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I have many times referred to forklifts as the Swiss Army Knife of material handling. That’s because it can do so many different tasks thanks to the availability of attachments. Some of the attachments are fairly heavy including fork positioners, paper roll clamps, carton clamps, and more.
Adding an attachment to a forklift is going to require some work. However, the work needs to be performed or you are asking for trouble concerning the safe operation of the forklift.
It probably isn’t that uncommon that forklifts are used with heavy attachments such as a paper roll clamp while the nameplate still notes that the lift is using “forks only.”
If this is the case with a forklift or two at your warehouse, then the nameplates for those lifts may be off by many thousands of pounds setting up an accident that is about to happen.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the U.S. federal government agency that regulates the safe use of forklifts. The agency requires that any modification that affects the capacity, stability or safe operation of a forklift cannot be performed without the written consent of that forklift’s manufacturer. Moreover, any changes to the forklift must be noted in changes to the forklift’s nameplate, tags, decals, etc. If the factory installs the attachment, it is required to it should be noted on the nameplate. If the attachment is installed in the field, then the end user is required to request that the forklift nameplate be marked noting the attachment and its weight and the capacity of the new forklift/attachment combination. The notations made to the nameplate must be maintained in a readable condition.
A warehouse must follow this step or it is putting the operator of the forklift in danger and leaving the warehouse open to liability.
Requiring a warehouse to satisfy OSHA’s rule on this matter can present challenges. Here is what the warehouse should do to assure it complies with the rule.
· Contact the local dealer of the company that manufactured the forklift on which the attachment has been or will be installed and request that he modify the forklift’s nameplate.
· Keep on the dealer as you wait for him to take action. Dealers are busy working on all sorts of obligations and modifying a nameplate may not be a high priority for them, especially if the attachment was bought somewhere else or the warehouse is not going to the dealer to buy parts or services. You may have to pay for the dealer to mark the nameplate and you should expect them to do it in a reasonable period of time. Expect the dealer to send a representative to your warehouse to check out the forklift in question, note the model, its serial number, and mast and other critical information that the factory would deem necessary. If the dealer does not perform his obligation in a timely matter, then the warehouse should contact the manufacturer directly.
· If the manufacturer of the forklift is out of business, then OSHA requires the warehouse to hire a registered professional engineer to test and approve the modification.