Forklift hand signals are useful for directing forklift operators as they transport and move loads on a forklift. Using simple, easy hand signals, a supervisor can ensure the operator carries out their job quickly, safely, and efficiently. Let’s take a look at the safety benefits of forklift hand signals now, and discuss how proper signaling can help you avoid forklift accidents.
7 Main Types Of Signals And What They Mean
There are 7 main types of forklift hand signals, including the following:
- Move tines in a specific direction – This is usually done by pointing the index finger to the left or right.
- Lower tines – In this signal, the arm and hand are moved downward with the palm facing the ground. This signal instructs the operator to lower the forklift tines.
- Raise tines – In this signal, the spotter points upward with their index finger and spins their hand. This instructs the operator to raise the forklift tines.
- Tilt mast back – In this signal, the spotter moves their arm toward their head with the thumb extended until the arm is at a 90-degree angle. This signal instructs the operator to tilt the mast (also called “upright” or “load lifter) backward.
- Tilt mast forward – In this signal, the spotter moves their arm and hand downward while pointing down with their thumb. This signal instructs the operator to tilt the mast forward.
- Dog everything – In this signal, both hands clutch the opposing wrists at the waist. This instructs the forklift operator to pause what they are doing.
- Stop – In this signal, both arms are extended fully outward with the palms facing down. This signals an emergency stop, so the forklift operator must stop their operations immediately.
Why Are Forklift Hand Signals Important?
Forklift hand signals are important for a few primary reasons. With consistent signal use and proper safety training, your organization will be able to:
- Increase safety – Forklifts cause a lot of accidents, including 85 deaths per year and up to 34,900 serious injuries. With proper forklift hand signal use, you can increase safety and keep your team members safe while they conduct day-to-day operations.
- Boost productivity – Signal use helps your forklift operators do their jobs more effectively, eliminating guesswork and easing the difficulties of managing tough loads.
- Standardize operations – Consistent, standardized hand signal use will help you standardize your operations and streamline your facility, leading to enhanced efficiency.
What is The Role Of A Spotter?
The spotter is the person responsible for issuing hand signals and instructions to the forklift operator. It’s important to understand that spotters should never look at the forklift operator while spotting – but rather, should always pay attention to the load on the forklift.
The spotter also must stand in a safe area where the forklift operator can see them clearly, and acknowledge that the signals have been seen and understood.
Requirements For Forklift Operation
Forklifts have a few basic requirements for safe, OSHA-compliant operation. The individual operating a forklift must be:
- 18 years or older
- Certified for forklift operation by OSHA-compliant training
- Retrained every 3 years with OSHA-compliant training
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