Maintaining a safe approach

07 October 2016

The heavy workload most forklifts undertake means that if they’re not properly handled when they are in use - or not well maintained in between shifts - the lifespan of machinery will dramatically suffer. Linde Aftersales explains

Forklift trucks get some heavy duty usage in most warehouses. In fact, it’s common for multiple staff members to be trained in their use as hours increase and the smooth running of the warehouse becomes more dependent on them. 

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations Act 1998 makes it a legal requirement for all machinery, including forklifts, to be properly maintained and be in a ‘good state of repair’ for use. Adhering to this will not only help keep your employees safe, it will significantly reduce any downtime caused by faults and maintenance issues. 

Here are a few points to consider 

Dragging the forks?

It’s more common than you might think. It’s very easy to leave the forks lowered and drag them across the warehouse floor, and it’s the most common form of damage to forklifts. It may save a few seconds in the short term, but it’s not worth the damage or the extra fuel required to drag the forks across the ground. 


Grip is everything when it comes safely operating forklifts in a busy warehouse. Without grip, operators can easily lose control leading to accidents and injury. Your forklift tyres should have a visible ‘J60 line’ which acts as a wear indicator - once the depth reaches the line, you only have 100 hours of safe operation left – it’s time to replace the tyres. 

Regular checks

It might seem obvious, but a lot forklift operators still don’t carry out regular safety checks before they hop on for a shift. With each forklift truck that is supplied, the manufacturer should include a safety checklist and it’s good practice to go through this before each shift begins. This isn’t just about the safety of the operator, it’s also the wellbeing of the truck itself – checking things like oil levels, mechanisms and fork integrity. These regular checks will highlight any potential issues with the truck sooner rather than later and mean less downtime in the future. 

Don’t do it yourself

While it can be tempting to quickly address any issues yourself on-site, it’s always better to get an objective, professional opinion. From changing tyres to adjusting the forks, get a professional in and you’ll save yourself a great deal of time, resources and money in the long term. Your forklifts will thank you for it too, and they’ll last a lot longer as a result. 

Remember, prevention is always better than cure. You could have the best forklift mechanics on standby 24 hours a day, but if your forklifts aren’t properly maintained and aren’t used with care it’s not going to do any good. There are certain behavioural practices that can be implemented on shift to ensure forklift longevity, such as avoiding driving over sawdust or loose packaging which can lead to all kinds of problems. You should also clear any debris from the warehouse floor before using your forklifts, so there’s no risk of damage to the shaft bearings or radiator if it gets crushed and tangled in the tyres. 

Keep up with scheduled inspections and ensure your operators use all machinery with care, and the rest should be simple. A forklift that’s kept in good working order will mean less downtime and make for a very efficient and smooth running warehouse.