Reduced Safe Forklift Lifting Capacity

8 Factors Reducing Your Forklift’s Safe Lifting Capacity


Your forklift may be rated to lift 5,000 lbs or even 40,000 lbs, but that doesn't mean that it actually will. Certain factors could reduce your forklift's safe lifting capacity. Minimize the risk of exceeding your forklift's capacity and avoid accidents by checking these 8 areas.


1. Forks

The continual use of forklifts results in normal fork wear. The amount and rate at which they wear depends upon the weight of the loads handled, how they are handled (what type of substrate comes in contact with the fork) and how often loads are handled (duty cycles).

A 10% reduction in fork surface (wear) results in a 20% reduction in the safe lifting capacity of your forklift. A forklift rated to lift 5,000 lbs is reduced to 4,000 lbs once the forks are 10% worn. At this point the forks should be replaced.


2. Daily Inspections

OSHA requires daily inspections. While a daily measurement of fork wear is not required, it is good practice to conduct a fork wear inspection on a regular basis. During daily inspections, forks should be visually inspected for cracks or bends. Both reduce the safe lifting capacity of your forklift and create a dangerous operating condition.

If you switch to longer forks, the load center of the forklift will change too. This reduces the safe lifting capacity. Make sure you work with the manufacturer to determine the new safe lifting capacity.


3. Chains

Chains are inspected as part of any normal planned maintenance program. Your service technicians should measure the chains to determine when they need to be replaced.

When a 3% elongation results in a 15% reduction in safe lifting capacity the chains should be replaced. We recommend you replace the chains rather than attempting to repair chains that are worn.


4. Load Center

The data plate on your forklift indicates safe load capacities at given fork load centers. Not every pallet received by your facility is loaded according to the forklift manufactures specifications.

It's important for safe operation to adjust your lifting practices to ensure safe handling. As a rule, for every inch beyond the manufacturers recommended fork load center, one hundred pounds of lifting capacity is lost at a lowered height of six to eight inches.


5. Tires

Your forklift is designed with specific tires in mind. Make sure they meet the manufacturer's specifications, especially if you're considering changing the tire type. Make sure you replace your tires when they're worn or damaged.


6. Batteries

Verify that your batteries meet the manufacturer’s specifications. If you have purchased a used forklift this can be an issue. Since batteries act as the counterweight in many electric forklifts, using the right battery is essential.


7. Attachments

Anytime you add an attachment, the data plate on the forklift must be adjusted to reflect the new safe lifting capacity. Work with the manufacturer to determine what that new safe lifting capacity could be.


8. Engines

You might never replace an engine. But if you do, be certain the replacement engine meets or exceeds the weight of the current engine and that the configuration of the replacement engine does not affect the center of gravity of the forklift.

This is particularly important if you purchase used forklifts. Ask the seller if the engine has been replaced or altered in any dramatic fashion. If it has, be sure the forklift has been re-rated for safe lifting capacity.