Be Aware of Fork Position

Forklift operators should be aware of the position of the forks whether the forklift is loaded, unloaded, parked, in motion, or lifting an item. Knowing the position of the fork will help them assess the risk level accurately in different scenarios.

When the forks are in the wrong position they can make the vehicle less stable especially when carrying a load. Incorrectly positioned forks also create a tripping hazard when the vehicle is parked and cause more severe injuries in an accident involving the forklift.

Fork Position When Parked

When a forklift is parked, the forks should be positioned to make them less of a tripping hazard. The forks should be as low as possible with the tips flat on the ground. This is achieved by tilting them downwards before lowering them completely.

The forks should not be lowered to the ground before being tilted because this stresses the lifting mechanisms when the forks are lifted by the next driver.

Fork Position When Moving

When the forklift is in motion the forks should be no less than 2 inches off the ground on flat surfaces. Some forklift manufacturers recommend at least 4 inches. This ensures the forks clear any uneven areas, inclines, slopes, or debris on the ground.

When using the forklift outdoors, the forks should be slightly higher to ensure they clear rocks or anything else on the ground.

The forks should not be more than 10 inches off the ground when the vehicle is moving. Some experts recommend a maximum of 8 inches. If the fork is carrying a load, the forks and the load should be tilted backward. This helps to keep the forklift stable.

The fork position should never be adjusted when the vehicle is in motion.

The Role of Operator Training

The best way to ensure operators position forks properly is with proper training. Operators will need to adjust the position of the fork many times in a shift including when:

  • Parking the forklift
  • Picking up a load
  • Unloading to an elevated position
  • Moving around without a load, etc.

They will need a lot of training and reinforcement training to remember how to position the forks correctly in each situation.

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