5 Forklift Facts You May Not Have Realized Were True

Military Forklifts

A forklift is used to move ordinance in the bay of the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier (Photo courtesy of the US Navy and in the public domain)

When you work around forklifts all day, there’s a tendency to think you know everything there is to know about these industrial powered vehicles.

While it’s true that you may be very familiar with the operation of your particular forklift, there are actually many different types of forklifts. And there are a lot of facts about forklifts that you may not know.

Here are five astonishing forklift facts that may come as news to you.

Different Types of Forklifts

For example, you may think that a forklift is a lift truck powered by diesel fuel, gasoline, liquid propane, or electric batteries. But in reality, the term “forklift” refers to any vehicle that uses forks to lift payloads like palletized materials or heavy equipment.

That includes various types of industrial workplace tools, including reach trucks, pump trucks or hand pallet lift trucks, counterbalance lift trucks, three-wheel counterbalance lift trucks, teletrucks, side loaders, and powered pallet lift trucks such as power jacks.

Forklifts and Accidents

While forklifts are often cited as the source of most workplace accidents, they actually account for only about 1% of all mishaps. But because they are so big and powerful, this small amount of accidents account for about 10% of all workplace injuries.

You can reduce the risk of accidents and injuries by simply slowing down. The typical maximum speed for a forklift used indoors is about 8 mph. But when other people are around, the driver should slow down to about 3 mph or less.

Load Capacity

Did you know you can tell the maximum load capacity of a forklift just by looking at it? Looking closely, that is.

Every forklift is required to have a metal plate that includes is maximum load capacity. Typically, this plate is found on the mast, on the dashboard, or somewhere else that is immediately available to the operator at all times.

Forklift History

Early types of forklifts were first used during the Industrial Revolution of the 19th Century. But the widespread use of modern forklifts didn’t come until the outbreak of World War II when a labor shortage caused businesses to find new and efficient ways to move materials more effectively.

Plus, forklift technology rapidly improved when the military started researching methods of moving war materials faster. Many historians claim that forklifts were essential in the Allied victory during the war.

You may think that you know your forklift, but there are a lot of things about forklifts that you may not know.


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