When it comes to improvements in efficiency, there is a vast array of forklift attachments and extentions on the market that have the potential to increase your logistics productivity.
With so many forklift accessories to choose from, selecting the right forklift attachment for your requirements can be tricky. Keeping in mind the aim of expanding functionality, we take a look at a few of the most common forklift extensions available, as well as some best practice and safety recommendations.
How to safely use forklift attachments
When using forklift extensions, the potential for overloading increases. The weight and positioning of the attachment has considerable impact on load lifting capacity and fulcrum points.
If these are not correctly understood, there is increased risk of the forklift tipping over and causing injury. By following a few key forklift accessory instructions, it is possible to avoid such incidents.
- Use forklift extensions for light unwieldy loads but not for loads that exceed the maximum load recommendation
- Ensure separate training for each type of forklift accessory to be used and provide regular retraining as necessary
- Make sure that maximum lift capacities have been correctly advised
- Avoid picking up loads with the tip of a fork extension. All loads should be balanced over the centre of the fork
- Remember that an empty forklift with forklift extensions in place can behave like a loaded forklift
- Establish a regular inspection routine for forklift attachments and check for distortion and cracks in load bearing welds and components
Recommended training for the use of forklift attachments
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidelines for the safe use of lift trucks recommend that bulkier loads should only be lifted with the correct forklift attachments fitted.
‘Always use suitable attachments for lifting unusual or wide loads and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.’
The guidelines also make it very clear that the only safe way to operate a truck with forklift accessories is to make sure that recommended training has taken place and that the lift truck’s load capacity has been reduced.
‘Always ensure you are properly trained, competent and authorised to operate the lift truck with the attachment being used.’
‘Never use an attachment unless a competent person, an authorised dealer or manufacturer has derated the lift truck (reduced the actual capacity).’
Professional lift truck training in the use of forklift attachments is vital to ensure that forklift accidents such as tip-overs, crushes and falling loads are to be avoided.
Spotting and mitigating the individual potential hazards faced when using forklift accessories, requires training and experience; all employees engaged in the use of these should be provided with training, support and review opportunities.
Types of forklift accessory – side shifters
Accurate fork positioning can make load moving quicker and more fuel efficient, and will reduce manoeuvring time. The side shifter attachment is standard on many lift trucks, and allows the forks to be moved, in small increments, from side to side in order to correctly align the forks and the pallet.
Types of forklift accessory – fork positioners
Whereas side shifters move the whole fork from side to side, fork positioners move the tines in or out to better fit a load. This flexibility is particularly useful for unusually shaped loads or pallets of difference sizes.
Types of forklift accessory – fork mounted man-riding baskets
Lifting a person without a specific recommended forklift attachment contradicts HSE health and safety rules.
‘Never lift a person on the forks, or on a pallet, or similar, balanced on the forks.’
However, man-riding and access platforms are available and can help where people need to be lifted to a work area that might not be accessible via a ladder.
Man-riding baskets all have a load rating and can also be used to lift loads to a raised working area. All people using a man-riding basket should wear fall protection equipment.
Types of forklift accessory – lift truck mounted drum-handling attachments
Not all loads come conveniently stacked onto pallets and a drum-handling forklift attachment offers a convenient and safe solution for those who need to regularly move drums around.
Drum-handling attachments either slide onto the forks or attach directly to the carriage and enable the operator to lift, secure and sometimes tip drums safely and efficiently. Similar attachments are available for wheelie bin handling.
Types of forklift accessory – lift truck scoop attachments
Lift truck scoop attachments are really useful for loose waste and loads of materials such as sand, aggregate or gravel. This really is a case of obtaining the right equipment for the right purpose, as design options vary greatly.
These options include compact forklift buckets that can take heavier loads such as wet sand, and long-reach lift truck scoops, which allow the operator to unload into the back of a lorry.
The advantages and disadvantages of forklift accessories
Purchasing a forklift accessory represents considerable investment so it is important to weigh up the pros and cons before you do so.
Forklift attachments allow you to transport loads of increased weight and size in a much easier and safer manner but it is important to make sure that the correct attachment for both your load and your forklift is used. Driver and warehouse safety should always be paramount in purchase, forklift fleet maintenance and training decisions.
Your forklift training needs
Whatever your lift truck or forklift attachment training needs, we are proud to offer Association of Industrial Truck Trainers (AITT) accredited courses.
If you are thinking about introducing a forklift extension or accessory to your workforce, we can provide the training and certification required. At AFTT we offer a comprehensive range of lift truck and forklift training for everybody from management to the warehouse floor.
Get in touch today on 01438 222157 for a free, no-obligation quote and find out how we can help you meet your training requirements.