When Is It Time to Replace Forklift Forks?

forged steel fork

Forklift forks are one of the most overlooked parts on any forklift. But they are also the part that takes the brunt of the workload.

Forks that are worn, bent, or cracked can cause big problems for any business. If they should break or malfunction while the operator is carrying a heavy load, not only can it lead to the loss of products, but it also can cause damage to property and the forklift itself. It can even put the operator or pedestrians at risk of injury.

Types of Forklift Fork Damage

Forklift forks are designed to last a long time. But when they are pushed beyond their limits, they can fail.

The most common way to damage forklift forks is to lift loads that are beyond the forklift’s loading rating, or lifting loads that are too far out on the forks.

Some forklift attachments can also put undue stress on forklift forks. Drum clamps and portable booms are designed to be supported on the forks, but operators need to be careful not to push them past the forks’ original limits.

Another common way to damage forks is to use them in ways they are not intended. For example, some operators use the forks on their lift trucks to open rail car doors or to break loads out our move them away from other loads.

There have even been instances of operators using fork tips to lift other forklifts during maintenance operations.

Inspecting Forks

To ensure optimal performance, forks should be inspected at least once per year for single shift operations, and more frequently for that for vehicles that are used around the clock.

Look for wear and distortion, which can indicate that the integrity of the fork has been compromised. In some instances, a fork caliper — a special tool that has an adjustable go/no-go gauge — can be used to tell if a fork is in optimal working order.

Forks are composed of two sections: The shank, which is the vertical portion that is attached to the carriage either by bolts or by a weld, and the blade, which is the tapered bottom part that is used to lift loads.

The shank typically will wear out slower than the blade. That’s because the blade is the part that primarily comes into contact with pallets and other items.

Taking care of your forks is a good way to protect your employees, your products, and your business against unexpected problems.

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