Nervous About Driving a Forklift? That's Okay!

Posted on April 30, 2021

If you’re new to operating heavy machinery, you might understandably feel nervous about driving a forklift. Forklift safety is a serious matter. With over 8,000 forklift-related injuries occurring annually in the US, it’s easy to feel concerned about the risks they present. While driving a forklift is a serious responsibility, though, you can overcome a lot of that anxiety with the right precautions and the right mindset. Consider the following tips:

Get Proper Training

The first step to working with any heavy equipment, forklifts included, is to receive thorough and proper training. Proper training should help you understand the ins and outs of your machine while teaching you how to operate it safely around your workplace. It should include both classroom and practical elements, including a written test. At the end of your training, a qualified instructor will watch you operate the machine to make sure you are ready to handle it on the worksite. Completing forklift training can be a good way to boost your personal confidence. It also shows that your employer has confidence in your ability to work with heavy machinery.

A man driving a forklift through an obstacle course
Don’t Be Afraid to Play it Safe

Being nervous about driving a forklift likely means you are concerned about keeping yourself and the people around you safe. And that’s a good thing! When operating your PIT, be extra cautious, especially while you’re still getting a feel for the machine and learning the layout of your work area. Only drive at speeds that allow you to observe your surroundings and notice potential hazards. Stop at intersections. Double-check all around the machine before backing up or moving a load. Working quickly and recklessly can save time in the short term, but overlooking safe practices can result in costly accidents. Never be afraid to take extra precautions with your PIT.

Get to Know Your People

Becoming acquainted with your coworkers and supervisors is a great way to help yourself feel more comfortable at work. It’s also a great way to overcome the anxiety of operating a forklift. Whenever you have questions about your worksite or about operating a forklift, ask a more experienced coworker or supervisor for help. They can give you helpful advice and correct any mistakes you might be making Learning from the experiences of others is almost always safer than trying to work things out by yourself.

As a forklift operator, it’s okay to feel a little uneasy. A healthy amount of concern can keep you from taking unnecessary risks. But there’s no need to be paralyzed by fear. As long as you are willing to learn and recognize safe driving practices, you will prepare yourself to work confidently and effectively.

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