How to Properly Conduct a Pre-Shift Inspection

Pre-Shift Inspections Are Must for Every Shift

Your forklift is one of the most important parts of your warehouse. It helps you efficiently move thousands of pounds worth of products much faster than you would be able to without it. You can quickly load and unload shipping trucks with ease. You need these pieces of equipment to function at their highest levels to truly get the most out of them. After all, without your forklift, your warehouse’s productivity and bottom-line would take a significant hit.

It’s vital to the success of your business to have a functioning forklift on hand at all times, whether you buy or rent one. You can’t just have a forklift and just be okay. You must regularly maintain your equipment to ensure it can accomplish its tasks. Forklifts that need repair or are broken in any way are a danger to those in your warehouse and should be removed from service. There are countless ways you can ensure that a forklift is in the condition to complete a job. Arguably the most useful way of your forklift maintenance is through a pre-shift inspection.

Pre-shift inspections should be done before the start of every shift, no matter what kind of forklift you have. These inspections are the best way to ensure your forklift is ready to go and to discover if any issues need to be taken care of that would have otherwise threatened your employees and warehouse.

Ace Equipment understands the importance of maintaining your forklift, and that starts with a pre-shift inspection. Today, we are going to discuss the importance of these inspections and explain what you should be looking for.


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires you to inspect your forklift at least once a day before you put it in service. OSHA established these rules and regulations to protect all workers and warehouses. However, they also help you keep your forklifts in check, allowing you to ensure that your productivity and efficiency are not impacted. After all, a dysfunctional or broken forklift cannot do the job required of it, and they also threaten the safety of your workers.

OSHA requires the operator of a forklift to conduct a pre-shift inspection before a forklift is used every day. They must first start with a pre-start visual check and then move on to an operational check. If, for any reason, your forklift does not pass a pre-shift inspection, it should not be used.

Pre-Start Visual Check

The first part of every pre-shift inspection is a pre-start visual check. You should always conduct this check with the key turned off. You should examine a host of items during this visual check, including:

  • Fluids levels: oil, water, hydraulic fluid, and electrolyte levels (for electric forklifts)
  • Leaks, cracks, or any other visible damage
  • Tire condition, including tire pressure or cracking, chunking, or cuts
  • Condition of the forks and load backrest extension
  • Ensuring the safety plates and decals are in place, visible, and easy to read. Make sure the information on the decals matches the model
  • Operator manual
  • The operator compartment is safe and free of debris
  • Safety devices, such as seatbelts, are in good condition and functional

The majority of these items should be checked on all forklifts. However, some items are specific to certain forklift types, such as electric and internal combustion forklifts.

  • Electric: Make sure cables and connectors do not have any frayed or exposed wires. Examine battery restraints, hood latch, and electrolyte levels.
  • Internal Combustion: Make sure engine oil, brake reservoir, and engine coolant levels are maintained. Inspect the air filter, belts, and hoses to make sure they are in good shape. Examine the radiator, as well.
  • Liquid Propane: Make sure your tank is mounted correctly, and that your pressure relief valve is pointed up. Inspect your hoses, connectors, and tank restraint brackets. Ensure your tank doesn’t have any damage and fits within your forklift’s profile. Make sure there are no leaks.

Operational Inspection

The next aspect of your pre-shift inspection is the operational inspection. This is similar to the visual check, but the engine must be running during the operational inspection. With the engine running, you must examine:

  • Any accelerator leakage
  • If included, inch control
  • Brakes
  • Steering
  • Forward and reverse drive control
  • Forward and reverse tilt control
  • Hoist and lowering control
  • Attachment control
  • Horn, lights, and back-up alarm (if equipped)
  • Hour meter

After you have completed your pre-start visual check and operational inspection, always remember to document these inspections frequently. OSHA does not require you to document these inspections, but it is always a good practice to keep track of them. By doing so, this allows you to provide proof of inspection to OSHA if they visit your warehouse for inspection. They also let you keep track of any issues discovered and keeps your employees responsible. Your employees should know how to conduct these inspections if they went through forklift certification.

Additionally, it is always good practice to conduct a post-shift inspection, as well. You should inspect all the same areas as you did during your pre-shift inspection. This allows you to find any issues that may have developed during your shift.

At Ace Equipment, we understand the importance of maintaining your forklift. By doing so, you ensure that your forklift can provide you and your business with the efficient service required to keep your warehouse up and running. Arguably one of the greatest ways to maintain your forklift is by conducting a pre-shift inspection before you operate your vehicle. This allows you to discontinue the use of a broken or defective machine. If you are interested in renting or purchasing a forklift or need forklift maintenance, contact Ace Equipment today.