Forklift Hand Signals to Improve Safety

Workers use forklift hand signals to communicate in busy and noisy environments. Spotters often need to help direct operators as the forklift moves loads or stacks and removes items. Established hand signals ensure safety in the workplace. Keeping all workers on the same page also reduces confusion and the risk of dangerous incidents.

The Main Uses of Forklift Hand Signals

These hand signals improve safety on the job. Here are some of the most common forklift hand signal uses:

  • Directing operators through aisles or tight corners
  • Letting operators know when it is safe to move forward or backward
  • Communicating with spotters
  • Telling forklift operators which way to turn
  • Letting forklift operators know when it’s time to pick up or lower a forklift load

The 7 Main Forklift Hand Signals

Spotters need to know all seven hand signals to direct operators safely. However, all workers on site should know the emergency stop, even workers who do not usually work in the warehouse.

Dog Everything

Clasp your hands together at the waist. This signals to the operator that they need to pause operations. Common reasons include someone walking by or an incoming phone call from the floor manager.

Emergency Stop

Extend both arms outward with your palms facing downward. It signals to the forklift operator that they need to stop operations immediately. This is the most important of all forklift hand signals.

Lower the Tines

Extend your right arm straight outward with your palm facing the ground. Gradually lower your arm, bringing it closer to your side, until the tines are as low as you desire.

Raise the Tines

Extend your right arm outward. Then, bend your elbows and extend your pointing finger into the air. Move your hand in a circular motion until the tines reach the correct height.

Tilt the Mass Forward

Extend your right arm outward. Then, bend your elbows and point your thumb in the air. Continue to bend your arm inward, bringing your thumb closer to your head, until the mass is at the correct tilt. You may need to do this more than once.

Tilt the Mass Backward

Extend your right arm outward with your thumb pointed downward. Lower your arm, bringing your thumb closer to your side, until the mass is at the correct tilt. You may need to repeat the movement.

How To Get Spotters To Use Forklift Hand Signals

Some workers might feel they do not need to know the hand signals because they have other communication devices. These are helpful devices for communication, but workers should never become so reliant on these tools that they forget or ignore the OSHA-approved hand signals.

Before operating forklifts, employees must have training on hand signals. Spotters should review the signals regularly and know what each one means. It’s also good for forklift operators and spotters to practice the signs to ensure effective communication. Finally, forklift operators should follow the hand signals correctly and not take any unnecessary risks.

The Value of Forklift Hand Signals

Hand signals protect your inventory, your workers, and the machinery. Even so, mistakes do happen. Errors involving ignored or misunderstood forklift hand signals commonly lead to damage, which may require you to purchase replacements. At Industrial Forklift Truck, we help you compare new and used equipment from local dealers.

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