Common Forklift Truck Hazards

sign showing there are forklifts in an industrial setting

When managing or supervising materials handling operations, keeping your employees safe while working with forklift trucks is one of the top priorities. Maintain a safe workplace by informing and reminding your employees of the most common forklift hazards that could occur.

Working with forklifts can be particularly hazardous; these heavy machines lift and transport oftentimes large objects or multiple items at once, creating a range of risks. In this article, we will explore the various dangers associated with forklift operations and how to mitigate them.

    Common Forklift Hazards

    Some of the most common hazards associated with forklifts and how to prevent them are explained below.


    Tip-overs can occur when the forklift is driving over uneven terrain, or when it is being handled improperly. Sharp cornering, speeding, overloading, and uneven loads can all lead to dangerous tip-over incidents.

    It’s important to carry out one operation at a time and avoid making sharp movements that could destabilise the forklift, as well as to drive at safe speeds.

    Struck-By Accidents

    In order to prevent pedestrians colliding with forklifts, it's crucial to establish designated pedestrian walkways and ensure safe forklift operation.

    This includes operators being vigilant and aware of their surroundings at all times; blind spots can be a major hazard, but using horns and signals, when necessary, can mitigate the risk associated with obstructed lines of vision.

    Falls from Heights

    Falls from heights while working with forklifts can lead to severe injuries or even fatalities. It is crucial to always use the appropriate access platform when lifting colleagues and follow correct procedures to prevent accidents.

    While working at height, you shouldn’t engage in risky behaviours or take shortcuts, especially regarding wearing the correct personal protective equipment, such as harnesses and helmets.


    Overloading occurs when the forklift’s weight limit has been exceeded. Operators should be aware of the forklift’s weight limit before loading operations begin and ensure that the load is evenly distributed.

    Exceeding the maximum load capacity can lead to the forklift tipping over, causing damage to the equipment and potential injury to the operator or others nearby.

    Poor Maintenance

    Regular maintenance of the equipment is essential to prevent accidents and costly repairs. Neglecting routine checks on vital components such as brakes, steering, tyres, and hydraulic systems can result in unexpected failures that put both the operator and others at risk.

    Additionally, a lack of proper lubrication and cleaning can cause parts to wear out faster, leading to expensive repairs and downtime. Establishing a regular maintenance schedule and inspecting forklifts before use will ensure maintenance is upheld.


    Refuelling your forklift can be a hazardous task due to the risk of spills and leaks of flammable substances like diesel and LPG. These chemicals can create slip hazards as well as posing a fire risk if not handled correctly.

    It's crucial to have a designated refuelling area that is well-ventilated and away from any potential ignition sources.

    If you’re handling electric forklifts, these too should be recharged in a safe location to avoid the build-up of combustible gases.

    Forklift Attachments

    Forklift attachments can post hazards if not properly maintained, used, or connected to the forklift.

    Before attaching any equipment, make sure to visually and manually inspect it to ensure it's in good condition and compatible with your forklift. If the equipment is suitable for use, ensure it has been properly attached and the operator is trained on how to use the attachment.


    Speeding in a forklift can be extremely hazardous, as these heavy machines can cause serious damage or injury in the event of a collision or tip-over.

    It is crucial to follow the designated speed limits and be mindful of your surroundings at all times. Racing or reckless driving should never be tolerated, as it puts everyone in the vicinity at risk.

    Blind Spots

    Whilst some blind spots are unavoidable, they pose a serious risk and should be accounted for while driving.

    Blind spots on the forklift can make it difficult to see pedestrians or other equipment in the vicinity. However, spotters or mirrors can help mitigate these issues, alongside keeping an organised facility with designated pedestrian walkways.

    If a blind spot has been created by the load you’re carrying obstructing your view, it is recommended that the operator drives in reverse.

    Additionally, weather conditions and poor lighting can exacerbate visibility issues, so it's crucial to take extra precautions in these situations.

    Floor Conditions

    Poor floor conditions can significantly increase the risk of forklift accidents, with uneven flooring, debris, puddles, obstructions, cracks, and potholes potentially causing the forklift to tip over. 

    It is crucial to regularly inspect and maintain a clean and smooth floor surface to ensure it is free from hazards that could endanger the safety of both forklift operators and pedestrians. 

    Training and Certification

    Training courses and certification demonstrates forklift operators have been trained under the latest standards.

    Training programmes are suitable for experienced and green operators alike, covering essential theoretical and practical aspects such as forklift operation, load handling, safety procedures, and maintenance.

    Atlas Forklift provides forklift driver training through our certified instructors, including both basic forklift training and refresher forklift training programmes. 

    While promoting safety in the workplace, consider the forklift truck hazards that may be raised in your facility. Oftentimes, hazards fall under one of the categories discussed above, however, this list is not exhaustive and your workplace may have unique hazards which must be accounted for.

    For the safety of staff and visitors, efficiency in the workplace, and integrity of your forklifts, all hazards that may occur because of the use of forklifts should be considered and communicated to employees.

    If you want to maintain a safe workplace, consider forklift driver training for you and your team.  Atlas Forklift can help assist, we offer forklift training at your premises or our designated training center. Click here to learn more about our forklift training courses.