Best Practices for Forklift Refueling

Forklifts are one of the mechanisms that power our warehouses, construction sites, and factories. We must ensure they have the power they need to keep going. This is more than just making sure there is enough propane or gas in your forklift’s tank. You need to make sure that you and your operators are following best practices for forklift refueling.

Safety Precautions

Propane, gasoline, and diesel fuel are considered hazardous materials, so taking safety precautions is essential before even beginning the refueling process.

Safe Surroundings

Because forklift fuels emit carbon monoxide, the best practice for refueling a forklift is to work in a well-ventilated area. Forklift fuel is also highly flammable. The area must be free of anything that could cause a spark. In case of a fire, facilities should store fire extinguishers in accessible, clearly marked spots near refueling areas. Never use water to put out a propane fire.

Proper Protection

Another potential hazard of working with fuel is direct contact with skin or eyes. Because of the nature of liquefied gases like propane, direct contact with the skin can lead to frostbite, and contact with the eyes can lead to burns. Although diesel fuel and gasoline are unlikely to cause frostbite, contact can lead to skin absorption, which is also harmful. Operators should always wear sturdy gloves and protective eyewear when refueling.

Best Practices During Refueling


Begin by parking, lowering the forks to the ground, and turning the forklift off. Then, disconnect the fuel line of the propane tank and remove the tank from the forklift to refill it. Attempting to refill the tank when it is still on the back of the forklift can post several safety hazards to the operator and can damage the forklift. Instruct operators to conduct a quick visual inspection of the tank itself before refueling to check for leaks and an expiration date.

Diesel and Gasoline

You should refuel diesel engines daily. Operating a forklift with low fuel can lead to the sediment at the bottom of the fuel tank entering a forklift’s engine, causing damage. When refueling, make sure you put the vehicle into park, lower the forks, and turn the vehicle completely off. Operators should avoid smoking while refueling as well.

Refueling is a small part of an operator’s day, but a big part of any facility or work site’s operations. Here at Toyota Material Handling Ohio, we are ready to provide your facility with the quality used Toyota forklifts that it needs, plus the knowledge to care for them.