What does a forklift spotter do? Forklifts and other powered industrial trucks are rugged, powerful tools that help workers perform materials handling tasks quickly and efficiently. But the same qualities that make industrial trucks so helpful can also make them dangerous. As a forklift operator, if you have limited visibility or are unsure about clearance, do not move the forklift without a spotter.

Forklift operators, even when using a spotter, are still responsible for the safe operation of the forklift. Remove all distractions, don’t look at your cellphone, and focus on the spotter’s signals.

Before driving a forklift, walk around the forklift and remove any hazards.

forklift spotter

Forklift operators must always keep the spotter in view. If you lose sight of the spotter, stop the machine immediately. Move the forklift slowly and in a controlled manner.

If the spotter needs to stop signaling momentarily, for any reason, stop the forklift. Resume the maneuver only after the spotter is again fully focused and the signaling is resumed.

Spotters typically use hand signals because voice signals may not be heard or can be easily misunderstood, especially if there is noise on the job site. Use a two-way radio if the forklift driver cannot see the spotter or hear verbal signals.

There is not a set of universally recognized hand signals. Whether you are the forklift operator, or the spotter, ensure that you agree on and understand the set of signals that will be used during the operation.

Forklift Spotter Hand Signals

Spotter hand signals include turn right/left, move forward/backward, raise/lower the load, spread/close the forks, tilt mast backward/forward, and stop.

While acting as someone who give signals to only one person, the driver. Use large arm and hand movements that are easy to understand.

Keep a safe distance from the forklift you are guiding. When possible, stand to the side and rear (or front) of the forklift (driver’s side is best). Maintain continuous visual contact with the forklift operator.

If possible, avoid walking backwards while giving the signals – if you are walking, you need to see where you are going.

Do not become positioned between the forklift and a fixed object. Stay out of the forklift’s path of travel. Allow enough stopping distance and clearance.

Continue to signal even when the forklift’s maneuver is the same or is proceeding normally and safely. Keep your hands up and keep the proper signal going throughout the movement.

Source: weeklysafety