Forklift and access equipment such as scissor lift or cherry pickers can be essential pieces of machinery for any business. Likewise, it’s essential for any operator of such equipment to be fully aware of all aspects of safety and health. By simply being aware of a number of possible safety and health issues, you can take then steps which, in turn, can greatly contribute to fewer accidents happening with access machinery in the workplace.

Think Ahead and Be Prepared

Before operating any access equipment, on every occasion you should have a checklist of safety procedures to go through. Apart from anything else, you should make sure you have authorisation to operate the equipment and in terms of a forklift, of course, you need to have a forklift licence. As for operating any access machinery for the first time, make sure no-one is standing in a position of any danger around the machine. In regards to a forklift, don’t just use your mirrors to look around but physically turn and check all sides of the vehicle.

When you’re moving a load from one place to another you should also plan out the route ahead and check for any obstructions. A wheel going over an uneven surface could unbalance a load. One other big no-no, is to drive any access equipment with the arm of the vehicle fully extended or too high. This can often result in the machine tipping over.

Know the Load You’re Carrying

When moving a load, it’s also important is to know as much as you can about the load you’re carrying. This includes knowing its weight and specifically if it’s too heavy for the machine you’re operating. Access machines, such as a forklift, have a capacity rating indicating how heavy a load it can carry. Capacity ratings should be on the data plate on the side of the access machine. It also helps, in case of an accident, to know what type of load you’re carrying, whether it’s hazardous materials, liquid or fragile goods. You also need to make sure that the load is safe and secure in terms of packing and packaging.

Posture and Vibration

Along with the safety of the machinery, another major consideration is your own safety. For instance, one very common problem with operating access machinery such as forklifts is suffering back pain. This is a result of things like bad posture and vibration. So always make sure your posture is comfortable and natural when beginning work. The constant vibration from a vehicle can also put great strain on the lower back. This can be lessened by maximising the seat suspension as well as carrying out some simple stretching exercises before beginning work.


The best solution to preventing any accidents is, quite simply, accident prevention training. This should be provided by the company you’re working for, but you can also gain extra training from various companies outside of your workplace. It’s best to look for companies which can give you recognised safety certificates and who have an excellent reputation. Always remember, that no matter what type of access machinery you’re using, you are under no obligation to put your own life at risk or that of anyone else. So if there’s something you’re not happy with, you have every right to have it sorted before you start any job. By doing this and following these other safety and health tips, using access machinery should be a much safer experience.

This post was contributed by Erin Warbrook. She knows a thing or two about Occupational Health and Safety, and how important it can be in instances where you are operating heavy equipment. She spoke to the experts at United Forklift and Access Equipment for their tips and have dos!