Forklift Attachment Safety Isn’t Just a Good Idea, It’s Also the Law

Drum Gripper. Photo courtesy of VESTIL Manufacturing

Drum Gripper. Photo courtesy of VESTIL Manufacturing

Forklifts on their own are an essential tool to many businesses. But all the various types of attachments that can be used with forklifts give these useful vehicles even more versatility.

The most common forklift attachments include paper roll handlers, barrel clamps, rotators that can grab and rotate loads, extending or telescoping forks, work platforms for lifting personnel, and specialized attachments for use with container handling, cartons, and pallets.

Dangers of Forklift Attachments

Forklift attachments are heavy duty industrial equipment. As such, they can be potentially harmful to workers, especially those who are not properly trained on their safe use.

Forklift attachments alter the performance of the vehicle. They can change the center of gravity, affect visibility, and decrease the forklift’s load capacity. So even operators who highly trained on the use of their forklift need to receive specific training on every type of attachment they are asked to use.

So even operators who highly trained on the use of their forklift need to receive specific training on every type of attachment they are asked to use.

The most common dangers associated with forklift attachments are overloading and tip over risks.

The weight of the attachment often decreases the lifting capacity of the forklift. So if a forklift is rated to lift a certain weight load, adding an attachment that decreases lift capacity can put the uninformed operator at risk.

Adding an attachment also can increase the forklift’s load center by moving the load further away from the standard balance or fulcrum point, increasing the risk of tip-over accidents and falling loads.

Training Operators Using Forklift Attachments

A forklift work platform  (Courtesy: Monica Zou at flickr.com)

A forklift work platform
(Courtesy: Monica Zou at flickr.com)

Providing detailed training to operators required to use forklift attachments isn’t just a good idea. It’s also required by law under the guidelines regulating forklift operation enforced by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

If an operator already has received forklift training, he or she needs to be retrained if the use of a new type of forklift attachment is added to their job requirements. This training should include facts about how the attachment affects the vehicle’s load capacity, how to safely operate the attachment, and how to properly inspect the attachment to make sure it is working properly.

Further Safety Considerations

Forklift attachments should only be used if they have been specifically approved for use by the forklift’s original manufacturer. Adding an attachment for a forklift that isn’t designed to handle it can put the operator, and the business, at risk.

OSHA actually requires the forklift maker to provide prior written approval for any modifications or additions that can affect the forklift’s capacity or safe operation.

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