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How to Operate a Stand Up Forklift

Pamela Gardapee

Operating a stand up forklift is completely different than operating a sit down version. Your movements are different, as is the way you pick and move loads. If you do not know how to operate a stand-up forklift, you could cause harm to co-workers and yourself.

How to Operate a Stand Up Forklift

You must follow the proper safety rules when operating a stand up forklift. There are basic operating standards that you must adhere to when operating the stand up forklift.

  1. Stand up on the forklift and get a feel for the controls and the steering knob. The steering is done with the knob steering plate instead of a steering wheel. This knob moves very fast, so you must become accustomed to moving it sensitively and don't oversteer. The horn is on the control handle, as well as the control for forward, backwards and the movement of the forks. The floor pedal gives the forklift power to move.

  2. Turn the key to start the forklift. Make sure that the forks are retracted. They should be pointed slightly upwards when you are moving around the floor. Never drive with the forks extended. If you are going forward, move the control handle forward and step on the pedal to make the lift go forward. If you are backing up, beep your horn and look behind you to make sure the way is clear. Pull the control handle towards you while stepping on the petal.

  3. When turning corners, use your steering knob to turn in the direction you need to go while keeping your foot on the power pedal and your other hand on the control handle. If you are turning left, the steering knob will go in a counter-clockwise direction and for turning right, the steering knob will move in a clockwise direction when going forward.

  4. Use the control handle to raise the forks up to grab a pallet in a rack. Pull in front of the rack and use the control handle to raise the forks to the pallet you need. Then you will press the button on the control handle to extend the forks. If you need to move closer to the load, do that now. When the forks are in the pallet securely, raise the pallet slightly off the rack and retract the forks. Move the forklift back so that you clear the rack and lower the load to the floor. Keep the load about 1 to 2 inches off the ground when moving. When placing a load in the rack, reverse this process.

  5. When moving up a ramp tilt the forks slightly downwards and when moving down a ramp raise the forks slightly. The goal is to keep the load as level as possible going up and down. To stop the stand-up forklift, move the control handle to the middle position and release the handle.

  6. Tip

    Always practice on any new lift in an area where there is nothing you can damage. You need to have a license to operate a forklift. Always beep your horn at pathways and when backing up to warn people you are moving.


    If you keep the forks extended when driving, you can cause cause the lift to become unstable and risk injuring someone.

    Never drive a lift with a load in the air, no matter how short the distance.