How to Safely Operate a Forklift on a Ramp

by Cathryn Whitehead; Updated September 26, 2017

Operating a forklift requires training, testing and a license or certificate to demonstrate that the operator understands the rules and safety issues. When the driving surface is uneven or the center of gravity is changed by the weight of a load, adjustments have to be made. A forklift often has to be driven up or down ramps to reach its destination and to load or unload containers. There are guidelines to safely operate a forklift on a ramp.

Items you will need

  • Training
  • Forklift certification

How to Safely Operate a Forklift on a Ramp

Step 1

Slow down whenever you approach a ramp and drive slowly up and down the ramp. High speeds can upset the center of gravity and cause accidents.

Step 2

Put the forklift in reverse if the forks are empty and you're moving up an incline on a ramp.

Step 3

Drive forward down an incline on a ramp if your forks are empty.

Step 4

Tilt the forks back when carrying a load on a ramp to move the load's center closer to your front wheels in order to make your load more stable.

Step 5

Drive forward up a ramp if you're carrying a load to keep the load stable.

Step 6

Travel in reverse down a ramp if you have a load on the forks to avoid dumping your load. Watch out for other vehicles that may be headed in your direction, and keep a distance of at least three fork truck lengths between you and the other vehicle.


  • When moving loads up and down ramps, make sure your forks are only raised between 4 inches and 8 inches off the ground.


About the Author

Cathryn Whitehead graduated from the University of Michigan in 1987. She has published numerous articles for various websites. Her poems have been published in several anthologies and on Whitehead has done extensive research on health conditions and has a background in education, household management, music and child development.