For anyone working in the material handling industry, knowing details about the machines used and their technical capabilities is essential. Forklifts are perhaps the most widely used material moving machinery, not only in the United States, but also all over the world. According to one estimate, there are over 855,000 forklifts used in the United States each year.
However, despite their common use, it may not always be clear how some parts of a forklift function or what uses they serve. Certainly, newer forklift models such as Moffett piggyback forklifts come with advanced features and components that all operators and fleet managers need to familiarize themselves with. One of the most widely used (yet commonly overlooked) components of a forklift is the forklift extensions.
Though many people might have a vague understanding of what these extensions are and how they work, yet that is not good enough. Certainly not good, enough for professionals working with forklifts day in and day out. That is why, it is essential to have a more comprehensive understanding of what forklift extensions are, how they function and help in enhancing the performance of a forklift and what is the correct way of using a forklift extension.
It is also prudent to mention some safety tips since using forklift extensions also increases the chances of an accident occurring, that is why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets strict safety regulations for the use of forklift extensions.
Purpose of Forklift Extensions
Let us start with the understanding what a forklift extension is and what uses it can serve. A forklift extension is any load bearing structure, that is fixed or slides onto the forks of a forklift to increases and enhance its load bearing capacity. The purpose of a forklift extension is to not only increase the capacity and load bearing power of the forklift but also provide stability to the load it carries.
The extension can give stability to any oddly shaped load that would otherwise be difficult to carry on the original forks of the forklift due to its dimensions. As such, a forklift extension is of use widely in all sectors from agriculture and construction to poultry and industrial sectors.
What Does OSHA Say About Extensions?
The OSHA poses strict safety regulations on the use of extensions since they increase the weight of the forklift itself and increase the breadth of the machinery. While this may be fine in outdoor operation sites, it may pose a risk in warehouse operations.
That is why modern forklifts such as Moffett fork trucks come equipped with hydraulic stabilizers to give extra stability to offset the impact of adding a forklift extension. In fact, retailers of Moffett forklifts such as Bobby Park Truck & Equipment can offer expert advice on how to use forklift extensions safely. Although the OSHA imposed strict conditions on the use of forklift extensions in the past, for example, asking direct written permission from the manufacturer of the forklift for the use of extension on a forklift, however, it has since reduced the requirements. Now only the approval of a certified engineer is a requirement in order to use extensions on a forklift, which has made the use of forklift extensions widespread and common in several sectors.
How to Use Forklift Extensions Safely?
Though forklift attachments and extensions can be immensely useful, yet their use can impose several safety risks. The most common risk is that of forklift tip over since, adding an attachment causes the center of gravity of the forklift to move outwards and thus the forklift has more chances of tipping over. As such, there are some tips that operators can employ in order to avoid incidents with forklift attachments.
- Do not lift loads that exceed the maximum safe capacity of the forklift even with the attachment since it can cause the attachments to break off and the forklift to tip over.
- Do not use forklift attachments that exceed the original length of the forklift by 1.5 times. This can cause issues when working in confined spaces such as warehouses.
- Always assume that the extension itself is a load on the forks of a forklift. This will allow better operation of the forklift.
- As a fleet manager, it is essential to hire operators who are well versed in the use of forklift extensions and to retrain any existing operators in the use of forklift attachments.
- Inspection of the forklifts is necessary in maintaining safety standards. This involves inspecting the attachment for damage and deformities.
This was just some of the basic information you need to understand what forklift extensions are all about. In order to understand which forklift attachment suits your forklift, you need to be aware of the type of forklift you are using and the load it will be carrying.