TOPTREE | What Is a Safe Forklift Speed?


Forklifts are generally not associated with high speeds. Yet, because of their weight and the heavy loads they carry, they don’t have to go very fast to become unsafe. Improper steering can also cause safety problems. That’s why OSHA requires operators to be trained and certified in order to drive a forklift.

Safe Forklift Speed FAQs

Here are answers to common questions about how to drive a forklift at a safe speed.

Q: How do I control my forklift speed?

A: You can control the speed of your forklift by properly using the accelerator and brakes. In addition, you need to account for your work environment. For instance, an operator who is driving a lift on uneven terrain should take extra precautions to control their speed. This is due to the fact that their lift may be more susceptible to a tip-over on uneven terrain than level ground.

Q: How long does it take to stop a forklift at full speed?

A: The length of time required to stop a forklift traveling at full speed varies based on the lift, its load, and other factors. Generally, forklift operators should maintain a distance of at least 20 ft. (or the equivalent of three truck lengths) from bystanders, vehicles, and objects.

Q: How fast can a forklift go?

A: The speed of a forklift varies based on the model. Typically, forklifts can travel up to 18 mph.

Q: Is operating a forklift at a fast speed dangerous?

A: Absolutely! The faster a forklift operator drives, the less time he or she has to react to potential hazards. Driving too fast increases the risk of forklift accidents.

Q: What will happen if a forklift operator drives too fast and causes an accident?

A: A speeding accident is a serious problem. If a forklift accident occurs due to speeding, the driver will need to complete recertification training. Also, an employer may be subject to OSHA penalties.

How to Control Forklift Speed

Forklift operators are responsible for driving lifts at safe speeds. Here are things you can do to promote safe forklift driving across your jobsite:

——Post forklift speed limit signs where operators can easily see them. These serve as constant reminders to maintain safe speeds.

——Install forklift speed bumps. These help control speed by forcing trucks to come to a complete stop to pass over them. Place them in crosswalks, pathways, blind spots and areas with pedestrian traffic.

Install speed limiting devices on your forklifts. These prevent operators from speeding by controlling the truck’s throttle system. They do not reduce the full lifting power of the truck.

——Equip your forklifts with speed alarms. These alert operators when they go over the speed limit. Forklift speed alarms can be set up to create beeps when the forklift approaches the speed limit. When the operator exceeds the speed limit, the alarm will flash warning lights or create a loud siren noise.

forklift speed control system

Forklift Safety Best Practices

Enforcing forklift speed limits is a good start to avoid tip-overs and other types of lift accidents. You can also ensure that your workers use the following forklift safety best practices:

1. Always operate forklifts at a speed that allows stopping in a safe and controlled manner.

2. Drive slowly and with caution on wet, slippery floors.

3. Always watch your forklift max speed, and run your lift within allowable forklift speed limits.

4. Use extra caution on-ramps and graded surfaces.

5. Slow down and sound your horn when navigating intersections and blind spots.

6. Reduce speed around corners by turning the steering wheel in a smooth, sweeping motion.

7. Keep a reasonable distance between forklifts.



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