Safety in working with lift trucks

Lift trucks are widely used throughout industry for moving materials and goods, but they also feature prominently in workplace accidents. Even an incident not causing injury may result in costly damage to lift trucks, buildings, fittings and the goods being handled, and may disrupt work.

This guidance is relevant for anyone with responsibility for the safe operation of lift trucks, eg employers, controllers of worksites, managers, supervisors or operators. Other people involved with lift trucks, eg trade union health and safety representatives, may also find it useful. However, this guidance does not replace formal training.

The main areas covered are: the law; types of lift truck; lift truck operators; training; authorization to drive; the working area; protecting pedestrians and operators; operation of lift trucks; trailers and loading platforms; maintenance; and two appendices covering training bodies and medical standards for lift truck operators. 


Introduction 5

Management of lift truck operations 5

Who should read this guidance? 5

The law 5

Types of lift truck 7

Industrial counterbalance lift truck 7

Industrial reach truck 8

Rough-terrain counterbalance lift truck 8

Telescopic materials handler 8

Side-loading lift truck 9

Pedestrian-controlled lift truck 9

Large lift truck 9

Lift truck operators 10

Selection of operators and trainees 10

Medical considerations 10

Training 11

Stages of training and other considerations 11

Testing 13

Authorisation 13

The working area 13

Parking areas 15

Protecting pedestrians and operators 15

Pedestrians 15

Operators 16

The lift truck 17

Risks arising from motive power 22

Attachments 23

Operation of lift trucks 26

Dos and don’ts 26

Stacking and de-stacking 28

Stacking with counterbalance lift trucks 28

De-stacking with counterbalance lift trucks 30

Reach trucks 31

Stacking with reach trucks 31

De-stacking with reach trucks 33

Working platforms 34

Masted rough-terrain counterbalance lift trucks 34

Telescopic materials handlers 35

Side-loading lift trucks 36

Pedestrian-controlled trucks 37

Trailers and loading platforms 37

Maintenance 37


1 Accrediting bodies 39

2 Medical standards for lift truck operators 39

References and Further reading 43

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