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21 Forklift Hand Signals All Forklift Drivers Need to Know

by Carllaen Joshua Gonzales 14 Apr 2024 0 Comments

Forklift operation requires not only technical skills but also effective communication. However, this could be a problem in noisy workspaces where verbal communication is difficult. Forklift hand signals are among the best ways to communicate when using a forklift, so we'll go over all you need to know about them in this forklift guideLet's get started!

OSHA forklift hand signals

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established guidelines that requires the use of hand signals as one of the safety procedures during forklift operation. With the help of a spotter, these guidelines ensure the safety of all workers in the area and to prevent accidents.

forklift hand signals

    All forklift operators and pedestrians should be familiar with the OSHA-approved hand signals before operating a forklift. Basic forklift hand signals include the following:

    1. Tilt Fork Up - The hand is raised with the fingers pointing upwards and the palm facing out, signaling to tilt the forks of the forklift upwards.
    raise the tines hand signal
    2. Tilt Fork Down - The hand is lowered with the fingers pointing downwards and the palm facing out, indicating to tilt the forks of the forklift downwards.
    lower the tines hand signal
    3. Boom Down - The thumb is pointing downwards with the fingers curled into a fist, signaling to lower the boom (or mast) of the forklift.
    tilt mast forward hand signal
    4. Boom Up - The thumb is pointing upwards with the fingers curled into a fist, indicating to raise the boom (or mast) of the forklift.
    tilt mast back hand signal
    5. Shift the Tines Left or Right - This hand signal directs the operator to adjust their tines more to the left or right. This change in position allows the forklift to better distribute the weight from its load or adjust the material before placing it.
    shift tines left/right hand signal
    6. Dog Everything - In forklift terminology, “dog everything” means to pause due to a potential hazard. A spotter might use this if someone is about to walk into the path of the forklift or if the load/pallet does not fit in the intended location.
    dog everything hand signal
    7. Emergency Stop - This signal is used in case of immediate hazards or after an accident occurs. It immediately stops all operations until the crew addresses the emergency. This is the most crucial of all forklift hand signals, and operators must follow it no matter who is giving it.
    emergency stop hand signal

    Related: Guide to Forklift Regulations in Ontario & OSHA Forklift Rules

    What is the hand signal 'dog everything' on a forklift?

    In forklift lingo, the hand signal 'dog everything' means that the forklift operator must pause all operations. This is due to a potential hazard or obstruction that has suddenly appeared, but so far hasn't made any significant harm yet. For example, if someone is about to walk into the path of the forklift or if the pallet doesn't fit well in the designated location, this hand signal is used by the spotters.

    dog everything forklift hand signal

    This signal is important for ensuring the safety of the operator and those around them. To do this hand signal, clasp both of your hands in front of your waist.

    What is the hand signal for move slowly?

    The hand signal for "move slowly" is used to indicate that the forklift operator should reduce their speed. This hand signal is used when the operator needs to navigate through a busy or congested area. 

    move slowly forklift hand signal

    To make the "move slowly" hand signal, extend both hands horizontally to one side with one hand over the other, and move the bottom hand in a circular motion to indicate the desired speed.

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