10 Tips to Become a Better Forklift Operator

Getting your forklift driver qualifications is the crucial first step to becoming a forklift operator – but there’s more to it than just that.

Once you’re fully trained and authorised to drive the vehicles, there are certain things you can work on that separate the good drivers from the very best.

Here are ten key traits that will make you a top quality forklift driver.


1. Practice

If you want to be good at something you’ve got to practice, and it’s exactly the same for operating a forklift. Keeping on top of your skills will give you confidence in your role and in your truck. Don’t underestimate how much of an impact a strong mindset can have on your abilities.

2. Do Your Checks

As well as keeping yourself on top of your game, you should be looking after your truck in the same way. Don’t just take it for granted that a forklift you’re about to operate is in full working order. Checking over the equipment before each use will make your life much easier and avert unforeseen mechanical problems.

3. Take Safety Measures

It sounds obvious, but looking out for your own safety, as well as the people around you, is absolutely crucial. Always stay aware of your surroundings – things like other vehicles, movable materials and workplace speed and height limits should all be considered.

4. Reduce Distractions

It’s a fine line to walk, but being alert to what’s going on around you shouldn’t come at the expense of your concentration. Don’t get distracted or lose focus unnecessarily. You’re driving a big piece of machinery that can be dangerous if misused, so always pay attention to the task at hand.

5. Wear the Right Gear

There will likely be a company policy for workwear anyway, but it’s always worth thinking about how you can be seen and be safe. At a minimum this will likely include sturdy steel toe cap boots and a hi-vis jacket or vest, as well as gloves, helmets and ear-protectors where necessary.

6. Know Your Truck’s Capabilities

Always make sure you are aware of a particular truck’s capabilities – what it can and can’t do. For example, don’t overload the weight or drive it where it shouldn’t go. If you aren’t sure your truck can lift a certain amount or if it should be in a particular environment, then question it. Your colleagues and supervisors would much rather you ask them first instead of causing an incident.

7. Communicate

A forklift might only have one driver at a time, but you’re still part of a larger team. Regular communication between you and your colleagues will reduce accidents and make for more efficient operations. Let relevant people know what you are doing or if you need help. Others will soon follow your lead and do the same, making it a habit for everybody at your workplace.

8. Plan Ahead

Organise your day so you are well prepared. Having a general idea of what is on your agenda for an upcoming shift and for the week ahead will make things easier for yourself and for everybody else in your team.

9. Be Adaptable

This might seem to fly in the face of the last point, but you should also be flexible and adaptable with your time. A busy workplace can change in an instant, so you should be ready to react or change your schedule accordingly.

10. Stay Calm

Finally, try to remain patient and calm in the workplace. Getting stressed out or panicking under pressure can lead to accidents, so don’t go rushing around or cutting corners at the expense of doing the job properly. This is easier said than done in the heat of the moment, which is why the previous points are always worth bearing in mind. The more prepared and confident you are in your role, the more you’ll be able to handle whatever jobs come your way.

What Makes a Good Forklift Operator?

As you can see, there is no magic formula or secret technique to becoming a great forklift truck driver. It’s all about doing the little things correctly so they become more than the sum of their parts.

Forklifts are becoming better and better by the year, and although all TCM trucks are fully equipped with the latest safety features and are designed for maximum efficiency, working on your own skills and capabilities is still important.

It can be easy to forget everything you learnt during your training and slip into bad habits as you become a more experienced driver, so bear these ten traits in mind and you won’t go far wrong.