Everything You Need to Know About Forklift Inspection [Bonus: Checklist Software]


Forklifting is an activity that features in most modern business environments — whether you are stationed in a warehouse, production line, or retail department, at some point you will need to move a heavy load, and to achieve this, forklifts are a company’s ultimate machine.

A forklift is an essential tool that supports most of your venture’s departments. Although it is vital to move incredibly heavy loads, forklifts are no different from other workplace machines.

The probability of this “Hercules” tool injuring an unsuspecting employee is significantly high. According to OSHA (Operational Safety and Health Administration), annually, more than 100 workers suffer from forklift-related injuries. Surprisingly, this statistic is exclusive of an estimated 95,000 near-injury cases that occur every year.

Although workplace accidents are inevitable, some forklift mishaps can be averted. This necessitates perfect forklift training procedures. But since safety drillings can extend to various levels depending on the nature of your venture, it may be hard for your operators to guarantee absolute safety.

If your organization heavily relies on forklifts to perform critical tasks, you may experience a dilemma. However, a comprehensive forklift checklist provides a way around this.

Notwithstanding the importance of a forklift checklist in minimizing workplace injuries, you will be surprised that most people are unaware of this essential document. If you are among the unaware, this article will help you comprehend the dynamics of a forklift checklist.



Part 1
What Is a Forklift Checklist?

A forklift checklist is a detailed document that highlights the crucial aspects a forklift operator should consider before engaging this machine. This meticulous template outlines the recommended procedures for forklift maintenance and the main safety precautions to observe before using this type of equipment.

Just like all other heavy machine checklists, an excellent forklift checklist’s main purpose is to prevent equipment-related accidents. This exceptional checklist obliges its operators and maintenance technicians to observe critical safety measures, ultimately preventing the machine from breaking down or causing injury while in operation.

An ideal forklift checklist will stress safety guidelines including:

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  • Checking for brake system malfunctions (this can be broken down into key aspects like functioning, parking, and emergency breaks)
  • Checking for flaws in the lighting system (headlights and brake lights)
  • Checking for problems with the warnings system, like sirens, horns and safety belts
  • Checking for physical damage, especially on the mast chains and the folk
  • Checking for tire pressure and threads

A forklift checklist includes intuitive maintenance guidelines that outline all the critical areas of this machine, thus streamlining the whole forklift inspection procedure.

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Part 2
Importance of Forklift Inspection

Equipment inspection is an essential exercise for all machine operators. Regardless of the size or sophistication of your forklift, keeping your tool in its best working condition is paramount. A forklift is designed to safely handle heavy loads. However, it is vital to remember that a forklift can be just as perilous as other industrial machinery.

Because workplace accidents are mostly caused by faulty machines, inspecting your forklift is a necessity. A poorly inspected forklift can cause damage to the priceless loads it is carrying and injure your workers. Preventing this is the main benefit of forklift inspection.

Additionally, forklift inspection offers dozens of other benefits, including:

  1. Helps Reduce Workplace Accidents

    Regularly inspecting your forklift helps identify faulty components in the equipment, thus helping diminish cases of forklift-related accidents. Besides keeping the operator safe, this vital procedure also helps ensure the safety of your merchandise.

  2. Greatly Reduces Repair Costs

    Inspecting and repairing your forklift will help prevent accidents. Generally, damage to machines starts with mild wear or tear. Frequently inspecting your forklift will allow you to identify an error in its early stages.
    With the forklift faults discovered before they turn devastating, your repair costs will be significantly lower. Ultimately, this will improve the overall lifespan of your machine, thus boosting its average output.

  3. Increases Productivity

    With automation playing an integral role in current business practices, sophisticated machines and systems are essential and have taken a significant part in most industrial departments. Forklifts are key equipment primarily employed to move heavy loads in production and retailing lines.
    While efficiently transporting large packages within your venture without damaging them is vital to save time and improve production, a broken-down forklift may shut down your operations.

With a damaged forklift, handling raw materials and finished products is challenging. As this can completely halt your workflows, achieving anticipated targets and deadlines may be practically impossible, thus hampering productivity.

Thus, it is vital to regularly inspect your entire fleet of forklifts to ensure that they are working optimally.

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Part 3
Best Practices When Inspecting a Forklift

A comprehensive forklift inspection is undeniably essential. Besides protecting your merchandise and boosting your workplace safety, keeping your fleet of forklifts fully optimized guarantees compliance with OSHA regulations, thus avoiding heavy penalties.

Despite the incredible benefits, however, a significant number of operators are completely unaware of how to perform this essential task. Upon purchasing a forklift, a customized maintenance checklist is always provided. Although most people take these guidelines seriously, forklift-related accidents are on the rise.

So how do you conduct a reliable forklift inspection? To ensure ideal forklift inspection procedures, here are some of the best practices to consider.

  1. Inspect your forklift when the engine is off

    It is difficult to identify some forklift problems, especially when the engine is running. Loose safety clips and tiny yet devastating cracks on the fork are particularly hard to recognize. To ensure a thorough forklift inspection, the first step is to examine the machine when the ignition key is in off position.

    This vital yet commonly overlooked stage ensures that there are no moving parts or deafening noises, thus minimizing disturbances. Ultimately, this nurtures a quiet scene which enhances mental focus, enabling you to quickly identify even the most elusive flaws.
    Tip: It is important to note that this stage focuses on establishing physical damage to the forklift, including chipped off forks, mast wire tension, worn out tires, and many more defects.

  2. Inspect when the truck is running

    Having fully inspected your forklift with the engine switched off, you can now examine it when the equipment is running. The purpose of this stage is to establish any faults with the working parts of the machine.

Other Best Practices Include:

  • Strictly follow the manufacturer’s maintenance manual, as it prioritizes the most crucial parts and provides comprehensive guidelines for every stage of inspection
  • Conduct inspections daily, especially after heavy duties on the previous days
  • Take cracked forks seriously, as they can result in serious damage when under stress
  • Take pictures of damaged parts and include brief notes for future reference
  • Formulate actionable corrective procedures for faulty systems and parts

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Part 4
Sample Forklift Checklist Template

Although forklifts come in various sizes and shapes, for inspection and maintenance, they can be categorized into two distinctive models (electric and non-electric). In this section, we will provide a comprehensive forklift inspection checklist for both types.

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In the checklists below is a list of all parts you should consider with their recommended conditions. Add a check if the focus area is in good condition and a cross if it is not.

  1. Non-Electric Forklift Inspection Checklist
    non-electric forklift inspection checklist
  2. Electric Forklift Inspection Checklist

While most of the aspects listed in the non-electric model should feature here, a comprehensive electric forklift checklist should focus on features like:

  • Checking for worn-out cables
  • Ensuring that the battery is properly secured (functional battery restraints)
  • Checking for electrolyte levels (as per the manufacturer’s guidelines)
  • Checking for a malfunctioning hood latch


In any workplace scenario, safety requires efficiency. Whether you are using an electric or non-electric forklift, keeping this vital equipment in its best working condition is vital. Thoroughly inspecting and fixing all defects on your forklift will reduce accidents, ultimately ensuring the safety of both your employees and your merchandise.

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