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forklift pre-shift inspections

Understanding the Basics

Operator safety and skills need attention , but your company must also emphasize the importance of forklift inspection and maintenance


Pre-shift forklift inspections are required by federal law . It states ” industrial trucks shall  be  examined before being placed in service , and shall not be placed in service if the examination shows any condition adversely affecting the safety of the vehicle . Such examination shall be made at least daily. Where industrial trucks are used on a round-the-clock basis, they shall be examined  after  every  shift.  Defects  when  found shall be immediately reported and corrected. “


Every shift requires a pre-shift forklift inspection. The person charged with inspection must visually and operationally inspect the forklift for safe and proper operation. If a defect is  found,  the  forklift  must  be tagged and placed out of service until it’ s repaired by authorized personnel .

Inspections can be completed by the forklift operator or  other personnel ;  however ,  the  person  conducting the p r e- shift forklift inspection should receive training on  how  to  provide  detailed,  consistent  inspections. This person should also be familiar with information found in the forklift operator manual and any site-specific policies required by the your company .

Some employers build a best practice for inspections. Rather than having every forklift operator  perform an inspection, a select team is trained. Members of the team complete the pre-shift forklift inspection  and pass a checklist to a supervisor who authorizes the operator to run the forklift.


If a forklift failure causes an accident that results in a serious injury or  fatality,  osha  will  ask  if  pre-shift forklift  inspections  were  carried  out  properly.  Although  paper  or  electronic  documentation   is  not  required by federal law , it is a great assistance in proving compliance and can be provided to an osha  officer  during interviews with your employees.


OSHA publishes information online that gives an overview for inspections. It states ” before starting your vehicle, conduct a pre-operation (or pre-start) inspection that checks a variety of items, including but not limited to . . . “.  For a full checklist, visit their resource page.

The compliance of a daily pre-shift forklift inspection can  be  your  answer  to  knowing  what  repairs  lie  ahead for your forklift, allowing you to budget for rep air s . Most importantly, it will prevent accidents caused by mechanical failure and keep your employees safer.

Got Questions?

If you have a question on this or any topic related to safety with your forklift, give our resident expert, Dave Bennet, a call or fill out the request form.