Forklift Safety Newsletter – February 2016 – Telehandlers

Telehandlers: Just Another Forklift?

Telehandlers are defined as: A vehicle with a telescopically extensible boom, which can be fitted with various lifting telehandlers 1or manipulative devices such as pallet forks. The word is a combination of telescopic and handler.

The use of telehandlers has exploded due to their ability to lift, transport, and stack material, particularly on construction sites. But are these devices just another type of counter-balanced forklift? If someone can operate a standard forklift, are they qualified to operate a telehandler?
The short answer is: No.telehandlers 2

The longer answer is based on the fact that a telehandler is actually a combination of a forklift and a crane. Depending on the type of attachment they have, they may fall under OSHA’s crane requirements which introduces a whole new set of standards to the operation of these devices.

Telehandlers differ from sit-down counterbalanced forklifts in a number of important ways including:

  • The capability to elevate and extend a load away from the chassis which greatly increases the chances of a tipover.
  • Being designed with a variety of steering modes.
  • Availability of a wider variety of attachments including ones used for suspended loads.
  • A wider variety of designs including rotating turrets.
  • Requirements for the operator to refer to load charts and calculate the weight of each load.
  • Incorporation of chassis leveling, outriggers, load management systems, and limiters.

The reality is that the operation of a telehandler requires a greater degree of knowledge and skill than a sit-down counterbalanced forklift operator.

If your crews are operating this equipment, you may want to look into D2000’s Telehandler Operator Certification program to ensure that they understand the limitations and best practices associated with telehandlers.

If you would like to share your experiences/photos of forklift incidents that can educate others on the principles of safe forklift operation please send them to:

We will not publish company or individuals names.

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Bruce Hulberg February 8, 2016
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