Forklifts account for hundreds of deaths and serious injuries every year. While driving forklifts might seem like a straightforward process as driving other vehicles, it comes with its own unique practices and hazards.

After all, two of the most common accidents related to forklifts are unsafe handling maneuvers and driving them too fast.

Neglecting speed limits or improper handling of brakes can cause forklifts to tip or overturn. While driving a forklift, especially around down a slope or intact spaces, it can easily tilt forward/backward or roll sideways due to incorrect use of the accelerator or brakes. 

Moreover, when there are other workers and pedestrians around who might be distracted and thousands of units of warehouse goods, a forklift operator can’t afford to neglect safe brake distances and controlling speed.

We have outlined a few vital aspects to consider safety concerns and operator fundamentals:

Understanding Forklift Speed Limitations

Often, forklift operators are not entirely aware of the right techniques of driving powered trucks. As a result, these are pushed forward to their stability limitations.

Driving too fast can cause the drivers to lose control, mainly if the traveling distance between trucks is insufficient, which, as a result, causes tip-overs, pinning, striking objects, or crushing pedestrians workers.

Thus, it is imperative to drive lifts at a careful and appropriate speed to navigate blind spots and intersections safely. Further, for forklift operators and surrounding pedestrians to stay safe, it is also vital for them to know the right amount of brake force during emergencies, without causing the lift to become unstable. Here are some tips while traveling at speeds to keep yourself and other employees safe:

  • Follow speed limitations strictly that enables you to stop safely.
  • Keep a clear view of narrow aisles and other areas of travel.
  • Be careful of wet or greasy floors.
  • Use sound horn at all intersections.
  • Lower your speed when making turns.
  • Do not drive over loose objects on the floor.

 Safe Braking Practices

Besides speed limitations, safe braking distances are another critical aspect that must be considered when planning out forklift travel paths in the work facility. 

Operators must ensure safe braking distances that are often underestimated in emergencies. Here are a few points that need to be considered:

  • A loaded lift truck cannot be expected to stop safely at quick brakes as the load can cause the lift to tip. 
  • Check lift safety inspections, including conditions of tires and brakes, and other crucial parts. If a tire is worn down, it might lose its grip; so, start your forklift maintenance plan to improve safety and save money in the long run.
  • Uphill/downhill slopes and slippery floor conditions can also increase the time taken for a lift to come to a standstill. 

Ensure Safer Transport with Speed Control

Employers must take sound controls on transportation. Below are key points to remember when it comes to controlling speed and more reliable transport in the workplace:

  • Make sure that the speed limits match work environment conditions, such as areas having poor vision, the flow of pedestrians, lighting conditions, and the type of the load being transported.
  • Use speed limiting devices, especially when it comes to handling heavy materials, forklift height, and turning radius.
  • Put clear speed limit signs all over the place as a reminder for drivers to enforce them.
  • Create pedestrian debarring zones based around the utmost speed traveled in the workplace.
  • Devices like speedometers can be implemented to signal warning alarm in the event of exceeding speed limits to increase drivers’ awareness. 
  • Implement GPS and create speed limits in varying zoned areas such as pedestrians crossing, racking warehouse, & outside speed.


Forklift operators must ensure safe practices to not only the environment but also to their forklift operation to avoid overturning or tipping. Employers must account for factors that can endanger the safety of their operators and workers and put safe and sound mechanisms to prevent them!


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