forklift inspection checklist in action

Develop Your Own Daily Forklift Inspection Checklist

Having a daily inspection checklist as part of your routine will create a safer workplace and save you money.

Creating a pre-shift forklift inspection checklist has a number of benefits for your workplace and your employees. It reduces the guesswork of what forklifts or machines are ready for use and also can help reduce expenses through avoidable repairs.

Operation and Maintenance Manuals

Typically, your lift trucks’ Operation and Maintenance Manuals (OMM) will recommend the items that need inspection each day, which usually includes some of the following:
  • Any new damage
  • Signs of faulty operation or a deterioration in performance
  • Leaks from fuel or coolant
  • Functionality of optional forklift equipment such as lights

Creating a routine around a forklift daily checklist is vital to any application. A daily inspection should include a visual inspection as well as operational checks. Both the Cat® Lift Trucks and Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks Operation & Maintenance Manual provides the following guidelines for an inspection routine every ten service hours, or daily, whichever comes first. Following those interval guidelines, lift truck operators should run through the entirety of this checklist and log this data.

Systems and Components Included In A Daily Forklift Inspection Checklist

The daily inspection will be unique for a particular type and configuration of forklift and it will include a number of visual and operational checks of the various systems and components. Some of the examples that can be found in the Daily Forklift Inspection Checklist can be found below. The results of those checks should also be recorded and logged (more details below).


  • Faulty operation found the day before. Check the previous day’s inspection report to see if there were issues. If repairs were made, make sure they were done properly.
  • Oil, fuel or coolant leaks. Check on the floor for leaks.

Brake System

  • Brake hoses, pipes and joints.  Hoses, pipes and joints should be checked for damage, cracks and brake fluid/oil leaks.
  • Check your forklift’s brake fluid level. Be sure to park the lift truck on level ground when measuring the fluid level.
  • Brake pedal. Do you have sufficient pedal travel? Is the free play correct?
  • Parking brake lever. Can you pull the parking brake lever all the way with reasonable effort? Can you hold the lift truck on a grade by pulling the parking brake lever?
  • Parking brake system (for use with wet disc brake option). Check to see if the parking brake switch is operational and inspect the forklift’s parking brake force on level ground.
  • Check brake oil level (for use with wet disc brake option)

Forklift Cooling System

  • Check engine coolant level.
  • Do a visual inspection of the fan belt.

Electrical System

  • Electric wires. Visually inspect all electrical wires for any damage.
  • Headlight and working light (if equipped). Are all lights in working condition? Are the lenses clean?
  • Horn. Does the horn sound properly when pressed?
  • Stop lights. Do all of the forklift’s stop lights turn on when you press the brake pedal?
  • Icons of meter panel. Do all warning icons light up when tested?
  • Backup lights (if equipped). Do these turn on when the lift truck’s direction lever is in reverse?
  • Backup alarm. Make sure this sounds when the forklift is in reverse.
  • Check electrolyte level of battery (not required if battery type is maintenance free).
  • Mast interlock system. Follow the procedures for your specific model to ensure that the mast does not tilt forward or backward when the interlock system should engage.
  • Driving interlock system. Make sure the area is clear of pedestrians and follow your forklift models’ procedures to ensure that the driving interlock indicator is working and that the driving interlock system is functional.
  • Parking brake warning. Test the parking brake to check if the alarm and warning icon are functional.
  • Test the lift truck’s seat belt to see if the warning alarm and warning icon are functional.

Forklift Engine

  • Check the engine to see if exhaust smoke appears normal and that there is no abnormal noise or excessive vibration.
  • Check oil level (on a level surface).

Fuel System

  • Check fuel level to ensure you have enough fuel in your forklift for the shift.

Frame and Chassis

  • Load backrest extension. Is the load backrest extension free of distortion, cracks and other defects? Shake the load backrest extension to check for excessive rattle.
  • Overhead guard. Check the front and rear overhead guard mounting bolts on each side. Inspect overhead guard for bent or cracked sections.
  • Assist grips. Inspect the assist grip for damage or cracks and also check that it is firmly secured.
  • Seat belt. Check the webbing for cuts, fraying or wear. Check the buckle and latch for proper operation and any physical damage to the casing. Check the retractor web storage device operation to make sure that it retracts, spools and locks correctly.
  • Operator seat. Check that the lift truck’s operator seat is securely locked into place by adjusting the operator seat with the slide lever. Make sure that there is no looseness with the seat.

Hydraulic System

  • Check hydraulic oil level.

Mast and Forks

  • Tilt cylinder socket bolts. Are the bolts tightened properly?
  • Lift chains. Check for wear, ensure the forks are high enough to put their full weight on the carriage and chains, and check for equal tension.
  • Mast strip sliding surfaces. Inspect the mast strip sliding surfaces for wear and cracks.
  • Mast and forks. Does the mast move up and down smoothly when you operate the lift lever? Does the mast tilt forward and backward smoothly when you operate the tilt lever? Are there any oil leaks from the cylinders and hydraulic lines? Is the fork locking pin properly engaged? Are the forks free of distortion and cracks? Are the welds of the hangers free of cracks?
  • Lift cylinder mounting bolts. Check for looseness.

Front Axle, Rear Axle, and Steering System

  • Steering wheel and column. Check to see if the steering wheel is loose.
  • Wheel nuts. Any loose nuts should be tightened and any missing or damaged nuts should be replaced.
  • Tires and rims. Are all the tires free of cuts, gouges or foreign objects? Are all the rims free of distortion or cracks? Is the tread groove depth more than 5 mm (0.2 in.) when checked with a tire depth gauge?

Driving System

  • Accelerator pedal. Can you depress the accelerator pedal smoothly without any sign of rubbing?
  • Inching pedal. Is the free play correct?
  • Check transmission oil level. Make sure to operate the lift truck for a few minutes to warm the oil before checking.

Documenting the Daily Forklift Checklist Form

We recommend that each forklift inspection checklist be personalized to your specific needs rather than simply finding one online and copying it. It’s likely that your work environment has different conditions and your equipment or lift truck usage may vary substantially. One example would be including an inspection of the air filter and air cleaner if you are operating your forklifts in dusty operations.

Once the pre-shift inspection is completed, have your operators sign and date the forklift checklist form and give it to their supervisor. Once the supervisor fully reviews the inspection and notes any necessary repairs, the lift truck inspection form should be placed in the forklift’s file. Having these checklists on file could help you avoid citations if you are ever inspected by OSHA.

Creating a Culture of Safety

As valuable as forklift safety checklists can be for creating a safe working environment, it’s important to create a culture that encourages forklift operators to report all potential issues. Be sure to make it company policy that if operators find anything not in good working order, it must be reported.

When a forklift is discovered to have any issues, that could pose a safety concern with the forklift, it should be tagged in a very obvious manner (many operations use a red tag). The lift truck should be removed from service until all necessary repairs have been completed. Make it clear that safety and productivity both suffer if operators ignore their findings and try to get the forklift to work for "just one more shift."

If you would like assistance in creating the right inspection checklist and processes for your forklift or lift truck fleet, contact your local MCFA dealer


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