How Often Should Operators Inspect Their Forklift

Forklifts, often referred to as powered industrial trucks, play a crucial role in various industries, making material handling tasks efficient and streamlined. However, the safety of both the operators and the workplace relies heavily on regular forklift inspections and maintenance. Neglecting forklift inspections can lead to accidents, breakdowns, and operational inefficiencies.

In this blog, we’ll delve into the importance of forklift inspections, provide guidance on how often operators should inspect their forklifts, and offer a comprehensive forklift inspection checklist.

Importance of Forklift Inspections

Forklifts are powerful machines designed to lift and transport heavy loads, but they also pose significant safety risks if not properly maintained. Regular forklift inspections are a critical component of forklift safety and overall workplace safety. Here are some compelling reasons why operators should prioritize forklift inspections:

Safety First

Forklifts are involved in numerous workplace accidents each year. Regular inspections help identify and address potential safety hazards before they cause accidents, preventing injuries and fatalities.


OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) mandates that forklifts undergo regular inspections. Non-compliance can result in hefty fines and legal consequences.

Cost Savings

Routine inspections and maintenance tasks can extend the lifespan of your forklift, reducing the need for costly repairs and replacements.

Operational Efficiency

A well-maintained forklift operates more efficiently, reducing downtime and increasing productivity.


How Often Should Operators Inspect Their Forklift?

The frequency of forklift inspections depends on several factors, including how often the forklift is used, the type of environment it operates in, and the manufacturer’s recommendations. In general, there are three main types of forklift inspections:

Daily or Pre-Shift Inspections

Operators should perform a pre-shift inspection every day before using the forklift. This ensures that the forklift is in safe working condition and ready for operation.

Periodic Inspections

These inspections are conducted at regular intervals, typically every month or quarterly, depending on the forklift’s usage and the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Annual Inspections

An in-depth inspection is conducted by a qualified technician or mechanic, usually once a year, to assess the forklift’s overall condition and compliance with safety regulations.

Daily or Pre-Shift Inspection

The pre-shift inspection is a crucial daily routine that operators must follow before operating a forklift. This inspection helps identify any immediate safety concerns and ensures the forklift is ready for work. Here is a basic forklift inspection checklist for pre-shift inspections:

Check the Forklift Inspection Checklist

Ensure that the forklift inspection sheet is available and up to date. Record any issues discovered during the inspection.

Visual Inspection

Examine the forklift for visible damage, such as engine oil leaks, cracks, or loose components. Pay particular attention to the tires, forks, and hydraulic system.

Fluid Levels

Check engine oil, hydraulic fluid, coolant, and brake fluid levels. Top off any fluids that are low.

Controls and Gauges

Test all controls and gauges to ensure they are functioning correctly. This includes the steering, brakes, accelerator, horn, and lights.

Safety Features

Verify that safety features are working, such as the parking brake, seatbelt, and backup alarm.


Inspect the forks for any signs of wear, damage, or misalignment. Make sure they are securely attached.


Check tire pressure and condition. Damaged or under-inflated tires can affect stability and load handling.

Load Backrest Extension

Ensure that the load backrest extension is in good condition and securely attached.

Lift Chains

Examine the lift chains or hydraulic hoses for signs of wear, damage, or leaks.

Exhaust System

Check for any exhaust leaks or unusual noises.

Load Capacity Plate

Ensure that the load capacity plate is visible and legible. Do not exceed the specified load limits.

Fuel or Battery

Check the fuel level or battery charge to ensure there is enough power for the shift.
Any issues discovered during the pre-shift inspection should be reported to a supervisor immediately and noted on any forklift inspection sheets, and the forklift should not be operated until the necessary repairs or maintenance tasks are completed.


Periodic and Annual Inspections For Powered Industrial Trucks

In addition to daily pre-shift inspections, a forklift and powered industrial truck should undergo periodic and annual inspections. These inspections are typically conducted by qualified technicians or mechanics who are familiar with forklift maintenance. The frequency of periodic inspections may vary based on factors such as forklift usage, environmental conditions, and manufacturer recommendations in the operator’s manual.

During periodic inspections, the technician will conduct a more in-depth assessment of the forklift, including:

  1. Functional Tests: Checking the functionality of critical components and systems.
  2. Load Tests: Ensuring that the forklift can safely handle its rated load capacity.
  3. Structural Inspection: Assessing the integrity of the forklift’s structure and frame.
  4. Brake Inspection: Checking the braking system for wear and effectiveness.
  5. Steering and Suspension: Inspecting the steering and suspension components.
  6. Electrical Systems: Verifying the condition of the electrical system, including wiring and connectors.
  7. Hydraulic System: Checking the hydraulic system for leaks and proper operation.
  8. Exhaust Emissions: Ensuring compliance with emissions standards (if applicable).

Annual inspections are even more comprehensive and may include disassembling certain components for a thorough examination.



Operators must prioritize forklift inspections as an integral part of forklift safety and maintenance. Regular inspections, including daily pre-shift checks and periodic or annual assessments, help identify and address safety concerns, ensuring that forklifts remain in good working condition and comply with regulatory requirements.

Forklift operators play a crucial role in this process by conducting daily pre-shift inspections and promptly reporting any issues. Employers should also ensure that periodic and annual inspections are carried out by qualified technicians to maintain a safe and efficient working environment.

By adhering to a comprehensive forklift inspection checklist and following manufacturer recommendations, companies can reduce the risk of accidents, improve operational efficiency, and extend the lifespan of their forklifts. Remember, forklift safety begins with regular inspections and maintenance tasks, ultimately benefiting both operators and the overall workplace.