Electric Forklift Safety: A Comprehensive Guide to Workplace and Pre-Operational Safety

Electric Forklift Safety: A Comprehensive Guide to Workplace and Pre-Operational Safety

Electric forklifts play a crucial role in material handling operations across industries. These efficient machines are favoured for their eco-friendly nature and quiet operation. However, like any heavy machinery, electric forklifts can pose risks if not operated and maintained with utmost care.

In this guide, we will delve into electric forklift safety, focusing on pre-operational safety checks, dos and don’ts while operating, safe charging practices, setting up a charging bay, and proper parking procedures.

Electric Forklift Safety

Electric forklifts are well-suited for indoor use and environments where air quality is a concern.

Pre-Operational Safety Checks

Before starting any shift, it’s imperative to conduct thorough pre-operational safety checks on your electric forklift. These checks ensure that the equipment is in proper working condition and help prevent accidents caused by mechanical failures. Follow this checklist:

  • Visual Inspection: Look for signs of damage, leaks, and loose parts. Pay attention to tires, forks, hydraulic hoses, and the mast.
  • Battery Inspection: Ensure the battery is properly secured and that cables are tight and free from corrosion. Check the water level in flooded batteries if applicable.
  • Controls and Instruments: Test all controls, including the steering, brakes, horn, lights, and indicators.
  • Safety Devices: Test safety features such as the seatbelt, backup alarm, and emergency stop button.
  • Lifting Mechanism: Test the lifting and tilting functions without any load to ensure they’re working smoothly.
  • Tires: Check tire pressure and overall condition. Improperly inflated tires can affect stability and performance.
  • Charger Connection: If the forklift was left on charge overnight, ensure that it is properly disconnected before use.

Dos and Don’ts When Operating an Electric Forklift

When operating an electric forklift, following best practices can significantly reduce the risk of accidents. Here’s a list of dos and don’ts:


  • Wear Proper PPE: Always wear appropriate personal protective equipment, including safety shoes, high-visibility clothing, safety glasses and gloves.
  • Observe Speed Limits: Operate the forklift at a safe and controlled speed, especially when turning or navigating corners.
  • Maintain Clear Visibility: Ensure that your line of sight is not obstructed by the load. Travel in reverse if the load obstructs your view.
  • Keep a Safe Distance: Maintain a safe distance from other vehicles, pedestrians, and obstacles to prevent collisions.
  • Use Seatbelt: Always wear your seatbelt while operating the forklift, even for short distances.


  • Don’t Overload: Never exceed the forklift’s rated load capacity. Overloading can lead to tip-overs or loss of control.
  • Don’t Carry Passengers: Forklifts are designed for a single operator. Never allow anyone to ride along on the forklift, as it can compromise stability.
  • Don’t Use Mobile Devices: Avoid using mobile phones or other distractions while operating the forklift.
  • Don’t Neglect Blind Spots: Be aware of blind spots around the forklift and use caution when reversing.
  • Don’t Raise Loads While Moving: Always come to a complete stop before lifting or lowering loads.

Safe Charging of an Electric Forklift

Proper charging practices are essential to ensure the longevity of your electric forklift’s battery and maintain workplace safety.

  • Designated Charging Area: Set up a designated charging bay in a well-ventilated area, away from flammable materials and high-traffic areas.
  • Use Manufacturer-Approved Chargers: Only use chargers recommended by the forklift manufacturer to avoid damage to the battery.
  • Follow Charging Cycles: Stick to recommended charging cycles. Avoid interrupting the charging process prematurely.
  • Inspect Cables and Connectors: Regularly inspect charging cables and connectors for signs of wear or damage.
  • Monitor Charging: While the forklift is charging, periodically check for overheating or unusual odours. If you detect any issues, stop the charging process and address the problem.
  • Training and Education: Provide thorough training to forklift operators on proper charging procedures and safety protocols.
  • Regular Inspections and Maintenance: Schedule regular inspections of the charging bay, equipment, and batteries.

Setting Up a Charging Bay

When it comes to workplace safety, every detail matters. Setting up a forklift charging bay that prioritises safety is essential for preventing accidents and ensuring the well-being of employees. A well-designed charging bay not only extends the life of your forklift batteries but also minimises potential hazards.

Here are some key steps to consider when creating a safe forklift charging bay:

  • Location and Ventilation: Choose a well-ventilated area that is away from high-traffic zones. Proper ventilation helps dissipate any gases released during the charging process. This is crucial as the accumulation of hydrogen gas can pose explosion risks.
  • Adequate Spacing: Ensure there is sufficient space between charging stations to prevent crowding and allow easy movement of forklifts. Proper spacing reduces the risk of collisions and provides easy access for maintenance.
  • Fire Prevention Measures: Equip the charging bay with dry chemical, CO2 or foam fire extinguishers and smoke detectors. Lithium-ion batteries, commonly used in forklifts, can be a fire hazard if not handled properly.
  • Fire-Resistant Materials: Construct the charging bay with fire-resistant materials, such as fire-resistant drywall or cementitious boards, to contain potential fires and prevent their spread.
  • Clear Signage: Clearly label all charging stations with safety instructions and warnings. This helps remind operators of safe practices and provides guidelines for emergency situations.
  • Electrical Safety: Install dedicated circuits and outlets to handle the charging load. This prevents overloading the electrical system and reduces the risk of electrical accidents.
  • Eyewash Station: Ensure that an eyewash station is nearby so immediate first aid can be administered in case of accidental exposure.
  • Spill Kit: Ensure that the charging bay has an adequate spill kit and containment. The spill kit should consist of absorbent materials, personal protective equipment (PPE), containment accessories, cleaning supplies, disposal tools and clear instructions and labels.
  • Neutralising Agents: Ensure adequate amounts of neutralising agents such as soda ash or baking soda are available in the charging bay area. Neutralising agents play a critical role in spill response and management.
  • Appropriate Barriers: Install appropriate barriers to protect the charging apparatus from damage from the forklift trucks.

Proper Parking Procedures

Parking the electric forklift correctly is essential to prevent accidental movement and ensure the safety of others in the vicinity:

  • Flat Surface: Park on a level surface to prevent unintended rolling or tipping.
  • Engage Parking Brake: Always engage the parking brake when leaving the forklift unattended. In some workplaces, it may be a requirement to use wheel chocks when paring the forklift.
  • Lower Forks: Lower the forks to the ground and tilt the mast forward slightly to enhance stability.
  • Secure the Area: If possible, use safety cones or barriers to indicate the parked forklift and prevent other equipment from approaching too closely.


Safety is paramount when operating electric forklifts in the workplace. By conducting pre-operational safety checks, adhering to best practices during operation, ensuring proper charging procedures, setting up a safe charging bay, and following correct parking protocols, you can significantly reduce the risk of accidents and create a safer working environment for everyone. Always remember to stay vigilant, prioritise safety, and regularly train operators on the latest safety protocols.

Frequency Asked Questions 

What is the primary advantage of using an electric forklift over a traditional internal combustion forklift?2023-08-16T10:21:29+09:30

Electric forklifts are preferred for their quieter operation, zero emissions, and lower maintenance requirements compared to internal combustion forklifts. They are well-suited for indoor use and environments where air quality is a concern.

What are the main safety considerations when operating an electric forklift?2023-08-16T10:20:47+09:30

Key safety considerations include proper training for operators, conducting pre-operational checks, maintaining clear visibility while carrying loads, obeying speed limits, and using seatbelts at all times.

How often should pre-operational safety checks be conducted on an electric forklift?2023-08-16T10:20:04+09:30

Pre-operational safety checks should be performed at the beginning of each shift and before the forklift is used. This ensures that the equipment is in proper working condition and reduces the risk of mechanical failures during operation.

Can I charge an electric forklift using a regular power outlet?2023-08-16T10:19:17+09:30

Charging an electric forklift requires specialised charging equipment that matches the forklift’s voltage and capacity. Regular power outlets are not suitable for charging due to the high power requirements of electric forklift batteries.

Are there specific guidelines for charging electric forklift batteries safely?2023-08-16T10:18:40+09:30

Yes, it’s essential to follow manufacturer guidelines for charging cycles, use the recommended chargers, and set up a designated, well-ventilated charging bay. Regularly inspect cables and connectors for wear, and avoid interrupting the charging process prematurely.

What should I do if I encounter a spill involving battery acid from an electric forklift?2023-08-16T10:18:02+09:30

If a battery acid spill occurs, immediately evacuate the area, alert others, and use appropriate personal protective equipment. Neutralise the acid with recommended substances, contain the spill, and follow established cleanup and disposal protocols.

If you liked this post? Why not share it!

DIGI CLIP mobile forms – What Do We Do?

DIGI CLIP mobile forms is an easy-to-use inexpensive digital checklist & inspection app and cloud-based software. DIGI CLIP is used across different industries to capture safety and compliance data and other information to help improve safety, compliance and operational efficiencies.

DIGI CLIP will allow you to remove paper reporting from your business – no more lost, late missing or illegible checklists. The DIGI CLIP mobile app allows images, comments and digital signatures to be added to checklists from a phone or tablet.

DIGI CLIP has a Form Library where you can access all of your checklists, inspections and more ready for use. All checklists and inspections can be edited or updated to meet your risk and operational requirements.

DIGI CLIP also has a safety management module called Safety Tracker. Safety Tracker is our incident and hazard reporting and management software application that adds to DIGI CLIP mobile forms. Incidents and hazards are reported via the DIGI CLIP app or directly on the cloud-based software. Incident and quality Investigations and hazard assessments are completed on templates provided by DIGI CLIP and corrective and closeout actions are tracked by the cloud-based software.

Follow this link if you want to know more about what we do and how we can help or send us a message.

Streamline your safety, compliance & inspection checks with the DIGI CLIP mobile checklist app today.

checklist and inspections app - DIGI CLIP mobile forms

Useful Resources

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide legal, financial, or other professional advice, nor is it intended to replace the advice of a qualified professional. The author and publisher disclaim any liability for any direct, indirect, or consequential damages arising from the use of or reliance on the information provided in this article. Readers are advised to seek the advice of a qualified professional for any specific concerns or questions related to their business operations or compliance with relevant regulations.

Share this post!

Leave A Comment

Go to Top