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Forklift Capacity and Work Safety

The forklift in the big warehouse delivery
Each year, workers sustain forklift-related injuries. Employing forklift safety best practices can minimize the occurrence of such fatalities at your worksite. A good place to start is to understand the capacity of your forklift to ensure that operators are handling loads within the appropriate weight limits. Here's a quick guide to get you up to speed.

Basics of Forklift Capacity

To ensure safe operation, a forklift should only lift a designated load weight. The load capacity is the maximum weight a forklift can safely lift beyond which the equipment may become unstable, tilt, or topple over.
An important consideration when evaluating the capacity of a forklift is the load center. The load center is the angle from the vertical tip of the forks to the load's center of gravity.
For optimal stability and maximization of equipment capacity, a forklift operator should place loads at the center of the forklift.

Variables of Forklift Capacity

In addition to the load center, other variables can affect the capacity of a forklift at any given time. These variables may be different for each forklift model.
Parts
The weight of forklift parts such as the mast, battery, and other attachments will impact the overall weight and in turn the capacity of the equipment.
Tilt
Tilt is the maximum angle a load can move toward or away from the operator. The more you tilt a load forward, the more the equipment's capacity diminishes.
Height
Generally, a forklift with a high maximum lifting height relative to the load center has a larger load capacity. Bear in mind that the maximum load capacity of a forklift is not a fixed figure but rather a measurement that changes depending on these variables.

Causes of Forklift Capacity-Related Problems

Certain factors can thoroughly diminish the load capacity of even the best forklift model.
Load Arrangement
Poorly arranged loads can create problems with stability, lessen load capacity, and increase the risk of load dropping, which can damage goods. Unstable forklifts also pose a great danger to drivers and pedestrians at the worksite.
Overload
Exceeding a forklift's load capacity can easily damage the equipment and drastically minimize its carrying capacity. Overload may occur due to several reasons.
For example, an operator may not understand the meaning of the figures on the nameplate and therefore misinterpret the load capacity information.
Overload may also occur if the operator does not understand the implications of load size and shape on the forklift's load capacity. Operators should lift and place loads in a way that carefully considers the load center to prevent load imbalance.
Poor Maintenance
Over time, forklifts succumb to wear and tear, which can diminish the equipment's carrying capacity. If you are renting, check that your equipment rental company regularly services its equipment to ensure safety and optimal performance.
Inadequate Training
Operator training might seem like an added expense, but skirting around this critical requirement could cost you even more in the event of an accident.
To get the most out of material-handling equipment, ensure that all operators have adequate training on load weight, load capacity, load center, lifting best practices, and related topics that the employer deems relevant.
According to OSHA requirements, forklift operators should receive training at least once every three years to keep workers up to date with industry safety requirements.
Industrial forklifts play an important role in heavy-duty material hauling and transportation at a worksite. However, operators must employ lifting best practices to ensure safe and efficient forklift operations.
At General Steel, we not only supply the right equipment for all your rigging and machinery moving needs. We also offer full servicing and maintenance of industrial equipment to minimize downtime, increase safety, and protect your bottom line. Call us today to learn more about our services.