4 Things Every Forklift Operator Should Know About Lift Truck Capacity Ratings
Truck lift capacity ratings are important when it comes to the safe operation of a forklift. It’s crucial that all forklift operators know, understand and practice the rated load capacity of the machine without exceeding it.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the stated capacity of a forklift applies to the load center, which, if not centered at the correct position, will reduce the forklift’s capacity. Here are four things every forklift operator should know about lift truck capacity ratings, which are crucial to the safe operation of your vehicle.
1. Factors Affecting Loads
Weight, size and position. Because forklifts come in a variety of shapes and sizes, all with different load capacities, it’s important to remember the critical factors affecting each unit’s capacity. These are load size, weight distribution and position — all of which can affect the machine’s stability at any time. Knowing the exact capacity, thanks to detailed capacity ratings that come with each truck, is important before loading and transporting any materials.
Most forklifts can carry a standard load center of about two feet with evenly distributed weight and center of gravity. However, as you know, not all loads are perfectly positioned like that, so you must be sure to take this into consideration when loading unbalanced or unusually shaped items. If loads aren’t arranged properly, the possibility of tip-over, steering control loss, falling loads and even collisions increases.
2. Capacity Requirements for Oversized Loads
As stated before, not all loads are perfectly symmetrical with an equal center of gravity. Therefore, it’s the forklift operator’s duty to estimate safe load capacities when it comes to unusual load sizes or configurations. Reduce the load’s weight overall if you see that you will be exceeding the stated load center. It’s best to consult your forklift manufacturer’s instructions when it comes to arranging large, awkward loads.
If you can’t readily find those instructions, reduce the lift capacity using field calculations for an estimate as a last resort.
3. Attachments and Varied Lift Capacity
When you start adding various attachments to your forklift — such as sideshifts or fork positioners — for use in industrial settings, this can significantly alter the stated load capacity ratings for your machine. Because the dynamics inherently change, so too do the load capacities. Check the capacity ratings listed for each attachment you use, as they all have different requirements and derated capacities.
4. Gross Capacity vs. Net Capacity
Gross capacity is a rating that encompasses the base chassis up to a specific height, length or load width, designed as an overall guidance rating for most forklifts. Net capacity is more specific to each unit, taking into consideration a variety of factors such as model, mast height, attachments and more. For example, the net capacity of your forklift will be reduced the higher and heavier you load.
Ensuring a high level of safety in the workplace is dependent on the correct use of all forklifts. Follow all stated ratings and don’t estimate unless you have no other alternative.