Five Fascinating Forklift Facts

23 June 2020

The rugged forklift is the workhorse behind the movement of goods and materials in warehouses, but forklifts also play a big part in the construction industry. While they are both considered “forklifts”, they are substantially different. In construction, these rough terrain forklifts come equipped with booms, which makes it easier to lift loads without moving the vehicle. Forklifts typically used in warehouses need to be driven forward or backward to achieve the same results.

Some things you may not have known about forklifts.

  1. Forklift production and use exploded during World War II when it was imperative to transport weapons and armaments quickly. It was during this time that the four-way pallet was invented. Forklift use along with pallets was instrumental in creating the present-day warehouse model of narrow aisles equipped with high racks for material storage.
  2. Before September 30, 2003, forklift operators did not have to be 18 years old in the U.S. In 2002, Elaine Chao, Secretary of Labor, launched the YouthRules! Initiative to protect young workers. Prohibited forklift operation by workers under 18 is one of the outcomes of this initiative.
  3. From 2011 to 2017, 614 workers lost their lives in forklift-related incidents and more than 7,000 nonfatal injuries with days away from work occurred every year. In 2017, forklifts were involved in 9, 050 nonfatal workplace injuries or illnesses with days away from work. 1850 of these accidents involved pedestrians.
  4. Stolen forklifts have been used to steal ATM’s. News articles describing these crimes that occurred in 2019, 2018, 2017 all the way back to 2011. In 2020, there was a failed attempt to steal an ATM. Wonder if training would have helped?
  5. Rodeos aren’t just for cowboys. Forklift rodeos are held regularly across the United States. Their purpose is to give operators a chance to show off their skills by competing in challenging obstacle courses with prizes given to winners in each obstacle and an overall champion is declared.

In California, Cal-OSHA (California Occupational Safety and Health Administration) requires that their poster “Operating Rules for Industrial Trucks” be displayed where forklifts are in use. This poster is available in English and Spanish.

The latest revision is November 2018.

If you operate or supervise forklift operators, there are a few additional things you should know. Forklift operators must be trained. Mandatory training topics are found in federal or state OSHA regulations. In all cases, training is required every three years. To schedule forklift operator training or train-the-trainer training, please call Teddi at 714.717.9389 or email