Top 10 Tips for Safely Operating Telehandlers on the Job

Top 10 Tips for Safely Operating Telehandlers on the Job


A telehandler is one of the most frequently used tools and most versatile pieces of equipment on a job site. Whether you need to lift, move or place material, it’s an ideal choice.

Though your telehandler is capable of many things, it’s important to remember that the machine has limitations. Operating the telehandler safely will allow you take advantage of the machine’s multi-purpose capabilities, without pushing past its limits.

Follow these simple operating tips to help reduce the risk of incidents and keep your telehandler performing productively day in and day out.


1. Be Properly Trained

Proper training (both general training and hands-on practical training) on the telehandler you will be using is essential. This includes thoroughly reading the operator’s manual and safety signs on the machine, as well as understanding the function and location of all safety devices and controls before beginning operation.


2. Follow Safety Rules and Regulations

Read, understand and obey all safety rules and work site regulations. That includes any applicable local, governmental or provincial regulations that apply to the telehandler operation.


3. Inspect & Test Your Telehandler

Perform a pre-operation inspection and function tests on the telehandler before each work shift. If there is anything wrong with the machine or a malfunction is discovered, make sure it is immediately tagged and removed from service until it can be repaired by a qualified service technician.


4. Be Aware of Hazards

Perform a workplace hazard assessment prior to moving the telehandler to the job site. Be aware of and avoid hazards such as drop-offs and holes, slopes, slippery or unstable surfaces, overhead obstacles, power lines and any other hazards that may exist and develop a plan to avoid those hazards through all phases of machine operation.


5. Use the Proper Load Capacity Chart

Do not operate a telehandler without the proper load capacity chart (i.e. load chart). It’s critical that the load chart in the telehandler matches the machine and the attachment you’re using before lifting the load. Load charts should always be clearly legible and visible to you while you are in the normal operating position.


6. Know Your Load

Make sure that the weight and center of gravity of the load does not exceed the telehandler’s or attachments maximum capacity according to the load chart. Evaluate the dimensions of the load to determine proper load handling techniques. Always secure the load to minimize the potential for falling debris.


7. Follow Guidelines for Lifting Personnel and Suspended Loads

Remember that there are additional restrictions placed on the operator, owner and user of the equipment when using a telehandler to lift personnel and suspended loads. Always refer to the ANSI/ITSDF B56.6 standard, OSHA Regulations, and the telehandler and attachment, manufacturer’s instructions regarding the additional requirements and operating instructions for these applications.


8. Wear Your Seat Belt

Always wear your seat belt while operating the telehandler. Adjust the seat and steering wheel so that you can easily reach all of the machine controls. Adjust side and cab mirrors to maximize visibility.


9. Pay Attention to the Stability Triangle

Ensure that the combined center of gravity of the telehandler and the load always remains within the stability triangle. Good operating habits that can help are:

  • Make sure the chassis is level before handling a load and never using the sway feature with an elevated load
  • Keep the boom and load as low as possible during travel
  • Operate the machine at speeds that will keep the machine and load under control at all times


10. Be Prepared for a Tip Over

Do not jump from the machine if your telehandler tips over. Remain in the cab, stay in the seat with your seat belt fastened and brace for impact by grasping the steering wheel and leaning away from the point of impact.

Keep these tips in mind, and you will be able to prevent incidents from happening while operating a telehandler on any job site.

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