When, Why and How to Replace The Forks on your Forklift Truck

Nov 07 2019 Maintenance Tips

How long has it been since you’ve replaced the forks on your forklift truck? If you’re
questioning when, it might be a good time to take a closer look at your equipment.

Not replacing your forks in a timely fashion could lead to bending or breaking during
usage, posing serious safety risks to your operators. It makes sense to prioritize the
maintenance of your forklift truck, starting with the forks.

When should I replace the forks?

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer as to when to replace your forks.

According to OSHA 1910.178(q)(7), “Industrial trucks shall be examined before being
placed in service, and shall not be placed in service if the examination shows any
condition adversely affecting the safety of the vehicle. Such examination shall be
made at least daily.”

During these pre-trip inspections, operators must identify any potential safety
hazards by examining their forks thoroughly before operation. Forks that exhibit
signs of extreme wear or have other physical defects are unsafe to operate,
regardless of how long (or short) of a time they have been installed. Consequently,
relying on age or a date alone is not an effective way to keep up with
fork-replacements. Instead, replace your forks as soon as they become unsafe to
use.

Pre-Operation Fork Inspection: What am I looking for?

Determining the condition of your forks is an activity that should be occurring daily to
catch any changes in condition as soon as they happen. If you are staying OSHA
compliant, then you are already performing your pre-operation inspections daily and
are actively looking for signs of damage. But what should you look out for
specifically?

Here are some of the common issues that could impair your ability to operate your
forklift truck safely as listed in ANSI/ITSDF B56.1a-2018, section 6.2.8.11 Inspection:

  • The blade of shank of the fork is not aligned: The allowable deviation is 0.5% of
    the length of the blade and/or the height of the shank. Anything above that must
    be repaired or replaced.
  • The surface has cracks: Even small visible cracks pose big safety risks. Always
    replace forks with cracks.
  • The fork blade, shank or hooks are severely worn: If the fork has less than “90%
    of the original thickness”, it needs to be replaced.
  • The fork’s marking is illegible: If you can’t read the fork’s marking, contact the
    original supplier to have it renewed.
  • The positioning lock does not work: If the positioning lock is no longer working, it
    needs to be repaired or replaced immediately.
  • One fork-tip is higher than the other: The allowable height-difference between
    fork-tips is “3% of the length of the blade”. If the difference between your fork-tips
    exceeds this, then this is a clear sign that it’s time to replace them.
  • The fork angle from the blade to the shank are not aligned: For this
    measurement, anything more than “3 degrees from the original specification” is a
    safety hazard and needs to be repaired or replaced before use.

If you spot any of these issues or any other physical defects that could adversely
affect the operation of the forks, then it is more than likely time to replace them.

It’s time to replace my forks… now what?

You’ve done your pre-operation inspection, and guess what? It’s time for you to
replace the forks on your machine!

It is worth noting that in November, Morrison Industrial Equipment offers free fork and chain inspections to qualified customers in the Michigan and Northern Indiana area. This leads right up to their Winter Fork & Chain Sale in December and January, which will save you money on the replacement. You can buy all the parts you need, get them installed, AND save money; that’s a win-win.

Replacing the forks on your forklift truck is for so much more than just appearance
sake. Ensuring that your forks are in good condition is essential to staying safe and
remaining in compliance with OSHA equipment regulations. If you need a
replacement, don’t delay; contact your local Morrison Industrial branch today. After
all, safety can’t wait!
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1 http://www.--itsdf.org/forms/regusers/standards/1433_ITSDF-B56-1a-2018-rev-08-15-18.pdf and/or
https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/pit/forklift/basicparts/forks.html

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