Common Forklift Practical Test Mistakes to Avoid

Practical forklift training course. Industrial background.

Preparing for an upcoming forklift practical test? Be aware of the most common mistakes made during a forklift practical test that could cost you valuable points…

From not wearing your seatbelt to improper load handling, we provide a comprehensive list of the most frequently made errors in order to help you avoid them. However, this list is not exhaustive and you should always consult official handbooks and keep up-to-date with driver training.

Increase your chances of passing your practical test and read on!

    1. Poor Forklift Operator Behaviour

    Displaying a poor attitude towards the forklift, its operation, or the test itself can be a red flag for examiners.

    This is because a poor attitude can demonstrate disregard for safety and operation guidelines, which could lead to accidents through violations of regulations at a later date.

    Poor operator behaviour could lead to engagement in distractions, such as using your phone while operating the forklift, a reduced awareness of your surroundings, shortcutting safety protocols such as inspections, and speeding or recklessly driving the forklift.

    Your attitude and approach to the forklift can make a big difference in ensuring a safe and efficient work environment.

    2. Not Wearing a Seatbelt

    Putting your seatbelt on can be an easily overlooked safety precaution during your test, especially if you’re nervous or focussing on other elements of the test.

    However, not wearing your seatbelt puts your safety at risk and could lead to serious injury on the job; therefore, your examiner will be checking to make sure you’re wearing a seatbelt.

    Make it a habit to always fasten your seatbelt before starting any forklift operation to ensure that during your test and in future operations, securing it is second nature.

    3. Improper Load Handling

    Loading and transporting materials safely and securely is a critical part of your practical test.

    Improperly loading materials on the forklift can lead to instability and potential tip over, which can put both the operator and the load at risk, so it’s essential that the load is properly secured before the forklift moves.

    The position of the forks is key to this. If the forks are either too high or too low, this can cause the forklift to become unbalanced.  

    Additionally, you should always ensure that you are stationary when loading or unloading materials to maintain control of the forklift and prevent any mishaps.

    4. Incorrect Tilt When Handling

    Along the same lines, when carrying out loading and transporting operations, make sure to correctly tilt your load for safe handling.

    Improperly tilting the load can lead to the load becoming unstable, potentially leading to damage or an accident. So when handling a load with a forklift, it is crucial to tilt the load back towards the forklift to prevent it from slipping off the forks.

    Tilting it too far back can also pose risks, however, as it may affect the forklift's centre of gravity and result in instability. Make sure to find the right balance in line with your forklift’s centre of gravity and load capacity.

    5. Communication Lapses

    A busy and noisy warehouse or construction site may lead to a breakdown in communication. Therefore, it’s important to be clear and proactive in your communication to avoid potential misunderstandings and accidents.

    One common mistake is not signalling your intentions clearly to others around you. Whether it's through verbal cues or using the forklift truck's lights and sounds, ensure those within the vicinity, whether pedestrians or forklift drivers, understand your intentions.

    6. Failure to Use Horn

    Another lapse in communication is failure to use the forklift horn. Using the horn to communicate in busy work environments alerts others of your presence and can help avoid potential collisions.

    The horn should be used when approaching corners, doorways, blind spots, or when reversing. Even though it may not be a common practice in many warehouses or construction settings, it is a necessary safety measure that should not be neglected. 

    7. Pre-Shift Inspection Oversight

    The pre-shift inspection is a huge element of your practical test and daily forklift operation.

    This inspection should be conducted prior to operating the forklift to check its operational readiness and safety. Your examiner will be checking that you closely follow an approved checklist of safety measures to ensure the forklift is in safe working order.

    Skipping or rushing through this can lead to oversight of potential issues that could compromise the forklift's immediate performance or integrity in the future, posing a safety risk and an expensive maintenance or repair service.

    8. Inadequate Observation

    Your levels of observation will be examined in the test, so it's crucial to look in the direction you’re travelling while driving the forklift in order to be aware of your surroundings.  

    Failing to do so not only compromises safety but also affects precision, which is another key aspect of the test. For example, inadequate observation may result in an accidental touching of the established course, racking, or load, which may result in points being deducted.

    9. Lack of Secure Parking

    Another common mistake which will get you points deducted is not parking correctly.

    The forklift should be parked securely by applying the handbrake and putting it in neutral when stationary. A lack of secure parking can lead to accidents and damage to property.

    Another tip is to make sure the forklift wheels are straight when parked; this is something the examiner will be looking out for.

    10. Speeding

    Speeding is a serious offence, as it can lead to dangerous accidents including loss of control, tip-overs, and collisions. Competitive driving, racing, and speeding are all prohibited acts – so when undertaking your practical test, always follow the speed limit in your environment to demonstrate compliance.

    When you exceed the speed limits, you reduce your ability to react quickly to unexpected obstacles or changes in the environment. This can result in collisions, damage to goods, and even serious injuries.

    Additionally, speeding increases the likelihood of tipping over the forklift, especially when taking corners or navigating rough terrain.

    Keep these forklift practical test mistakes in mind. A good attitude, thorough inspection, and wearing your seatbelt will set your examination up for success. From there, follow best practice and drive carefully and considerately to ensure a pass. 

    If you require forklift driver training, please contact us at Atlas Forklift. We collaborate with an RTITB training provider who offers forklift training to help you prepare for your practical test.