Minimizing the Risks of Using Forklift Attachments

Used properly, forklift attachments such as forklift booms, lifting hooks, drum lifters, tow bases, and fork extensions can expand the versatility of your vehicle.

But anytime you use a forklift attachment, there are certain risks involved. One of the biggest is overloading your forklift. It’s important to take into consideration how much the forklift attachment itself weighs. The weight of the attachment will reduce the lifting capacity of your truck.

For example, if your vehicle has a lifting capacity of 5,000 lbs but the forklift attachment you are using itself weighs 500 lbs, the remaining lifting capacity of your vehicle will be only 4,500 lbs.

Tip Over and Falling Loads

If you fail to take into account the weight of the forklift and try to use your vehicle to lift its maximum rated load, it’s highly possible that your forklift could tip over or drop its load.

Forklift attachments and extensions also increase the load center of the vehicle by moving the load further away from the balance or fulcrum point — another tip over or falling load danger.

Reducing Risk

To minimize the risk involved with using forklift attachments and extensions, it’s important that all drivers be trained thoroughly on the proper use, operation, and limitations of each specific attachment they are required to use.

Every time an operator is required to use a new attachment, it’s important that they are trained on that particular piece of equipment. If necessary, consult the owner’s manual for the attachment on how to properly use the new equipment.

It’s especially important that drivers understand the rated capacity of the forklift and forklift attachment combination. They also should know the mechanical limitations of their vehicle.

Scheduled Maintenance

You should already have a maintenance schedule for your forklift. But when you add an attachment, it also needs to be added to the maintenance and inspection program.

Just like the forklift itself, the attachment should be inspected prior to every shift. Specific things to check include:

  • The attachment’s data plates are visible and legible
  • The attachment’s load-bearing components have no deformations
  • The welds on load-bearing attachments also should be checked for cracks.
  • The mechanical and hydraulic components should be inspected and maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions

You can ask the forklift manufacturer to send you new data plates that have the approximate weight of the vehicle and attachment combination at maximum elevation with the load laterally centered.

If they can’t or won’t provide them, you can create new nameplates yourself after getting a safety analysis from a qualified registered professional engineer.

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