Seemingly indestructible, forklift forks are often forgotten about when considering equipment maintenance and workplace safety. However, considering how much weight they lift, normal wear, and damage they endure every day, it is important to know how to inspect and when to replace your forklift forks.
If a damaged or worn-down fork is not noticed and replaced, it is in jeopardy of snapping and dropping the load, which would result in:
- Damaged goods
- Injure operator
- Forklift downtime
Not only are regular inspections the best way to proactively avoid costly factors associated with work failure, but they are also required by OSHA and the Industrial Truck Standards Foundation (ITSDF).
Firstly, OSHA requires daily inspection of the condition of the forks as part of their Forklift Pre-Operational Inspection Checklist. ITSDF requires a yearly inspection, repair, and testing of forks done by a knowledgeable and trained individual (ANSI/ITSDF B-56.1).
When to Replace Forks
Replace forklift forks when there is damage, including:
- Surface cracks
- Bent shank, blade, or hooks
- Uneven blade height
- Non-operational position lock
The constant loading/unloading of cargo and repositioning of forks will cause the metal on the blade, shank, and hooks to wear down over time. Harder to identify than damage, fork wear requires use of a caliper to determine if replacement is necessary.
How to Find the Wear of the Fork Blade:
Step 1: Set caliper by measuring thickness of fork shank
Step 2: Without adjusting caliper, position caliper over forklift arm blade (2” from inside of heel)
If back teeth of caliper pass freely over blade of fork, replace the fork.
If back teeth of caliper hit the blade, the fork does not need replaced.
How to Find the Wear of the Fork Hooks:
With nearly 30% of forks failing to meet safety standards, inspecting and knowing when to replace forklift forks can save your operation significant time and money.