Managing people

Forklift safety: what are the rules?

Discover the rules on safe operation of forklifts. 

7 September 2021

If you have a forklift on site, only those with valid forklift licences who are familiar with safety requirements should operate the machine. This is an important part of managing risks around the workplace and ensuring a safe worksite for everyone. 

A forklift driver safety training course will offer all the important safety notes you need for operation, but these are some standard forklift safety rules to keep in mind, particularly for machines with a cage attachment.

Basic forklift safety for cage attachments

A forklift safety cage attachment is typically used to provide a safe work platform to raise or lift a person performing occasional or short duration tasks where it is not practical to use scaffolding, elevating work platforms or other such devices. Therefore, the person will need to be in the cage before it is raised or lowered. They should not be climbing in or out once it’s raised, except in an emergency.

However, it is advisable to perform a test lift with the forklift cage before a person enters it. Unless the cage is fully enclosed, the person in it must use the forklift safety equipment and attach to an anchorage by a lanyard and harness.

General forklift safety policy recommends that before the cage is lifted, you should ensure the forklift is parked on a hard, level surface, the handbrake is on, all controls other than those for lifting or lowering are immobilised, and the mast is vertical.

The forklift should not be moved forwards or backwards on its wheels while a person is in the cage, and the mast should not be tilted backwards, forwards or sideways while a person is in the cage.

A properly trained forklift operator with the relevant high risk work licence should be in control of the forklift when it's being used, and the manufacturer’s operating instructions should be carefully checked and complied with.

The cage must be securely attached to the forklift carriage, and the forklift should be designed and constructed in accordance with Australian Standard 2359.1: Powered industrial trucks – General requirements. Use of the forklift should comply with Australian Standard 2359.2: Powered industrial trucks – Operations.

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