How to perform a proper forklift pre-use inspection

How to perform a proper forklift pre-use inspection

According to OSHA regulations, forklift inspections should be conducted on a daily basis at the start of the operator’s shift. It is the operator’s responsibility to fully inspect the forklift before it is placed into service and report any abnormalities to their supervisor. Operations that run multiple shifts are required to perform a pre-use inspection at the beginning of every shift.

A proper pre-use inspection consists of two parts:

  • Walk Around Inspection
  • Seated Inspection

Let’s take a closer look.

Walk Around Inspection

You may be asking yourself, what should I be checking when conducting a walk around inspection? Here’s a list of the things you should be checking:

  • Tires: Ensure the forklift’s tires are in good condition. Check for slashes, cuts and air pressure in pneumatic tires.
  • Hoses, Belts & Chains: Inspect these for excessive wear. Things to look out for are cracks, pinholes or leaks. SAFETY TIP: NEVER place your fingers inside the mast.
  • Fluid Levels: Check hydraulic fluid levels and ensure there are no leaks.
  • Engine / Power Source: Check engine in IC forklifts and check the power source in electric forklifts.
  • Forks, Backrest, Mast, & Overhead Guard: Check each piece for cracks, dents, broken welds or any other irregularities.
  • Data Plate & Labels: Ensure both the data plate and any warning labels are legible.

Seated Inspection

Now that you have completed the walk around inspection; let’s move onto the seated portion. Climb into your forklift using three points of contact. While seated check the following:

  • Seat Belt: Check the seat belt is in good condition and fasten it securely.
  • Gauges, Warning Lights, & Fuel Levels: Turn on your forklift and check the gauges, warning light and battery/fuel levels. You should ALWAYS be seated when you turn on a forklift. Do not attempt to start the engine while standing outside the forklift.
  • Safety Equipment: Check any safety equipment such as a safety lights to ensure they’re working properly.
  • Controls: Use the controls to lift/lower the forks and to tilt the mast and check they’re operating smoothly.
  • Horn: Honk to test your horn is working. Remember to always honk at intersections.
  • Brakes: Allow the forklift to move forward and then step on the brake to ensure it’s working smoothly and reliably.
  • Steering: Check the steering. Note that hard steering may reduce your control.
  • Parking Brake: Set and test the parking brake. Don’t forget to put the controls in neutral. At this time, get out of the forklift and check for leaks. Leaks can signal a hydraulic issue. Any fluid left on the floor could also result as a slipping hazard.
  • Exhaust System: Check to see if there are any sparks or flames coming from the exhaust and listen for any unusual sounds.

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of the forklift pre-use inspection as mandated by OSHA. If you didn’t spot any irregularities, you’re ready to get your shift started.

SAFETY NOTE: As always, if you notice any abnormalities during your forklift pre-use inspection, please report your concerns to your supervisor and flag the forklift until you have received clearance. Your safety and the safety of others always comes first.


Interested in earning your Forklift Certification? Doosan Material Handling Solutions offers forklift training once a month in the Buford, GA training facility for both new and experienced operators looking to renew their certification. Private forklift training sessions can also be scheduled at your site. For more info visit or email

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