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Training: Basics of Forklift
Training: Basics of Forklift

Learn about the different types of forklift and best practices of using one

Vaibhav Pandey avatar
Written by Vaibhav Pandey
Updated over a week ago

Forklift is another quintessential vehicular instrument that is widely used in warehouses. When you need to move heavy loads in a warehouse, forklifts can safely lift objects that humans cannot, making them indispensable at the worksite. There are many different forklift types, carefully designed and equipped for specific applications along with providing a unique set of benefits and features.

Warehouse Forklift

The warehouse forklift is the most common type of lift truck. It resembles a yellow golf cart with twin forks extending from the front. You’ll most often use this forklift in a facility with a large number of items in inventory. These trucks are great for loading and unloading pallets and balanced materials, well as removing and transporting items from delivery vehicles.Most industrial forklifts can lift 5,000 lbs of weight, but some heavy-duty models are capable of elevating up to 25,000 lbs.

Side Loader

This is a modified subtype of the warehouse forklift. Side loaders are usually found in steel service centers and manufacturing facilities with heavy and bulky items. The operator stands in a sideways compartment and the side loader unloads objects on its side. Due to its sideways operation, side load forklifts can easily drive up alongside racks and load and unload without having to turn. This makes them suitable for navigating narrow aisles and handling long loads like timber and pipes.

Telehandler or Reach Forklift

Popularly known as a telescopic forklift or a reach forklift, the telehandler has a boom and extendable arm, making a combination of a crane and forklift. The twin forks attached to this arm are used to move pallets off the ground. A standard telehandler is capable of lifting 5,500 lbs of materials from up to 19 ft in the air. These material handling trucks are great for reaching into tight spaces and odd angles. Some telehandler models can lift loads up to 55 ft high.

Other types of forklifts

  1. Counterbalance Forklift: has a weight in the back of the vehicle to counterbalance the weight of the load and does not have extending arms

  2. Industrial Forklift: combines the functionalities of a warehouse forklift with that of a telehandler and is capable of lifting heavier payloads much higher off the ground than a warehouse forklift

  3. Rough Terrain Forklift: designed specifically for outdoor job sites, especially on uneven surfaces with sturdy pneumatic tires

Best Practices for operating a Forklift

  • Do not operate a forklift unless you have received thorough forklift operator training. Training should include not only understanding how forklifts operate, their limitations and dangers, but also be specific to the equipment you operate and specific to your facility.

  • Use seatbelts. If not installed, retrofit old sit-down type forklifts with an operator restraint system if possible.

  • Conduct inspections on your forklifts before an operator puts the forklift into service. This means at the start of each day, or each shift change, forklifts should be inspected for damage or failing/failed components.

  • Ensure there is a system to lock-out forklifts that have been reported and that they can not be used until repaired by a qualified technician.

  • Do not attempt to turn around on grades or ramps. Keep loads elevated and upslope, not pointed downslope.

  • On grades, tilt the load back and raise it only as far as needed to clear the road surface.

  • Do not raise or lower the forks while the forklift is moving.

  • Do not handle loads that are heavier than the weight capacity of the forklift

  • Operate the forklift at a speed that will permit it to be stopped safely.

  • Slow down and use the horn at cross aisles and other locations where vision is obstructed. Make every effort to alert workers when a forklift is nearby. Use horns, audible backup alarms, and flashing lights to warn workers and other forklift operators in the area. Flashing lights are especially important in areas where the ambient noise level is high.

  • Look toward the travel path and keep a clear view of it.

  • Do not allow passengers to ride on forklift trucks unless a seat is provided.

  • When dismounting from a forklift, set the parking brake, lower the forks or lift the carriage, and neutralize the controls.

  • Do not use a forklift to elevate workers who are standing on the forks.

Forklift Safety Checklist

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