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 10 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 educates operators according to the latest OSHA standards. Without passing these courses, you are prohibited from driving a Toyota forklift. If you are interested in getting your forklift certification 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, right? Test drives can help you learn the controls of the car, discover its accessories, and feel the maneuverability of the ride. The same goes with a forklift. Familiarize yourself with the equipment before being used. Not only should you know where all the controls are, but you should know what each control does and the total capacity of the forklift. Never ever should you drive a forklift with the intentions of lifting 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 prior to 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 the seat belt is fastened. There could be plenty of times when your forklift has started but doesn’t run because the seat belt is not fastened. We have come across a ton of stories from operators who tried jumping a perfectly fine forklift because they thought it was dead. Those type 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 have to wait for a load or a truck, turn your engine off 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 biggest problems. For this reason, it is essential that forklift operators are 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 most proactive measure 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 in close proximity 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 sham for 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 10 simple tips on how to operate a Toyota forklift. The best way to learn is practice, but following these 10 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.