab
  • Raise a load extending over the load backrest, unless no part of the load can slide back toward the operator 
  • Use pallets with forks as a make-shift elevated work platform (it’s more common than you think!) 
  • Let personnel stand/walk under any elevated part of the forklift 

It’s important to communicate potential hazards for everyone working in a space where forklifts are found, and use proper signals to keep yourself and others safe. Here are some more tips to help keep others safe while driving a forklift: 

  • Restrict access to areas where forklifts are used (and create procedures to keep work safe when they must enter spaces where forklifts operate) 
  • OR, create designated walkways or travelling paths to separate pedestrians from forklifts 
  • Pedestrians should always let the forklift driver know when they’re in the area—Eye contact is a simple way to make your presence know
  • Keep the area, particular the travelling path free from obstacles and ensure it’s well-lit 
  • Be careful when driving around sharp/blind corners, doorways and narrow aisles. Honk your forklift horn at intersections.
  •  Wear hi-vis clothing & PPE
  • Load the forks so your line of vision is clear
  • Avoid driving the forklift near people-heavy areas
  • Don’t walk under or near forks


A forklift operator should inspect their forklift daily, at the beginning of each shift and before each use. 

The operator should do a visual circle-check of the forklift (a walk-around) and an operational pre-use check. What do these involve?  

During a visual inspection before use, the operator should: 

  • General condition/cleanliness (this includes the forklift and surrounding floor & overhead work areas)
  • Ensure a charged fire extinguisher is nearby 
  • Make sure engine oil, fuel and radiator fluid levels are correct 
  • Establish that the propane tank’s fuel-tank mounting system, fuel-tank position pin, propane relief valves and hose are in good condition
  • Make sure the battery is fully-charged, there are no exposed wires, plug connections are in good condition, vent caps are clear, electrolyte levels in cells are acceptable and are in-place with hold-downs or brackets 
  • See that bolts, nuts, guards, chains or hydraulic hose reels are not damaged, disconnected or missing
  • Check for wear, damage and air-pressure (pneumatic tires) in wheels & tires 
  • Ensure forks/tines are not bent or chipped and are level & properly positioned—Also check that positioning latches and carriage teeth aren’t broken or worn 
  • Make sure chain anchor pins aren’t worn, loose or bent 
  • Make sure there are no fluid leaks, damp spots or drips 
  • Ensure hoses are secured and not loose, crimped or worn
  • Check for grease & debris in operator compartment
  • Make sure the seatbelt fastens & works properly
  • Guards: Ensure guards, overhead guards and roll-over protection structure (ROPS) are secure & undamaged 

During a pre-operational inspection, the forklift operator should check: 

  • FOOT & PARKING BRAKE: Ensure pedal holds & unit stops smoothly, and brake holds against slight acceleration
  • DEADMAN SEAT BRAKE: Make sure it holds when operator rises from seat
  • CLUTCH & GEARSHIFT: Make sure they shift smoothly, and don’t jump or snag
  • DASH CONTROL PANEL: Check that all lights & gauges are operational
  • HORN: Make sure the horn sounds loudly enough to be heard over work
  • BACK-UP: Make sure the reverse alarm and other warning devices work properly
  • LIGHTS: Ensure headlights and warning lights function properly
  • STEERING: Make sure the steering-wheel works smoothly
  • LIFT MECHANISM: Make sure they operate smoothly—You can check by lifting forks to their maximum height, then lowering them completely
  • TILT MECHANISM: Make sure the tilt mechanism works properly & holds the load—You can check by tilting the mast forward and backwards completely. 
  • CYLINDERS & HOSES: Check these last and make sure they’re not leaking after doing these checks.


There are many work-related issues that contribute to forklift driving, safety & general operation.

Ensure you conduct the three types of inspections we cover in this blog, be mindful of the forklift’s stability triangle & forks, keep travel slow, steady & free from obstacles to ensure your safety and others around you—And never let someone drive the forklift without proper training, or who hasn’t been designated.  



INFO@HERCULESSLR.COM  1-877-461-4877








Hercules SLR is part of Hercules Group of Companies, with locations and unique businesses coast-to-coast. We provide securing, lifting and rigging services for sectors in Canada and Internationally. Hercules SLR serves the energy, oil & gas, manufacturing, construction, aerospace, infrastructure, utilities, mining and marine industries.

Hercules Group of Companies is comprised of: Hercules SLRHercules Machining & Millwright ServicesSpartan Industrial MarineStellar Industrial Sales and Wire Rope Atlantic.

We have the ability to provide any hoisting solution your business or project will need. Call us today for more information. 1-877-461-4876 or email

Warehouse Safety: 8 steps to take after a racking accident


As we mentioned in our previous blog on warehouse and forklift safety, the winter months are a busy time for warehouse personnel. There’s retail, inventory, and in these modern times, the hustle and bustle doesn’t stop on December 25 – there’s boxing day sales, new years events and more to keep your warehouse busy. During these busy times, a racking accident is more likely to occur.

Many warehouses use a racking system – a material handling storage system meant to store materials on pallets, which are commonly known as ‘skids’. Racking accidents look disastrous and can cause injury – they also take time, money and resources to repair (and this is before the cost of replacing the damaged materials).

Racking accidents tend to occur more than once, generally when proper incident investigation and reporting does not take place – these accidents will continue to happen. Managing a racking accident effectively will ultimately improve your companies whole risk management plan.

To prevent further accidents from taking place, proper incident reporting is absolutely necessary. Norm Kramer, a consultant from Ontario’s Workplace Safety & Prevention Services says incidents often remain unreported, for two reasons:

  1. An ineffective reporting system: It may be common-place to say a racking accident or damage is no big deal in the workplace, and/or the reporting process is too complicated and “not worth dealing with”.
  2. Employees fear consequences: workers may fear discipline or termination after reporting an accident or near-accident.

Here are 8 steps to take after a racking accident in your warehouse:

Accidents happen!
Racking Accident: Be Proactive

Have an investigation team already in place. This team should include people who are aware of accident investigation and causation techniques, and are also familiar with roles and routines of the specific workplace. Examples of these team members could be immediate supervisors, outside-contracted employees, union representatives (if necessary), safety committee members or employees familiar with the role.

Create a basic response plan to follow after an accident/emergency, and post in a common area where all employees can see it.

1. Racking Accident: Consult Workers—And Equipment

Examine the injury/incident that has taken place and take not of the situation at hand. Remember to include the basics – who, what, when, where and how. If needed, don’t forget to acquire medical attention. Inspect the rack and determine the type and amount of damage.

2. Racking Accident: Control the Area

Protect worker safety and secure the area if needed. You may need to contain the damage, or unload the racking structure if safe to do so.

3. Racking Accident: Communicate Hazards

Inform workers of hazards on the warehouse floor, and any other obstacles workers should be aware of.

4. Racking Accident: Find the Source

Identify the cause of the accident/hazard. The cause could be incompatible forks and pallets, poor visibility in the warehouse, or not enough space between racking and the forklift to turn properly.

5. Racking Accident: Put Controls in Place

Place controls on the root source of the accident/incident to remedy it. Controls may range from more training, a different warehouse layout or inspections/repairs to equipment.

6. Racking Accident: Keep Communication Open

Keep communication open with management, human resources and any other management or employees relevant to the accident. Be sure to share relevant forms, documents and other required materials with them.

7. Racking Accident: Repair and Inspect

Be sure to have your racking equipment inspected and/or repaired by a qualified professional. Depending on which province you’re in, these regulations may differ. Factors to consider include: building regulations, fire codes and employer responsibilities regarding safety.

Check with your provincial labour ministry for rules and regulations related to storage and material handling, warehouses and other engineered equipment. The Canadian Centre of Occupational Health and Safety recommends following the Canadian Standard Association (CSA) for Steel Storage and Steel Racking units, A344.1 and A344.2.

Forklift Safety at Hercules SLRracking-accident-warehouse-safety-forklift

At Hercules SLR, we provide hands-on training with a focus on safety—we provide lasting knowledge you and your employees can practically apply. Find more information on our Forklift (Narrow Aisle or Counterbalance) Safety Training course here.

Find more information on Hercules SLR inspection services here, so your forklifts remain in top condition. Learn more about the benefits of our asset management tool CertTracker® for your forklifts and other heavy machinery and equipment.



Hercules SLR is part of the Hercules Group of Companies which offers a unique portfolio of businesses nationally with locations from coast to coast. Our companies provide an extensive coverage of products and services that support the success of a wide range of business sectors across Canada including the energy, oil & gas, manufacturing, construction, aerospace, infrastructure, utilities, oil and gas, mining and marine industries.

Hercules Group of Companies is comprised of: Hercules SLRHercules Machining & Millwright ServicesSpartan Industrial MarineStellar Industrial Sales and Wire Rope Atlantic.

We have the ability to provide any solution your business or project will need. Call us today for more information. 1-877-461-4876. Don’t forget to follow us on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn for more news and upcoming events.

Warehouse Safety: is your forklift holiday season ready?


Warehouse Safety: forklifts and lift trucks

Warehouse Safety—why is it important? Warehouse work presents various short and long term heath and safety issues – these range from musculoskeletal injuries from awkward bending and lifting positions, to chemical and biological hazards from chemicals and natural factors like dampness or mould.

Warehouses are also busy places—we live in an age where everyone wants things “now!”—but during the holiday season, warehouses tend to become even more crowded. Employees, heavy equipment & machinery and packages on the floor all create obstacles for forklift and lift truck operators. Warehouse safety is easy to overlook during busy periods, especially when employees rush to meet deadlines and fill orders.

Busy times enhance the need for warehouse safety, since this is when hazards are most likely to become injurious or fatal. We know warehouse safety can feel like a nuisance, but we assure you—it never is.

In this article on warehouse safety, the spotlight is on forklift and lift truck safety on the warehouse floor. Forklifts are great to lift and move almost anything, and have become essential to any warehouse operation. However, each year there are nearly 500,000 serious injuries from forklift accidents and 85 fatalities.

Read on for common dangers for a forklift found on the warehouse floor, and our tips to keep your forklift operating safely and smoothly.

Forklift & Lift Trucks: common warehouse incidents

As we previously mentioned, forklifts are a very common presence in most industries and are found in the majority of warehouses. Due to being found in so many places, one of the biggest dangers forklifts present is the assumption that they aren’t dangerous. Often, workers become “used” to operating a forklift and forget to follow certain operating procedures, which can result in accidents.

The Infrastructure Health & Safety Association (IHSA) says common forklift injuries and accidents involving workers include:

  • Forklifts being driven off loading docks;
  • Falling between a dock and an unsecured trailer;
  • A worker being struck by a forklift when it’s in reverse and the operator cannot see the worker;
  • A forklift tipping over and crushing an operator or worker;
  • The load on a lift truck isn’t secured or loaded properly and falls off the forks;
  • The operator not keeping their arms and legs inside the cab, which causes them to slip/fall when they get out of the cab.

It’s still a piece of heavy machinery that can cause escalating incidents, as we’ve seen from certain viral videos. This is why it’s important to train new employees and existing employees, to ensure they’re updated on current operating procedures and safety standards. Other common forklift accidents include racking and property damage—which can include anything from damage to other equipment or the building itself. The IHSA says these accidents are caused by three main factors:

  1. Insufficient training
  2. Little safety rule enforcement
  3. Lack of safe operating procedures

Warehouse Safety: inspect your forklift

Hands in? Check. PPE? Check. Looking ahead? Check.

When using a forklift under normal conditions, the CCOHS recommends inspecting forklifts both daily and every six months. A daily visual inspection should include looking for any visible defects or cracks, while a 6-month inspection should be done by a certified inspection technician.

To inspect your forklift, look for:
  • Exposed wires coming from any cables;
  • Worn, loose or dirty battery plug connections;
  • Clogged vent caps;
  • Leaks in the hydraulic system;
  • Damaged wheels;
  • Wear, bends or cracks in forks;
  • Broken or chipped carriage teeth;
  • Chain anchor pins that are worn, loose or bent;
  • Damp/dry spots that would indicate a leak;
  • Chipped paint or other marks indicating damage (thought it seems minor, this is essential for roll-over protection);
  • Securely held hoses that aren’t crimped or worn.
Before operating your forklift, make sure:
  • Air pressure is good in tires;
  • Positioning latches are in good working condition;
  • Engine oil, fuel and radiator water levels are good;
  • Battery is fully-charged and secured in place.
 Operational Inspection Checklist—make sure:
  • Horn works loud enough to be heard clearly in working environment;
  • Floor brake and pedal works—check pedal travel;
  • Parking brake holds against slight acceleration;
  • Deadman seat brake holds against slight acceleration;
  • Clutch and gearshift shifts smoothly with no jerks;
  • Lights and gauges work on dash control panel;
  • Steering is not “sticky” and works smoothly;
  • Lift mechanism operates smoothly (to check, raise forks to maximum height and lower completely);
  • Tilt mechanism moves smoothly and holds (to check, tilt mast all the way forward and back);
  • Mast and carriage don’t have any lose or missing bolts, chain tension or damage;
  • Cylinders and hoses aren’t leaking;
  • Your seatbelt is fastened;
  • Forklift does not make unusual sounds.

Your daily inspection should include not only the forklift, but the warehouse floor itself. On the warehouse floor, look for:

  • Misplaced items on the floor that will create an obstacle;
  • Overhead obstructions;
  • A registered fire extinguisher that’s able to use.

Warehouse Safety: operating & controlling your forklift

Don’t be a dummy—don’t overload your forks!

When you lift a load, be sure to not move or adjust any part of the load while it’s on the forks.

To load pallets, CCOHS suggests ensuring forks are:
  • Level;
  • High enough to stack the pallet;
  • Proper width to distribute weight evenly (otherwise they’ll become unstable);
  • Under the load completely and reaching two-thirds of the load length.
Driving with a Load 101

Support the load with the front wheels of the forklift, and be sure to turn with your back forklift wheels. Be sure to never overload your forks, as this makes it difficult to maintain control of the forklift—do not add a counterweight to fix this!

When travelling on an incline, keep forks pointed downwards when travelling without a load and keep them pointed upwards when travelling with a load. Do not turn until on level ground.

Tips to maintain control with pallets:
  • Carry load with front wheels;
  • Turn with rear wheels;
  • Don’t take sharp turns at high speeds;
  • Don’t overload or add extra weight.

Be sure to avoid any sudden stops and always look in the direction that you’re travelling, whether going forward or in reverse. When in reverse, go slowly, sound your horn before proceeding and stop if vision is limited or blocked. Sound your horn, and proceed with caution.

While driving the forklift, obey posted signs, keep forks as low to the floor as possible and tilted back, decrease speed at turns and sound the horn. Remember, when it comes to using your horn— it’s better to make too much noise than not enough.

While on the floor look, remember to look for:
  • Oil spots
  • Wet spots
  • Loose objects
  • Holes
  • Rough surfaces
  • People/vehicles on the floor or roadway

Forklift Safety at Hercules SLRwarehouse-safety-forklift

At Hercules SLR, we provide hands-on training with a focus on safety—it’s important for us to provide a lasting impression and knowledge you and your employees can take with them. Find more information on our Forklift Safety Training courses here.

Find more information on Hercules SLR inspection services here, so your forklifts remain in top condition—Plus, learn more about the benefits of our asset management tool CertTracker® for your forklifts and other heavy machinery and equipment.



Hercules SLR is part of the Hercules Group of Companies which offers a unique portfolio of businesses nationally with locations from coast to coast. Our companies provide an extensive coverage of products and services that support the success of a wide range of business sectors across Canada including the energy, oil & gas, manufacturing, construction, aerospace, infrastructure, utilities, oil and gas, mining and marine industries.

Hercules Group of Companies is comprised of: Hercules SLRHercules Machining & Millwright ServicesSpartan Industrial MarineStellar Industrial Sales and Wire Rope Atlantic.

Forklift Safety – Top Tips for a Safe Workplace

chariot élévateur

The Forklift is an incredibly useful piece of equipment, used throughout many industries to enhance productivity, speed up processes and protect the health and safety of employees. But they can also be extremely dangerous, with thousands of forklift accidents every year resulting in sometimes serious injuries, and usually caused by improper and unsafe operation or lack of training for the operatives.

Below are a few tips that will help you keep your workplace safe and ensure you get the most from your equipment and employees.

1.   Know the Stats

It’s important to know the dangers that come with using forklifts on loading docks and in warehouses. Keep these statistics in mind while training workers and safely operating forklifts.

  • Overturned forklifts are the leading cause of deaths involving forklifts; they account for 22% of all forklift-related fatalities
  • Workers on foot struck by forklifts account for 20% of all forklift-related fatalities
  • Victims crushed by forklifts account for 16% of all fatalities and falls from forklifts account for 9% of all forklift fatalities

2.   Know the Classes

These are classifications of six commonly-used types of forklifts, as recognized by OSHA, along with different types of trucks unique to each class.

  • Electric Motor Rider Trucks (such as rider-type counterbalanced forklifts and sit-down, three-wheel electric trucks)
  • Electric Motor Narrow Aisle Trucks (such as high lift straddle trucks and platform side loaders)
  • Electric Motor Hand Trucks or Hand/Rider Trucks (such as low lift pallet trucks and high lift straddle trucks)
  • Internal Combustion Engine Trucks with Solid/Cushion Tires (such as counterbalanced fork trucks with cushion tires)
  • Internal Combustion Engine Trucks with Pneumatic Tires (such as counterbalanced fork trucks with pneumatic tires)
  • Electrical and Internal Combustion Engine Tractors (such as sit-down riders)
  • Rough Terrain Forklift Trucks (such as vertical mast type forklifts, variable reach type forklifts, and truck trailer mounted)

Download a full list here

classes of forklifts

3.   Know the Common Hazards

Here’s a quick look at a few common hazards associated with forklifts.

  • Unsecured loads may fall, crushing pedestrians or drivers.
  • Forklifts may tip over, due to excessive speed or imbalanced loads
  • Workers may fall if they stand on the forks
  • Drivers may not see pedestrians, leading to collisions and fatal accidents
  • Improper or missing floor marking may lead to accidents between forklifts and pedestrians

4.   Know the Requirements

Before any employee takes control of a forklift, ensure they’re trained in accordance with CCOHS requirements. 

  • Employers must have a training program that incorporates general principles of safe operation, the types of vehicle(s) used, any hazards created by using forklifts and powered industrial trucks, and CCOHS general safety requirements.
  • Trained forklift operators must know how to do the job safely, as demonstrated in a workplace evaluation.
  • Employers must provide formal and practical training. This may include using some combination of lecture, video, software training, written material, demonstrations, and practical exercise.
  • Employers must certify that operators have received all necessary training and evaluate each operator at least once every three years.
  • Employers must evaluate the operator’s performance and deem the employee competent to operate a powered industrial truck prior to operating the truck.

5.   Know What to Watch For

Employees and employers should work together to ensure a forklift is safe to use before getting behind the wheel. Follow these steps before using a forklift.

  • Perform a daily inspection of all forklifts in use
  • Examine the tires and oil levels
  • Check for water, oil, or radiator leaks
  • Ensure forks are straight and not cracked
  • Test brakes, lights, the horn, and the steering wheel
  • Look for obstructions, uneven surfaces, overhead obstacles, and other potential hazards


6.   Stay Safe While Using A Forklift

Workers should do the following while behind the wheel to protect themselves and co-workers:

  • Make sure the load is balanced and fully secure to prevent a forklift from tipping over
  • Ensure both forks are as far under the load as possible before lifting
  • Drive with the load as low as safely possible
  • Pay attention to posted speed limits and warning signs
  • Always look in the direction you’re traveling; if a load blocks the view ahead, travel in reverse
  • Steer clear of areas where forklifts are prohibited or restricted
  • Keep an eye out for signs, floor marking, and other warnings for pedestrians and forklifts
  • Use the horn at intersections and in areas where pedestrians may be present

Travelling on an Incline

Keep the forks pointed downhill without a load, and pointed uphill with a load. Do not attempt to turn the lift truck until it’s on level ground.


Support the load by the front wheels and turn with the rear wheels. Do not turn the steering wheel sharply when travelling fast. If the lift truck is overloaded, steering will be difficult. Do not exceed load limits, and do not add a counterweight as an attempt to improve steering.

7.   Keep An Eye Out Around Your Facility

Even if you’re not operating a forklift, you can take steps to keep workers safe. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Post forklift safety signs, aisle markers, and forklift procedure labels—using pre-made signs, custom labels, or a combination of the two
  • Implement a floor marking system in your facility
  • Ensure safety signs are at all intersections where pedestrians and vehicles intersect
  • Use steering wheel covers and padlocks when necessary
  • Use proper lockout/tagout equipment to prevent forklifts from inadvertently starting up

Lift Truck Forklift Operator

8.   Safe Loading

It’s important to know the recommended load limit of the forklift (shown on the data plate) and the capacity of the fork, and to never exceed these limits.

Position the load according to the recommended load center. Do not add extra weight to counterbalance an overload. Keep the load close to the front wheels to keep the lift truck stable.

When inserting the fork, keep the mast of the forklift in an upright position before inserting the fork into a pallet. Level the fork before inserting it.

Raising the Load

Do not raise or lower the fork unless the lift truck is stopped and braked. Avoid lifting a load that extends above the load backrest if there’s any risk of the load, or part of it, sliding back toward the operator. Check for adequate overhead clearance before raising a load, and maintain a safe working distance from overhead power lines. Lift the load straight up, then tilt back slightly. Watch that the load doesn’t catch on adjacent loads or obstructions. Don’t back up until the forks are free.

When a load is raised, the lift truck is less stable. The operator must stay on the forklift when the load is in a raised position. Don’t allow anyone to stand or walk under the elevated part of the forklift, whether it’s loaded or unloaded.

Handling Pallets

Ensure that forks are level and high enough to go into the pallet, and that they go all the way under the load. Forks must be the proper width to provide even weight distribution.

Avoid trying to move or adjust any part of the load, the forklift or the surroundings when on the forklift. Do not use pallets elevated by forklifts as an improvised working platform.

9.   Develop a Visual Communication System

Here are a few tips for successful visual communication, which can alert operators and pedestrians to hazards caused by forklifts:

  • Use “Stop” signs, speed limit signs, and other traffic control devices
  • Implement way finding to improve the flow of traffic, keep pedestrians away from forklift paths, and direct forklifts along safe routes
  • Point out loading docks, shelves for inventory, and other important places within a warehouse
  • Post signs at junctions to warn pedestrians and forklift operators to stop and look for hazards
  • Display checklists and inspection requirements where forklifts are stored

10.  At the End of a Shift

Once the task is completed or the operative’s shift ends, the forklift should be returned to the designated area and parked safely in the authorized space.

Operatives should never change mid-shift, or in an unauthorized zone, without the new operative being given the time to check the vehicle and adjust the controls, seat and mirrors to suit them, in a safe and designated area.



Hercules SLR is part of the Hercules Group of Companies which offers a unique portfolio of businesses nationally with locations from coast to coast. Our companies provide an extensive coverage of products and services that support the success of a wide range of business sectors across Canada including the energy, oil & gas, manufacturing, construction, aerospace, infrastructure, utilities, oil and gas, mining and marine industries.

Hercules Group of Companies is comprised of: Hercules SLRHercules Machining & Millwright ServicesSpartan Industrial MarineStellar Industrial Sales and Wire Rope Atlantic.

We have the ability to provide any solution your business or project will need. Call us today for more information. 1-877-461-4876. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook for more news and upcoming events.

Forklift Field Modifications Practices


Between scratches, dents, and replaced parts, a forklift can undergo a lot of changes and repairs throughout its lifetime. It’s also common for customers to want to add additional features to a forklift after it arrives. How do you know for sure if the modification is acceptable or how it will ultimately affect your forklift’s safe operation? Here are a few helpful tips based on common misconceptions to help guide you down the right path.

One common misconception is that you don’t need permission to make changes to a forklift. While it’s true that not all modifications require approval, per ANSI B56.1 Section 4.2.1, there are some that do:

“Except as provided in para. 4.2.2, no modifications or alterations to a powered industrial truck that may affect the capacity, stability, or safe operation of the truck shall be made without the prior written approval of the original truck manufacturer or its successor thereof. When the truck manufacturer or its successor approves a modification or alteration, appropriate changes shall be made to capacity plates, labels, tags, and operation and maintenance manuals.”

To put this paragraph in simpler terms, it is stating that if the modification could affect the truck’s lifting capacity, stability, or safe operation, then you should seek prior written approval from the truck manufacturer to make the change. If you’re ever unsure if a modification will require approval, make sure to work with your local, authorized Toyota dealer to confirm. They can also assist with ordering and installing new data plates as necessary.


Some of the common modifications that require approval per this regulation include:

  1. Drilling or cutting into the overhead guard or hood
  2. Changing attachments, forks, masts, or tire types
  3. Swapping counterweights
  4. Modifications that affect visibility



UL Rating

Many forklifts conform to or are certified for a certain Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) rating. There are also options available that modify a forklift to meet other UL rating standards so that they can be safely operated in certain types of environments. The UL rating certification verifies that the forklift and its configuration have been approved by UL to comply with these standards.

What many people don’t know is that any change to a forklift’s electrical, exhaust, or fuel system (among others) can void the UL rating of the truck. Changes as simple as swapping a wiring harness or installing a new strobe light can actually cause the forklift to no longer meet UL’s set standards.

If you need to replace an existing part, replacing it with the same manufacturer’s part as instructed by the manufacturer will typically not void the UL rating. For parts being added that aren’t replacing existing ones, it is important that the parts be approved by UL as a field installable option.  Manufacturers of approved field installable options for forklifts can be found on UL’s website. These pre-approved parts are specific when it comes to the brand/model of the part and the forklift, so it’s important to pay attention to this prior to making any changes. Just because a part is “UL approved” or “UL listed” does not mean that installing it will not void the UL rating of your forklift.

Finally, if a part is being installed or a modification is being made that isn’t pre-approved, UL can send out a field representative to observe the modification being performed. They may also need to test the truck afterwards to determine if it meets their requirements and, if it passes, they can grant their approval for it to maintain the UL rating.

Original article: Material Handling Network

Hercules SLR is part of the Hercules Group of Companies which offers a unique portfolio of businesses nationally with locations from coast to coast. Our companies provide an extensive coverage of products and services that support the success of a wide range of business sectors across Canada including the energy, oil & gas, manufacturing, construction, aerospace, infrastructure, utilities, oil and gas, mining and marine industries.

Hercules Group of Companies is comprised of: Hercules SLRHercules Machining & Millwright ServicesSpartan Industrial MarineStellar Industrial Sales and Wire Rope Atlantic.

We have the ability to provide any solution your business or project will need. Call us today for more information. 1-877-461-4876. Don’t forget to follow us on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn for more news and upcoming events.

Professor Leo’s Forklift Safety Tips – Hercules SLR

Forklift tips

Meet Professor Leo, he is Hercules SLR’s very own ‘top tips’ guy.

Today Leo has 8 tips to make sure you stay safe when operating a forklift!

Feel free to download and share!

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Hercules SLR is part of the Hercules Group of Companies which offers a unique portfolio of businesses nationally with locations from coast to coast. Our companies provide an extensive coverage of products and services that support the success of a wide range of business sectors across Canada including the energy, oil & gas, manufacturing, construction, aerospace, infrastructure, utilities, oil and gas, mining and marine industries.

Hercules Group of Companies is comprised of: Hercules SLRHercules Machining & Millwright ServicesSpartan Industrial MarineStellar Industrial Sales and Wire Rope Atlantic.