Common Causes of a Forklift Tip Over
A forklift tip over is a major inconvenience in and around the workplace. They cause delays in operations, can be costly if major damages occur to the vehicle and, of course, can be incredibly dangerous to those in the surrounding vicinity.
Forklifts are relatively stable pieces of technology so long as the centre of gravity is directly above the vehicle’s wheelbase. However, when a forklift topples over, it is either in a forward or sideways direction depending on the application the forklift is being used in. For example, a longitudinal tip over occurs when the centre of gravity moves too far forward, which can happen when a forklift truck is driven down a ramp. A sideways tip over occurs when the centre of gravity shifts too far either side of the wheelbase, which can happen during sharp turns in the warehouse. As such, this article will take you through:
- Common causes of a forklift tipping over
- Forklift tip over procedure
- Final considerations
Common Causes of a Forklift Tipping Over
Below we have listed some of the common scenarios that can cause a forklift to tip over:
Accelerating or Braking Too Quickly
Accelerating too quickly or braking to suddenly while in the forklift can cause the centre of gravity to shift and result in the forklift becoming unbalanced. Taking slow and easy precautions when operating the forklift will prevent any imbalances in the forklift’s wheelbase and will prevent tip over potential.
Carrying Loads Heavier Than Recommended Load Ratings
Probably the most common cause of a forklift tip over is when the load is heavier than the recommended load level on a forklift. When the load exceeds the recommended amount, the lift becomes unstable and prone to tipping over. Always ensure you look at the forklifts maximum load capacity when operating them.
Turning Too Fast
Turning too quickly while in a forklift can cause the forklift’s centre of gravity to shift and can cause the wheel on one side of the lift to be raised off the ground. It’s highly unlikely that the operator will be able to recover if they are travelling too fast in a forklift so enforcing strict speed limits are recommended to minimise tip overs.
Lifting or Lowering a Load on a Slope
Lifting or lowering a load while working on a slope can shift the centre of gravity and cause a forklift tip over. It is imperative that the forklift is stable whenever they are being utilised on a slope, and forklift operators need to be aware of unstable loads that can shift while being transported.
Driving Over Potholes Other Obstacles
Unexpectedly driving over a pothole, or other obstacle in the warehouse, can cause a shift of momentum and can cause the wheels to buckle over. Therefore, it is vital to make sure the space you are operating is clear. Other examples of obstacles that can cause your forklift to tip over consist of kerbs or discarded pallets.
Forklift Tip Over Procedure
Some of you reading may be wondering, “What should you do if the forklift tips over?”. Well, below we have come up with a forklift tip over procedure to help you if such situation arises.
The first thing to do is to not panic. If you happen to see someone that looks like their truck may topple over, alert a first aider or upper management immediately who will be able to take the necessary actions to rectify the problem. Equally, if you happen to be operating forklift there are four steps to take to greatly minimise risk of injury:
- Stay in the truck with feet tucked in
- Hold on firmly to the steering wheel
- Lean away from the point of impact
- Brace for impact
Other forklift tip over procedure precautions you should incorporate in your warehouse operations consist of:
- Wear a seatbelt when operating a forklift
- Keep the forks low to the ground (approx three inches off the ground)
- Do not give anyone a ride on a forklift
- Drive a forklift at the correct speed
- Watch for bumps and loose objects around the warehouse
- Avoid icy, wet and oily surfaces
- Do not approach anyone on a forklift head on
Unfortunately, despite all the necessary forklift tip over procedures, a forklift is likely to tip over at some point during its life cycle. The best thing warehouse managers and employees can do if a forklift tips over, is to identify and learn the cause of the incident so that they can rectify it in the future. If there was an obstacle in the way which causes the forklift to tip over, enforce a clear space policy before forklift operations. Alternatively, if an employee topples the forklift over, invite the employee to a forklift training session so that they can be better equipped to operate the forklift.