How Forklift Attachments Affect Forklift Safety

We’re all for using forklift attachments. We’re just as interested in forklift safety, though. As useful as forklift attachments are, they can pose safety problems if not used correctly. To get the most out of your attachments and accessories, you need to be aware of their hazards and benefits.

The four most common causes of forklift accidents have been identified as:

  • Attachments
  • Pedestrians
  • The work environment
  • Loads

To paraphrase the gun lobby, “Forklift attachments don’t kill people. People kill people.” Forklift attachments are cited by OSHA and other authorities as a “cause” of forklift accidents, but really, the cause is the one using the attachment. Let’s take a look at how forklift attachments figure into the other common causes of forklift accidents.


An unwary pedestrian can be their own worst enemy in a work environment where forklifts are in operation. Some forklift accessories, like safety signs, are designed to help reduce pedestrian accidents. Other accessories, such as drum handlers, are neutral, but if extra precautions are not taken, can pose a danger to pedestrians.

Take a look at the picture of the drum lifter here. It’s a great forklift attachment that makes drum handling far safer and more efficient. However, the drum or drums can impair visibility. Keeping the drums as close to the ground as possible when the lift truck is in motion will help improve visibility or you can drive in reverse, but for even greater safety, make sure your backup beeper is operational whenever you are reversing.



The Work Environment

A good forklift work environment is set up to operate a forklift safely and efficiently. The addition of a forklift attachment can alter the relationship between the forklift and its working environment significantly. For example, forklift fork extensions alter the dynamics of lift truck operations. A forklift operator accustomed to standard length forks can misjudge distances when using fork extensions. This can result in a serious accident. At best, the fork extensions clip objects while the forklift is turning. At worst, they cause injuries to other workers. In one documented case, a forklift operator accidentally caused a row of pallet racks to topple over. His cage saved him from serious injury, but tens of thousands of dollars of damage was done.




Click here for more information about forklift load capacities.

Forklift attachments can alter the load capacity of a lift truck in a number of ways. We covered some of the important safety issues associated with forklift attachments and load capacity in an earlier blog, What You Need to Know about Forklift Load Capacities. In that blog, we highlighted the importance of being aware of how dramatically a forklift boom attachment can alter the carrying capacity of a lift truck. noting that simply by moving a load 4 inches further forward can reduce the capacity of a 4,000 pound rated forklift by nearly 600 pounds. When using a boom attachment of fork extensions, the carrying capacity is reduced even more dramatically.

Your forklift attachments can be assets or liabilities. It’s up to you. Use them safely and make them assets or ignore the safety rules and turn them into dangerous liabilities.



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