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.