Forklift Toolbox Talks: Ideas for Powerful Safety Meetings on Forklifts

Two workers talk safety on a forklift

If forklifts are used in your workplace then you should be holding regular safety talks on them. Period. Even though operators have to be certified, it’s still a good idea to run forklift toolbox talks to keep drivers and pedestrians alert and thinking about forklift safety.

I’m going to outline some ideas and other things to consider for forklift toolbox talks. This should help you write toolbox talks on forklifts and other powered industrial trucks.

If you want downloadable, ready-to-use talks then I suggest checking out our toolbox talk library. There are several forklift safety talks, safety bulletins and other resources that will help you conduct powerful meetings.

What to Talk About in Forklift Toolbox Talk

The most obvious topic for forklift safety talks is to review general best practices. But that won’t get you very far—and it also won’t get people engaged.

I have two suggestions to improve the effectiveness of your toolbox talks on forklifts:

  • get more focused and detailed
  • get more engagement

Let’s start with the first one. Generally speaking, the more focused that a safety meeting is, the more powerful and memorable it will be. Instead of review high-level best practices, really drill down into one area of forklift safety and go into detail on it.

Try picking one of these subjects and really discussing it in detail in your next forklift toolbox talk:

  • forklift hazards
  • causes of distraction for forklift operators
  • inspecting forklifts
  • detailed review of driving a forklift
  • pedestrian safety (from both the drivers’ and pedestrians’ perspectives)
  • refueling forklifts
  • using forklifts on loading docks
  • issues specific to picking up/putting down a load
  • parking a forklift
  • preventing tipovers

There’s a side benefit to taking this approach: it will also let you do more forklift toolbox talks, because you’re not using all your material in a single talk.

Just did a talk on refueling forklifts? Great! Make your next toolbox talk about forklift inspections. This allows you to continually discuss forklift safety without boring workers.

My second suggestion is to make engagement and discussion the focus of your next forklift toolbox talk. You can start the talk by going over safety practices, but then spend most of the time getting workers participating.

Here are a few ideas:

  • ask lots of questions to get workers thinking (a lot of my forklift toolbox talks are in a Q&A format)
  • have everyone share stories about forklift incidents
  • tell workers to teach you how to use a forklift (here’s a great example of how to use the reverse-teaching technique works for fire extinguisher safety talks)

Facts

People get used to driving and working around forklifts really quickly. They can become so comfortable around them that they forget how dangerous they can be.

Try shaking up worker complacency by presenting some facts in your forklift toolbox talk:

  • Almost 100 people are killed each year by forklifts, according to Safety+Health. An additional 97,000 people are injured by forklifts on an annual basis, and 35,000 of those injuries are serious.
  • 42% of forklift fatalities happen when the operator is crushed and killed by a vehicle that tips over.
  • 11% of all forklifts will be involved in an incident and 70% of these incidents could be prevented with proper operator training and safety talks to reinforce that training. (Source)

When to Deliver Forklift Toolbox Talks

If forklifts are a major part of your workplace operations then you should conduct safety talks on forklifts regularly.

You can also hold a forklift toolbox talk if you notice people being lax in driving forklifts or when working around them. An uptick in near-misses could also be a sign that you should run a safety meeting on forklifts.

Want More Forklift Safety Talk Resources?

If you need toolbox talks and other safety resources on forklifts and powered industrial trucks, you have two options. You can either write your own, using some of the suggestions I’ve provided above.

Or, you can download forklift toolbox talks. Most online toolbox talks only cover the most basic elements of forklift safety. That’s why I’ve created several talks and safety bulletins that really drill down into different forklift safety issues. You can see what’s available in the menu at the top of the page.

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