Forklift Driver Job Description: Operator’s Duties & Responsibilities

I am sure you are wondering what is the typical job description of a forklift operator?

Have you ever worked in a warehouse and seen those forklift operators effortlessly navigate the floor and move pallets with ease?

Have you ever wondered what would it take to become that person behind the forklift?

If you answered yes, then you are in the right place! In this article, we will explore the ins and outs of being a forklift driver and what is the typical forklift operator job description to make sure you are up for the job.

First, we will investigate the personal qualities that a fork lift operator must have in order to be successful at his/her job. If you can check off most of the items on this article, then you can be sure that you are well on your way to a new and exciting career in forklift operating.


Forklift Operator Job highlights

  • On average, forklift drivers make around $15 per hour.
  • An experienced forklift driver can make up to $20 per hour.
  • You’ll need to get a certification to drive a fork lift.

The Person Behind the Forklift

Being a fork lift operator is much more than just obtaining your forklift license and starting the job, although that is the first step. An operator has many responsibilities not only to the company he/she is working for, but also to OSHA.

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is a branch of the United States Department of Labor that assures a safe and organized work environment.

As stated on their website’s mission statement, OSHA provides and enforces standards by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance. Putting safety first when on the job is the main trait a forklift operator must have before anything else.

An operator needs to be trusted to carry out his/her duties in a safe manner and in compliance with OSHA and company policies. When you accept a job you need to make sure that you know company policies and regulations so that you can be in compliance with your company as well as OSHA.

Another important aspect to have in this job is staying organized and keeping track of materials and inventory, this is crucial to maintaining and accounting for materials on hand. After safety, one of the big traits that are important to this job is the ability to be able to communicate well with others.

A lack of communication can not only be a waste of time but can be downright dangerous when handling this type of machinery. Flexibility is also a big plus, as work hours can vary from warehouse to warehouse usually based on delivery times, and may have to work off hours such as overnight and weekends.

One should also be prepared to work in a variety of different environments as forklift drivers work inside warehouses and outside in ports and yards as well. Once you are sure to have these traits, we can move on to the many duties that come with the job.

Forklift operator responsibilities

Job offers for forklift operators in last 12 months. (Source: JobisJob)

Forklift Operator Duties and Responsibilities

In addition to always having safety on their minds, fork lift drivers have many duties they are expected to know how to complete. To uphold safety standards and to be a good role model for fellow employees is the first and most important duty.

Other duties of a forklift driver include keeping your work area clean, taking care of your forklift, making sure you have all the supplies you need, managing inventory, and helping with deliveries.

Once you know the basic duties of the warehouse then you are ready to learn what it takes to operate a fork lift. All of these job aspects are important parts of the job and are required by most employers.

All of these forklift driver duties may or may not be expected of you in the field but are good to know because in the event that a new situation arises you will be ready to tackle it with confidence. Here are some of the common job descriptions of the forklift operator.

1. Be a Beacon of Safety

First off not only do you need to make sure that you are in compliance with OSHA and company safety standards, a forklift operator must be vigilant of other workers in the field. By setting the bar high in the safety category, you set a good example for others to follow.

Keeping up with new ordinances and letting your coworkers know of any new changes can make a work environment safer. Wearing the proper safety gear can also protect you in the event of the accident.

Be sure to wear a hardhat, shoes with reinforced toes and a bright colored vest or shirt to your first day on the job to show you take safety seriously.

Also, any mishaps should be immediately reported to management and/or OSHA not only for your safety but for the safety of the entire workplace.

Forklift operator duties

Safety comes first in forklift drivers job description.

2. Keep Up With Clutter

Keeping up with and cleaning up clutter as you see it on the work floor ensures a debris-free and safe work environment. An employee walking the floor may have the ability to easily see debris on the floor. The same employee on a forklift doesn’t have the same field of vision, especially with a large load, and may hit it.

Before you start driving it is a good idea to walk along the fork lift paths and check for anything out of place. If you see something just take a moment and move it, by taking care of the problem now you avoid a bigger problem later.

Although if you do see debris in your way when you are carrying a load, make sure to put your machine in the park and turn it off before moving it out of the way.

A clean workplace is a productive workplace, not only for you but for everyone in the work environment. You can really focus on your job more without having to constantly worry about tripping over clutter.

3. Servicing Forklifts

Forklifts need to be checked regularly and before every shift for malfunctions or just general maintenance. A forklift operator must apply what was learned in training to be able to troubleshoot any problems that may arise. There are many different types of forklifts so it can get confusing on what to check for.

OSHA has a detailed guide that you can access by clicking here that will make it easy for you to prevent, find and address any malfunctions on any type of fork lift.

Any mechanical errors that are found must be reported to the manager on duty so that it can be addressed and fixed in a timely manner. Always be sure to give your forklift a quick once over before you operate to make sure everything is in working order.

Also, some forklifts will need to be refueled so check with your supervisor of how and when he/she would like you to fill them up. Keeping your fork lifts properly maintained will ensure your safety and also increase the lifespan of the forklift, keeping it running smoothly for years to come.


4. Managing Inventory of Supplies Needed

There are many supplies needed to efficiently run a forklift on a day to day basis. These supplies could include anything from packing supplies, safety items to tools needed to repair your forklift and more.

Keeping an inventory of these supplies and recording the amount of materials on hand assures that you will always have what you need to complete a job.

If you find you are getting low on any items you need then you need to be sure to notify managers so that you can get them ordered before you run out.

Fork lift job description

Forklift operator job description involves maintaining accurate record of inventory and stock.

5. Keeping Count of Cargo in the Warehouse

A forklift operator must know what she/he has on hand and know exactly when and where each pallet of materials needs to be moved to. Following the instruction and putting materials in their proper place is crucial, so that when you need to move a piece you can find it quickly.

The other way you can be sure to keep track of the cargo is to properly record it in a log that you can later reference to find it quickly. Warehouses this day in age keep track of inventories by using handheld computers and barcodes.

The way this works is that packages will have barcodes taped to them and the employee will scan them with a handheld to gather information about the product. This process does two things: tells the employee where it needs to go and keeps a log of how many of that particular item is on hand.

This system can be accessed for future reference and by management to track the movement of product throughout the warehouse. This is the part of the job that requires excellent organizational skills and to be efficient with different types of software and handheld computers.

6. Overseeing Deliveries

In a warehouse setting, there is a lot of product going in and out on a daily basis. Checking materials in and out is crucial to keep product moving at a steady pace.

The first step to accepting a delivery is to help unload from the truck and load onto a pallet. Next is to verify the shipment and make sure all boxes are accounted for and to accept it.

Once you have taken the load in you are ready to scan your product to see where you are moving it to. This part of the job requires a lot of bending and lifting so you need to be sure that you are physically able to handle this job as it can be demanding.

Certain packages will be too heavy for one person to handle and will be indicated on the box that two people are needed to lift it. Whenever you see this warning label make sure to grab a coworker or wait for the delivery driver to help you so that you don’t hurt yourself.

Communication with the delivery driver and being able to read the labels is also a part of the job, so being mostly fluent in English is necessary. With good teamwork and communication, processing a delivery can be quick and easy.

Forklift drivers job description

Finally, forklift operator job description involves operating the forklift.

7. Operating the Forklift

Once you assure that your warehouse is safe, stocked and organized now you can get to moving materials. Before starting your forklift make sure your mirrors and your seat are adjusted to your height and always buckle up.

Every piece of cargo has a designated place in the warehouse, before picking up the materials you need to identify what it is and where it goes.

There often times will be taped or painted paths on the warehouse floor that shows you where you can drive and it is important that you stay in those lanes. Also make sure that your load is safe and secure and that you drive at a reasonable pace, taking stops and turns slowly so not to drop any cargo.

A forklift driver must always have a game plan before carrying out the task, so that the duty can be completed safely and efficiently. A lost and unfocused forklift operator driving aimlessly around the work area can cause chaos and confusion within the work environment.

Most of the time managers will have a plan of all of the deliveries and shipments that come in. This assures that materials can be moved and put in its proper place, quickly and smoothly.

If you ever have to get out of your fork lift never, under any circumstances, should you leave a forklift in the on position and unattended!

Also being very careful not to damage items is crucial, know what you are carrying and pay attention to warning labels affixed to boxes. Most importantly always be aware of your surroundings, the absolute last thing you want to do is crash into something, or worse… someone.

As long as you have quick reflexes and stay in your boundaries, operating a forklift should be achievable.

Check how to write a perfect forklift operator resume to increase your chances of landing your dream job.

In Conclusion

These are the main forklift operator job descriptions. There are many responsibilities associated with the job of being a fork lift operator. Safety is the utmost priority and should be on the mind of every forklift driver at all times. One must also be organized in order to maintain correct inventory and make sure every load is where it needs to be.

Being a team player is necessary to this job so that the whole warehouse is working together and running as smoothly as possible. Now that you are armed with the knowledge and confidence, you will hopefully be able to obtain a job and stay in the field for the long-haul.

Being a forklift operator may not be for everyone, but with the right personal traits and knowledge of the field it is certainly achievable.

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Comments →

  1. I.A.Aakif

    Forklift vacancy

  2. Monday Omoregbe


  3. L.d. nuwan champika

    I am from sri lanka i heven experienced 6years forkilift driver or excavator i am work in oman6years my company oman flour mills

  4. L.d. nuwan champika

    I am from sri lanka 32old 6years experienced in oman flour mills company

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