Safe forklift operation is essential for any business. An important detail to know when operating a forklift is the capacity of your forklift limit. Below we will explain what forklift load capacity is, as well as what you need to know to safely operate your forklifts.
Safety is a top priority for any business owner and operators should:
- be trained
- know safety devices and functions of the lift truck.
- use the forklift as intended to be used.
- not drive recklessly.
- space out forks properly.
- never exceed the rated capacity of the forklift.
What is Capacity and How to Determine the Weight You Can Carry?
OSHA requires that ALL forklifts have an updated data plate that indicates information like capacity, load center, and maximum lift height. Loads can come in various shapes and sizes, not just symmetrical boxes. Forklift max capacity is determined by the load center of the product you’re picking up.
Figuring out the maximum weight your forklift can carry, you must consider several factors. The load size, position, weight distribution, and the stability of the truck all affect lifting capacity. As an example, if you have a 4,000-pound rectangular box standing up vertically, the forklifts load capacity will be higher than if it was positioned horizontally with the long end of the box overhanging the forks. That is why the center of your loads plays a critical part in determining the maximum capacity.
Risks to Exceeding Forklift Capacities:
Several life-threating hazards can occur if you go over the maximum capacity. Some included are:
- Dropping the load.
- Loss of steering control.
- Tipping over.
To avoid these hazards, operators should:
- know where the forklift’s load capacity plate located.
- understand a load’s weight, shape, size, and position.
- have the heaviest part of the load closer to the mast.
- keep the distance from the front wheels to the load’s center of gravity minimum.
Note that having different forklift attachments will change the characteristics of how each forklift will operate, including the load capacity. It is crucial to keep each data tag updated with each attachment and have operators understand the de-rated capacity of the forklift so they can know their limitations.
How to Locate Load Capacity Data
All forklifts have a load capacity data plate. They are usually within viewing distance when the operator enters the forklift, but this varies depending on the make and model of the forklift. The plate differs and may display some or all of the following information:
- General information like brand, model, serial number, and forklift type.
- Information on components and parts: Tire type and sizes, mast type, and tire tread.
- Forklift and battery weight.
- Attachments in weight calculation.
- Tilt degree.
- Load capacity.
- Load center distances.
- Max lifting height.
Lift trucks with high masts will have a different capacity rating for the various heights; as an operator, you should refer to the manufacturer’s capacity plate for the mast height ratings.
Avoiding Load Capacity Issues
These are some of the basic rules you can follow to avoid running into forklift load capacity issues and creating a safer work environment.
- Train operators to check load capacity plates and never make assumptions.
- Never go over the forklifts stated load capacity.
- Purchase equipment with load capacities slightly greater than you need for the job.
- Instruct operators to read and follow instructions in the operator’s manual.
- Make sure each forklift has the correct information and is legible to read.
- Travel at a safe speed that will maintain control of the forklift with and without a load.
- Keep the load at a safe traveling height of 2-4 inches from the ground.
Increasing operator awareness and proper training will prevent accidents in the workplace.