Forklift maintenance has become an increasingly popular topic in recent years, generally aimed at extending the useful life of industrial equipment farther into the future. A very useful tool to employ towards this goal is a Forklift Maintenance Checklist. We’ve found that most of the information available on this topic confuses the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Daily Safety Checklist with this separate Maintenance Checklist, and so we set out to provide our clients with guidance on putting together their own Forklift Maintenance Checklist. In this article, we’ll briefly cover current motivating factors driving interest in forklift maintenance tips, clarify the difference between Daily and Maintenance checklists, and provide an example format to help you prepare your own Maintenance Checklist as well.
Today’s Heightened Role of Forklift Maintenance
Material handling business owners are faced with considerable challenges in today’s ever-changing world, where many new hurdles and opportunities alike emerge every day. New perspectives on how to navigate commercial volatility have emerged over the last few years, all of which emphasize increased preparation for whatever may arise in the near future. This heightened interest in planning for many disparate outcomes translates into business practices in a few key takeaways.
On one hand, businesses are investing more into maintaining and caring for their infrastructure, shoring up risk points associated with surprise failures, long lead times on repair parts, and rising new equipment financing costs. On the other hand, businesses are also taking strategic advantage of their existing assets to capitalize on market opportunities, drive higher efficiencies, and be less wasteful by reducing asset turnover and replacement. In both cases, companies are looking to do “more with less”, and one business workflow benefitting the most is equipment maintenance.
Many of our clients have recently expressed renewed interest in forklift maintenance, asking questions such as “what can we do to extend the life of our forklifts?” and “how do we make sure that our forklifts are operating safely as they age?”. In chatting with our clients on these topics, we realized that an expanded approach to forklift maintenance is due for discussion. Pulling from our award-winning experience in warehouse vehicle service and sales, as well as our many close partnerships with clients who share their direct perspectives and insights, we’d like to convey our thoughts on how you can best approach maintaining your warehouse vehicles below.
Telling Forklift Maintenance and Forklift Daily Checklists Apart
Forklift owners are required by federal Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) standards to provide operators with complete and thorough training specific to each type of lift that they will operate. An important part of this training centers on a daily set of checks required to be performed before every shift, which are commonly presented in the form of a Daily Forklift Checklist. Employers are expected to create their own checklists for each of their lift types (such as electric stand-up lifts, propane powered sit-down lifts, electric pallet walkers, etc.), as each vehicle has its own unique risks and requirements. OSHA even offers a series of Sample Daily Checklists, which can be found here and here.
The Daily Checklist mostly covers safety features and topics, and stands separate from a true maintenance checklist as you would find solely in the owner’s manual of your vehicle. To clarify the difference, let’s review a few example check points:
- Daily Checklist Items (Safety)
- Is the seatbelt present and in working order?
- Do the headlights function properly?
- Are there any signs of hydraulic fluid leaks on the floor below the lift?
- Factory Service Checklist Items (Maintenance)
- Measure and record tire tread depth.
- Inspect mast chain for broken links and wear. Degrease, clean, and re-lubricate. Replace chains after 5,000 hours.
- Check all engine fluid levels. Add fluids to fill line as needed. Flush fluids after 2,000 hours.
As we can see, Daily Checklist items are more operational and functional in nature, whereas Service/Maintenance Checklist items are much more technical. For most lifts, your Owner’s Operation and Maintenance manual should include a sample Maintenance Checklist specific to your lift. This list is ‘not’ rooted in safety topics and is ‘not’ provided by any third-party safety organization, including OSHA. Instead, this data is purely technical, conveying the requirements for qualified mechanics and technicians to evaluate, diagnose, maintain, service, and repair your lift’s electromechanical systems.
Performing a web search for ‘Forklift Checklist’, ‘Forklift Maintenance Checklist’, ‘Forklift Safety Checklist’, and other similar phrases all return versions of the same Daily Checklist described above. Actual maintenance information is difficult to find, though for understandable reasons. Maintenance requirements vary widely between manufacturers, models, and configurations, and can be hyper-specific to a given lift type or even individual vehicle. You might compare this to your personal automobile – general safety inspection information can be easily found in the owner’s manual, but detailed, technical service information is reserved for qualified mechanics in separate manuals. Even though this information is hard to come by, forklift owners should still understand the difference and role it plays in maintaining their warehouse vehicles.
Example Forklift Maintenance Checklist
Below we’ll provide a sample Forklift Maintenance Checklist template that you can use in developing your company’s list. The items listed below cover the general category of maintenance tasks that should be performed, but do not include any specific values or details as those would be specific to your vehicle(s). Readers should obtain their unique specifications, inspection frequencies, and other details either from their lift’s manual or in conversation with a qualified service provider such as Fairchild Equipment.
Note that some items in the below list will show a longer frequency than you may be used to seeing on the OSHA-driven Daily Safety Checklist. This is intentional. The Daily Checklist does require daily checks on many of the same items performed by the forklift operator before their shift, and documented for OSHA compliance. The separate Maintenance Checklist below is to be performed by maintenance technicians with the lift out of service, and as such, their frequency of checking these same items is less often when performed as part of technical service inspections.
We hope that this discussion on Forklift Maintenance has been helpful to your commercial material handling needs. Fairchild Equipment is the Upper Midwest’s premier Material Handling Equipment and Service resource, with headquarters in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and 11 locations in 5 states ready 24/7 to serve your needs. For more information or to discuss which Warehouse Optimization solution might be best for you, please visit, send us a message, or give us a call at (844) 432-4724.