Safe use of forklifts

by Mar 12, 2020Material handling safety management

In an SME or a multinational with thousands of employees, it is difficult not to see at least one forklift circulating.

The inevitable situations of pedestrian-forklift cohabitation generate an increased risk of collision with damage, often serious for pedestrians, not to mention collision situations between forklift trucks which are costly both in terms of human and material costs.

The CNESST recommends having a general policy for the use of forklifts, which is based on four points: the driver, the forklift, the working environment and the working methods.


The forklift driver

The driver is one of the most significant factors in the safe use of forklifts because, without sufficient control of this factor, the efforts made for the remaining three points will be neutralized. Reducing the risk of accidents caused in whole or in part by forklift operators mainly involves training, but also through their physical ability to work as a forklift driver. In addition, further training is required (other than the basic training).


The forklift

For the forklift truck, first ensure compliance with the basic requirements of the Regulation respecting occupational health and safety (RSST Art245.1 to 245.6)

Compliance with these articles could generally be achieved by always carrying out an inspection of the equipment before the shift. Inspection items must include brakes, steering, warning devices, safety devices, mast, tires and all controls. Record damage, report problems and notify management of any problems. Do not leave damaged or unsafe equipment running until it is repaired.

It is also necessary to comply with the information on the nameplate and all other information provided by the manufacturer in order to ensure safe use and within the limits provided during the design of the forklift.

In order to optimize the forklift verification process, it is strongly recommended to use checklists.


The work environment

It is mainly a question of the state of the places where the forklifts circulate alone or in cohabitation with pedestrians or other handling equipment.

The conditions for a safe forklift traffic environment are sufficiently detailed in the RSST (lighting, condition of the ground, delimitation of traffic lanes, clearance, etc.).

It should be noted that it is strongly recommended to do intrinsic prevention by analyzing and optimizing the movement of forklifts in order to minimize intersections, areas of cohabitation with pedestrians, use of other handling equipment, unit analysis loads, etc.


The working methods

In general, good forklift driving practices are taught during basic training and advanced training for forklift operators, however, it is preferable that clearer working methods are better suited to each developed environment understood and applied by forklift operators, in particular with regard to the lifting of a worker with a forklift, movement on slopes, movement with lifted fork, reversing procedures, loading / discharging, parking, handling and charging of batteries.

For forklifts, it is also important to apply lockout procedures in accordance with current legislation and suitable for the equipment (mobile equipment) before each maintenance intervention.

Finally, the aspects discussed in this blog may not be exhaustive, therefore, it is necessary to have a deep understanding of the specifics of your situation in order to optimize the efforts to secure your workplaces.

In fact, here is he way to have an immediate impact on the cohabitation between cart and pedestrian.



Regulation respecting occupational health and safety in Quebec, c. S-2.1, r. 13. (RSST)

CNESST, (2019). Annual statistics 2018. DC200-1016web.


Tucker, S., Keefe, A. (2019). 2019 Report on Work Fatality and Injury Rates in Canada. University of Regina.

CNESST, (2019). Fatal accident that occurred on May 28, 2019, at a worker at 9070-3422 Québec Inc .. CNESST, Investigation report EN004205.


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Intervention Prévention concentrates its operations in the field of work safety, offering specialized services following Standards CSA Z462 – Workplace Electrical Safety, CSA Z460 – Control of Hazardous Energy: Lock-out and Other Methods, and CSA Z432 – Safeguarding of Machinery.


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