Forklift Lifting a Forklift: A Question of Safety
For moving heavy objects in warehouses, distribution centres and manufacturing facilities, forklifts are absolutely essential.
However, if not properly operated they can be dangerous for operators and other staff alike.
One of the most common safety hazards involving forklifts is the practice of using one forklift to lift another. Today, we at Trucks Direct UK are going to outline why, exactly, this presents a major safety concern.
The Risks of Forklift Lifting
Lifting a forklift with another forklift is inherently dangerous due to the following factors:
- Overloading: Every forklift, however big or small, has a loading capacity. In 99% of cases, lifting another forklift would exceed the load capacity. The result? Putting strain on the lifting forks, stabilisers and axles.
- Instability: When performing such a task, instability is a significant concern. Not only would this cause serious damage to both forklifts but it could potentially injure operators or bystanders.
- Hydraulic Failure: The excessive weight and strain can cause hydraulic failures in the lifting forks, stabilisers and other hydraulic components, leading to sudden drops or uncontrolled movements.
- Communication Issues: Because of the aforementioned issues, it may be stressful for the operator. This can lead to communication problems which, in most cases, will result in an accident or injury.
Safer Alternatives to Forklift Lifting
There are safer alternatives than using one forklift to lift another. The following would be effective and safer:
- Use a Load Spreader: A load spreader, also known as a forklift spread beam or pallet spread, can evenly distribute the load between two or more forklifts, reducing the risk of overloading or tipping. However, the below point is still considered the safest option.
- Utilise Dedicated Machinery: Specialised lifting equipment, such as cranes, hoists, or straddle carriers, would be more compatible with the load requirements. As such, you should seek to use dedicated machinery where possible.
Avoiding Forklift Lifting Unsafe Practices
Forklift operators and supervisors should strictly adhere to the following guidelines to prevent forklift lifting accidents:
- Never lift a forklift with another forklift.
- Use load spreaders or dedicated lifting equipment for heavy lifting tasks.
- Ensure clear communication between forklift operators to avoid collisions or interference.
- Conduct regular inspections and maintenance of forklifts to maintain their structural integrity and hydraulic systems.
- Follow all safety regulations and guidelines set by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and industry standards.
Forklift lifting is a risky practice that should always be avoided. As stipulated, the safer alternative is to use dedicated heavy load machinery. Moreover, you should seek the help of an expert where possible.
Assigning an inexperienced staff member to perform such a task is likely to result in accident or injury.
If you have any questions regarding the compatibility of your forklift with your current operation, contact our experts.