How To Safely Work With Telehandlers


A telehandler is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment used on construction sites. Because it can fulfil multiple roles, telehandlers make themselves useful in a number of ways including lifting, moving and placing materials.

Safety is always a concern when operating these large pieces of equipment. As you embrace the versatility of telehandlers, make sure you’re following these safety tips to reduce problems and incidents.

How does a telehandler work?

Telehandlers are used for a variety of lifting jobs on construction sites, mines and farms. The telescopic boom can be raised and lowered, and several attachments can be easily and efficiently fitted to the boom so that a telehandler can perform different jobs.

Telehandlers are excellent for moving, lifting, and placing supplies on a job site. In fact, supply placement is one of their primary uses. They are also used to move ground matter and people.

How safe are telehandlers?

Telehandlers can be very dangerous. As they carry large loads off the ground, they can lose their load or even tilt over. Overloading can be an issue, and poor driving can lead to the vehicle becoming unbalanced with the risk of it falling over. The forks present another potential hazard if they are not lifted sufficiently off the ground when driving.

The importance of telehandler safety training

As with any major piece of heavy equipment, operators should receive proper training before using them. Where possible, employees should receive both general training and hands-on practical training. Telehandler safety training is very important for operators who need to know to operate the machine in the safest manner possible. Unfortunately, telescopic handlers can be very dangerous and putting them in the hands of an untrained individual can result in serious incidents. People operating a telehandler regularly should obtain their telescopic handler licence.

Do you need a special licence to operate a telehandler?

Telehandler drivers should acquire a licence to operate a telehandler. The course covers the skills needed to operate the components, systems and levers of a telescopic boom handler. Employees will learn how to load the machine correctly and how to drive it safely. Look for a SAQA approved qualification.

Perform pre-inspections and checks

Before using a telehandler, perform a pre-operation inspection to ensure the machine is working optimally. A telehandler safety checklist can help you ensure your equipment is ready to operate. If there is anything wrong with the machine, a qualified technician needs to be called.

Understand load capacity and don’t overload your telehandler

One of the biggest telehandler safety concerns is overloading a telehandler, or loading it in such a way that the supplies slide off during transportation. Make sure that the weight and centre of gravity of the load does not exceed the telehandler’s maximum capacity. Secure the load with ties where possible.

Drive safely at low speeds

A telehandler can reach speeds of 40km/h on the open road, but on a rough and bumpy construction site be sure to keep speeds to a low. Cornering can be particularly dangerous, so corner slowly and carefully to prevent the vehicle from tipping. Don’t stop suddenly or change directions when going fast. If you’re going uphill, be sure to drive straight forward. Driving diagonally or turning while travelling up a slope can lead to the machine tipping or losing balance.

Keep the forks at least 30cm off the ground

When moving over rough terrain, ensure that the forks are adjusted to a height that avoids the forks scraping or spearing the ground. Pay careful attention to the fork height on uphill slopes. Tilt the fork carriage backwards to prevent the load from slipping off.

Never allow anyone to walk under the load.

Keep the area in front of the telehandler clear. No one should walk or stand under the load as this may cause huge damage.

How to buy or hire a telehandler?

Concord Access Solutions offer a range of telehandlers that can be hired or purchased. Get in touch with us for a comprehensive quote or advice on what equipment you might require.