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Course 725 - Powered Industrial Truck Safety

Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

Forklift Maintenance


“Out of Service” and Required Check Intervals

A forklift should be checked by a qualified maintenance person for defects the first time it is placed into service and every day that the forklift is used. If the forklift is used continuously, then a maintenance inspection should be checked at the end of each shift.

The maintenance department should conduct inspections of all forklifts at regular intervals. We have included samples of an operator’s “Daily Forklift Safety Checklist” at the end of this module that can be adapted and attached to the forklift as a reminder to the operator to do this check. Some employers keep records of these daily checks.

Corrective Maintenance


Corrective maintenance is a reactive measure conducted only after defects are discovered. It should be the duty of every operator to promptly report to the person in charge any mechanical trouble with the forklift, any bad flooring or obstruction in the aisles, and other safety hazards that are encountered. If a forklift is found unsafe then it must be removed from service until repaired by an authorized person.

Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance is a proactive measure conducted according to a formal schedule to prevent defects that might affect forklift operation. The forklift owner’s manual will have routine checks and preventive maintenance tasks that must be done by a skilled maintenance person to keep the forklift in safe operating condition. Keep a record of this maintenance as well as any repairs that are made.


Maintain the truck in accordance with rules prescribed by the manufacturer. These are some of the rules that truck operators, who are responsible for maintaining their own equipment, should follow:

  • When servicing electrical storage batteries, wear protective clothing to guard against chemical splashes and burns, rubber boots, rubber apron, chemical goggles, face shield and rubber gloves.
  • Do not attempt to lift a storage battery without suitable hoisting equipment.
  • Handle the storage battery carefully to prevent cracking the case and spilling the fluid.
  • Change and charge batteries in locations designed for this specific purpose.
  • Refuel internal combustion powered trucks in the open or where ventilation will carry vapors away.
  • Do not leave trucks unattended or parked with the engine running.
  • Turn off internal combustion engines before refueling.
  • No smoking in service areas.

1. Which type of maintenance is a reactive measure conducted only after defects are discovered?

a. Preventive maintenance
b. Corrective maintenance
c. Routine maintenance
d. Scheduled maintenance

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Safety in the Maintenance Area


To prevent injury or illness when doing maintenance on a forklift:

  • Do not do repairs in an area with a potentially flammable or combustible atmosphere.
  • Make sure there is adequate ventilation to prevent accumulation of exhaust or gas fumes.
  • Do not use a flammable solvent to clean a forklift. Use a non-combustible (flash point above 100 degrees Fahrenheit) solvent.
  • Never get under a forklift supported only by a jack or under any part supported only by hydraulic pressure. Install jack stands or a secure block support.
  • To prevent the forklift from accidentally being started, remove and keep control of the key or disconnect the battery while making repairs. If the electrical system will be serviced, you must disconnect the battery before starting repairs.
  • Battery changing stations for forklifts should reflect both proper safety precautions and good housekeeping techniques. A clean, uncluttered work area reduces the possibility of accidents to workers and equipment.
  • Install “No smoking” signs and eye wash stations to prevent serious injuries.

Modifying Forklifts


When you replace parts, make sure they are equivalent to the original manufactured part.

Do not alter or eliminate any forklift parts or add any accessories such as additional counterweights or lifting attachments unless approved by the manufacturer in writing. Make any necessary changes to the load capacity plate and operating instructions.

Cleaning Forklifts

Operators are responsible for keeping their forklifts clean. At the end or the start of every shift, clean all surfaces of the truck with a suitable cloth to remove all dust, dirt and grease. It’s best to use a wax-treated flannel dusting cloth such as those commonly used to clean dust and dirt off cars.

2. Do not modify forklifts unless _____.

a. approved informally by the safety manager
b. approved by a qualified maintenance person
c. approved by the manufacturer in writing
d. approved by an OSHA consult in writing

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Refueling: Gasoline and Diesel


Forklifts that use gasoline are easy to refuel. However, gasoline is very flammable. Below are recommended best practices for refueling:

  • Refuel only at designated safe locations. A designated safe location outdoors is preferable to a refueling area indoors. Do not refuel trucks in hazardous areas or around heat sources.
  • Stop the engine during refueling.
  • Do not smoke while refueling.
  • Do not allow the forklift to become low on fuel or run out of fuel. Sediment or other impurities in the tank could be drawn into the fuel system causing difficulties in starting and cause damage to the internal components.
  • Fill the fuel tank at the end of each day.
  • Do not fill the tank to the top, as it may overflow because fuel expands as it is heated.
  • Follow correct refueling procedures:
    1. Park the forklift in the designated refueling area.
    2. Engage the parking brake.
    3. Place the transmission in "Neutral."
    4. Lower the forks to the ground.
    5. Shut off the engine.
    6. Open the filler cap.
    7. Fill the tank slowly (if spillage occurs, wipe off fuel and wash down the area with water).
    8. Close the filler cap.

3. Which of the following procedures should be following when refueling forklifts?

a. Idle the engine when refueling
b. Fill the tank when it runs out of fuel
c. Do not fill the tank to the top
d. Fill the tank at the beginning of the workshift

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Check out this short video by Ted Johnson Propane on Forklift Fuel Filling.

Refueling: Liquid Petroleum Gas

Liquid petroleum gas (LPG) is a commonly used fuel for forklifts. It is a safe fuel when handled properly. When handled improperly, it can cause serious injury or death.

  • LPG vapor is heavier than air and will seek the lowest lying area. If not adequately dissipated, it will collect in pockets and possibly ignite when exposed to a heat source.
  • LPG is extremely flammable.
  • LPG is extremely cold when exposed to the atmosphere. If your skin is exposed to LPG, you can get frostbite.

Below are the requirements and recommended best practices for refueling:

  • Do not refuel LPG-powered trucks in confined areas where LPG vapors could collect if a leak occurs.
  • Do not leave LPG-powered trucks near heat sources, stairways, exits, or other egress areas.
  • When parking LPG-powered trucks for a long period of time, turn the service valve off.
  • Only trained and authorized personnel should replace LPG containers.
  • Follow proper procedures for storing and handling liquid petroleum gas.

4. When parking LPG-powered trucks for a long period of time, _____.

a. set the brake to the neutral position
b. insulate the propane tank
c. remove the propane tank
d. turn the service valve off

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Operator’s Daily Checklist: Gas or LPG Forklift

Check each item before the shift starts. Put a check in the box if the item is OK. Explain any unchecked items at the bottom and report them to a supervisor.

Forklift Serial Number:

Hour Meter Reading:



Visual Check

Tires are inflated and free of excessive wear or damage. Nuts are tight.
Forks and mast are not bent, worn, or cracked.
Load back rest extension is in place and not bent, cracked, or loose.
Overhead guard is in place and not bent, cracked, or loose.
Attachments (if equipped) operate OK and are not damaged.
Forklift body is free of excessive lint, grease, or oil.
Engine oil is full and free of leaks.
Hydraulic oil is full and free of leaks.
Radiator is full and free of leaks.
Fuel level is OK and free of leaks.
Battery connections are tight.
Covers over battery and other hazardous parts are in place and secure.
Load rating plate is present and readable.
Warning decals and operators’ manual are present and readable.
Seat belt or restraint is accessible and not damaged, oily, or dirty.
Engine runs smooth and quiet without leaks or sparks from the exhaust.
Horn works.
Turn signal (if equipped) operates smoothly.
Lights (head, tail, and warning) work and are aimed correctly.
Gauges and instruments are working.
Lift and lower operates smoothly without excess drift.
Tilt operates smoothly without excessive drift or “chatter”.
Control levers are labeled, not loose or binding and freely return to neutral.
Steering is smooth and responsive, free of excessive play.
Brakes work and function smoothly without grabbing. Proper fluid levels. No fluid leaks.
Parking brake will hold the forklift on an incline.
Backup alarm (if equipped) works.

5. When inspecting the forklift, what is important to look at when checking the brakes?

a. Fluid levels and leaks
b. Make sure brakes are cool to the touch
c. Pumping brakes is limited
d. Functional backup alarm

Check your Work

Read the material in each section to find the correct answer to each quiz question. After answering all the questions, click on the "Check Quiz Answers" button to grade your quiz and see your score. You will receive a message if you forgot to answer one of the questions. After clicking the button, the questions you missed will be listed below. You can correct any missed questions and check your answers again.

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