10 Simple Tips on How to Operate a Toyota Forklift

How to Operate a Toyota Forklift

Driving a forklift is not like driving an automobile. It’s a rear-wheel steering machine, so you have to slow down when making turns around corners and leave ample room for the rear-end to swing. A little training and time can go a long way toward understanding how to operate a Toyota forklift, but at Toyota Material Handling Ohio we also here to help. Follow our ten simple tips on how to become an efficient and safe forklift operator.

  • Step 1 – Receive your Operator Certificate

Before operating a forklift – especially a Toyota Forklift from TMHOH, you will need to receive a forklift operator certification. At TMHOH, we provide operator training courses, which educate operators according to the latest OSHA standards. Without passing these courses, you’re prohibited from driving a Toyota forklift. If you are interested in getting your forklift certification to click here. Well-trained operators are not only less likely to cause damage or injury but are more productive and satisfied with their jobs.

  • Step 2 – Learn the Equipment

You wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it first. Test drives can help you learn the controls of the vehicle, discover its accessories, and feel the maneuverability of the ride. The same goes for a forklift. Familiarize yourself with the equipment before being used. Not only should you know where all the controls are, but you should understand what each command does and the total capacity of the forklift. Never should you drive a forklift with the intention of lifting the weight without knowing the lift’s capacity.

  • Step 3 – Check Gas and Battery Before Operation

It’s imperative to check both the fuel and voltage levels before utilizing your forklift. Not doing so could cause fuel wastage – which is caused by the unnecessary idling of your forklift, machine malfunctions, or collateral damage to goods. To check your fuel and voltage levels, look for both gauges on the dashboard and assure either is adequate before use.

  • Step 4 – Assure Adequate Hydraulic Oil

Hydraulic oil is the lifeblood of a forklift. To learn how to fill and check your hydraulic fluid for your forklift, click here. Hydraulic oil allows any forklift to raise and lower its platform. Routinely checking your hydraulic oil will prevent accidents and reduce mechanical accidents.

  • Step 5 – Wear Your Seat Belt

Always wear your seat belt. It may sound elementary, but a lot of forklifts won’t move unless you fasten your seat belt. There could be plenty of times when your forklift has started but doesn’t run because the seat belt is not locked. We have come across a ton of stories from operators who tried jumping a perfectly fine forklift because they thought it was dead. Those types of incidents not only can cost you time and money but could cause injuries or series accidents. Before operating your forklift, please fasten the seat belt.

  • Step 6 – Easy The Brakes

Never slam your brakes hard or pulsate the brakes. When you have to stop, decelerate smoothly by allowing time to let go of the accelerator. Not doing so could cause tip-overs.

  • Step 7 – Don’t Sit Idle

If you wait for a load or a truck, please turn your engine if it’s likely to take longer than a minute. You will save fuel by not letting your vehicle sit idle.

  • Step 8 – Be Mindful of Floor Traffic

One of the most crucial aspects of operating a forklift is understanding your surroundings. First, you should ALWAYS yield to pedestrians, assume that your forklift can not be easily seen, and should sound your horn before going through an intersection or when first starting to move. Do not take for granted that pedestrians can see you. According to OSHA, there are still about 85 deaths a year caused by a forklift. The smallest of distractions can create the most significant problems.

For this reason, forklift operators must be free of any electronic devices and keep their hands on the control board at all times. Forklift operators should always keep their eyes focused in front of them, constantly surveying the area for potential hazards. Tactics like this are the most proactive measures in preventing workplace incidents.

  • Step 9 – Maintain Consistent Communication

Communication is the key to not only operating a forklift but successful teamwork with other operators. There are many methods of conveying intent while on a forklift. First, use lights and signals when approaching oncoming traffic and nearby personnel. Second, ensure your backup alarm is working. A backup alarm alerts all adjacent that the operator is backing up, and sometimes you are unable to see employees in blind spots. Finally, it’s essential to maintain verbal communication to ensure unison on any given project.

  • Step 10 – Ask for Help

There is no shame in asking for help. At TMHOH, we have a motto that we want everyone to go home with all their toes and fingers. Whether you need help unloading a skid, handling the machinery or lifting a large capacity, always ask for some assistance. Safety always comes first.


Those are our ten simple tips on how to operate a Toyota forklift. The best way to learn is practice, but following these ten tips can only help you become a stronger forklift operator. If you have any questions, concerns, or ideas, please contact us today!


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Want to make sure your Toyota keeps running like…well, a Toyota. That’s where the Toyota 360 support plan makes a difference for your company. It’s designed to save you money on forklift service, save you downtime, and save you headaches. Toyota 360 support provides full-circle maintenance for your forklift fleet.