How to Keep a Forklift from Tipping Over?


Forklift tip-over is one of the most common causes of forklift accidents. 100,000 forklifts are victim to an accident every year in the United States alone according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), of which 35,000 forklift accidents are considered serious or fatal. Though the safety for forklift operators and the material handling industry, in general, has come a long way in the past few decades, yet accidents still take place at least occasionally, if not regularly.

A part of the problem is insufficient operator training before operating the forklift yet that is not the root cause. As mentioned above, almost all forklift accidents occur when the forklift tips over in the area of operation and even though modern forklift designs, such as those of the Moffett piggyback forklifts aim to minimize forklift tip over, it still poses a serious problem. That is why it is necessary for every fleet manager and forklift operator to be familiar with the safety guidelines and be aware of methods to prevent the tip over of forklifts.

Of course, there are many factors that contribute to the tipping over of a forklift, many of which may vary from incident to incident. Yet, the one common denominator in almost all forklift tip-over incidents is a loss of stability when the forklift is equipped with the load rather than when it is unloaded. Let us look at the physics behind a forklift tipping over, what can be done to avoid it and how modern forklifts minimize tipping over chances to the greatest extent.

The Physics behind a Forklift Tip Over

The term that you need to be familiar with is the “Center of Gravity”. The center of gravity of any object lies at its center and the object is most stable when the center of gravity is lowest or closest to the ground. An unloaded forklift’s center of gravity lies in the center and low to the ground which makes it stable, but when the same forklift lifts a load, the center of gravity changes. It no longer remains the forklift’s center of gravity but now becomes the combined center of gravity of both the forklift and the load. As such, too heavy a load would drag the combined center of gravity out of the “Triangle of Stability” and when that happens, the forklift tips to the side the center of gravity moves to.

The counterbalance forklift uses the counterbalance at the opposite end of the load to keep the combined center of gravity within the triangle of stability. Whereas Moffett fork trucks have, hydraulic stabilizers that keep the forklift stabilized during transfer of loads. However, no matter what mechanism is used, all forklifts aim to keep the center of gravity as low to the ground and in the center of the moving body as possible.

Moffett forklifts, in fact, are renowned for having exceptional stability and if you buy a Moffett from retailers such as Bobby Park Truck & Equipment, then they offer expert advice on how to maintain forklift stability.

What to Do To Keep the Forklift Upright?

Now that we know why the forklift tips over, it is easier to devise methods to keep it upright. Since the center of gravity must stay within the triangle of stability, therefore the following can be done to avoid a forklift tip over:

  1. Lift loads within the designated capacity of the forklift, since a heavier load would make the forklift tip forward.
  2. Drive the forklift slowly and within the recommended speed guidelines. This is especially important while taking a turn since a fast turn (with or without a load) can cause the forklift to tip over sideways.
  3. Be sure that you drive the forklift on a nice solid flat surface since a sloped surface would make it easier for the forklift’s weight distribution to be messed up and make it tip over.
  4. Keep the mast lowered while carrying weights since a raised mast raises the center of gravity away from the ground. This increases the chances of the forklift tipping over.
  5. Do not run over or collide with any external object since forklifts do not have the best weight distribution, to begin with. If a collision occurs then a forklift’s center of gravity will move out of the triangle of stability and cause it to tip over.

What to Do If the Forklift Tips Over?

First, wear your seat belt at all times, especially because there is a risk that the forklift will tip over. The seat belt keeps the driver from being thrown from the falling forklift and prevents them from being crushed by the forklift or the weight itself. Moffett forklifts are regarded as having the best safety features among contemporary forklifts and as such, they remain the choice for the vast majority of businesses, not only in the United States but also all over the world.

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