Tips for Transporting a Forklift Safely

forklift steeringIn many instances, forklifts are used mostly in one location, such as on a dock, in a warehouse, or at a manufacturing facility.

But in other cases, a forklift may need to be transported to another site where it can be used for a specialized job.

Transporting a forklift safely from one location to another is serious business. They are extremely heavy machines, so even the slightest mistake can have devastating consequences.

Watch for Bridges

Consider, for example, a recent incident in Adelaide, Australia, in which a truck driver misjudged the height of the forklift that was parked on the back of his flatbed. The forklift slammed into a bridge, was torn from its bearings and landed in the roadway, where it caused extensive damage, according to local news reports.

Besides knowing the height and watching out for low-hanging bridges, you also need to secure the forklift to the flatbed or tractor-trailer you are using to transport it.

Check Weight Capacity

But before you even do that, you need to make sure that the trailer or flatbed you are using to carry the forklift can handle the vehicle’s weight. Forklifts can weigh several tons, so check the forklift’s weight on the plate or the owner’s manual then compare that to the maximum capacity of the trailer or flatbed.

If you are loading the forklift onto a trailer that isn’t attached to a tractor, you will need to put a nose jack under the front of the trailer so that the weight of the forklift doesn’t cause it to tip forward. Adjust the nose jack so that it is within an inch of contacting the trailer to prevent tipping.

Back It Up

Next, drive the forklift onto the trailer or flatbed. Because of the forks, you will need to back the forklift up onto the trailer.

It’s important that the forks always point toward the rear of the trailer or flatbed. If they are pointed forward and the truck accidentally collides with something, the forks can penetrate the cabin and injure or kill the driver.

The forklift should be centered on the flatbed or trailer. Make sure there is the same amount of room on each side, otherwise it could make the trailer tip over during a turn.

Lower the forks all the way down and tilt them slightly forward. Then chock the wheels with wood blocks. These blocks should then be secured to the floor of the trailer or flatbed using 4-inch wood screws so that the have a tight grip.

Remove Fuel Dangers

Before transporting the forklift, cut off the fuel supply. If it’s an electric forklift, disconnect the battery terminal to prevent arcing. If it’s a propane forklift, shut off the fuel supply. If it’s a diesel or gasoline forklift, make sure the tank is secure and that no gas can splash out during transport.

Finally, you want to secure the vehicle to the flatbed or trailer using chains and come alongs to tie it down. The heavy chains or nylon straps should be secured tot he edges of the truck bed and the come alongs can be cracked down to tighten the chains to make sure the forklift can’t move.

Use two chains to create four anchor points: One at each corner of the vehicle.


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