Do I need to do a pre-shift inspection every day?

Apr 01 2022 | 3 Min. Read Safety

Have you ever had a forklift or MEWP operator ask this question? We’ll bet you have. 

In the rush of a workday, taking five to fifteen minutes to do an equipment inspection may seem like a distraction. One reason to perform these inspections is that OSHA “requires that all forklifts be examined at least daily before being placed in service. Forklifts used on a round-the-clock basis must be examined after each shift. [29 CFR 1910.178(q)(7)]” However, pre-shift inspections are crucial for two more critical reasons: safety and productivity. This blog post will review why these inspections are important and list things every inspection should include.


OSHA requires that all forklifts be inspected before beginning work each day (or before each shift—see above) to ensure everything is working properly and to identify potential problem areas. A pre-shift inspection should identify safety issues from malfunctioning or damaged equipment, like hydraulic failures, stability issues, and other problems that could increase the risk of a tip-over or other safety incident.

Identifying potential problems before a vehicle is out on the floor protects the operator, other workers in the facility, and visitors. Forklifts are heavy and difficult to stop quickly. Accidents can mean serious injury or even death. Anything, like pre-shift inspections, that can prevent accidents is worth doing.


Pre-shift inspections can identify problems when they’re still relatively minor. Often, a small adjustment by the operator is all that’s needed to get the truck back to optimal operating condition. And a vehicle that’s in optimal condition will be more efficient and productive. 

If the problem needs more attention, repairs may cost less. Often when an issue is identified early, fixing it costs less and takes less time, so the truck is back to work quickly.

Bottom line? Pre-shift inspections can improve forklift productivity and reduce maintenance costs by finding problems early.

A “typical” pre-shift inspection checklist

There are two important points to make here. The first is that having a checklist will make the inspection process easier and standardized. The second is that “typical” may not be an appropriate word to use here since pre-shift checklists vary based on the manufacturer and model. (OSHA provides some sample, generic checklists; however, we highly recommend you consult the owner’s manual for each model in your fleet.)

Key items to check include:

  • Forks for bending or signs of damage
  • Chains for proper tension and greasing
  • Carriage and load backrest for signs of damage
  • Tires for chunking, tearing, or damage
  • Signs of leaks or drips from the engine or hydraulics
  • Seatbelt for proper tension and performance
  • Battery charge
  • Fluid levels
  • Mast for signs of damage
  • Lights, horn
  • Brakes, steering

Trust TrainMOR for operator training

How and why to conduct pre-shift inspections is an essential part of operator training and certification. So, this is an important part of what we deliver in our programs.

When it comes to training operators on forklift and MEWP operation and safety, rely on TrainMOR. Contact us for information on our Mobile, Memorable, and Measurable training courses—available online, in classroom and on-site.


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