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The most common type of forklift accident is collisions between vehicles and people, property, or other vehicles.
But less common but still dangerous potential risk is when the loads you are hauling with your forklifts are unstable, imbalanced, or improperly loaded. One of the most common types of accidents involving non-moving forklifts occurs when elevated loads fall from the forks onto people or property below.
Balance In All Things
When lifting pallets and other loads, it’s important that they always be loaded as close to the mast as possible. This provides maximum stability and balance for operators.
When loads are lifted with the tips of the forks, there is a higher risk of the load being imbalanced. Plus, the center of gravity of the pallet or load may not be over the supporting forks, which can cause it to fall, tip, or even break the pallet itself if the load is too heavy.
What’s Your Load Capacity?
Quick: What’s the load capacity of your forklift? If you don’t know, you could be at risk of dumping your load because it’s too heavy.
Proper forklift use requires that operators never load their vehicles above their approved capacity. If you don’t know your forklift’s lifting capacity, it usually will be printed on a plate attached to the vehicle in an obvious location, such as on the mast, on the dashboard, or on a support beam within the line of sight of the operator.
If you can’t find the load capacity, consult your forklift’s owners’ manual. If you have misplaced the owner’s manual, go to the manufacturer’s website and download another one, or contact the company where you bought or leased the forklift.
Another effective way to increase forklift stability is to always travel with the forks in the lowest position possible.
Keeping the load low reduces the overall center of gravity for the vehicle and payload. Driving with the payload raised can not only increase the vehicle’s risk of tipping, but also can interfere with the operator’s ability to see where they are going.
Similarly, it’s important that the forks be tipped back prior to moving the forklift while carrying a load. If they are tilted forward, there is a higher risk of the pallet or payload slipping off the forks, especially if you run over a bump, hit a pothole, or meet some other obstacle in the road surface.