Forklift Safety Newsletter – Fork Extensions: Good Idea or Not?

Fork Extensions: Good Idea or Not?

Fork extensions can both solve and create load handling problems. They allow operators to handle wider loads, but they change the load center which affects stability and capacity.

Fork extensions

Why do extensions change the truck’s capacity? This is because the farther you move the load’s center of gravity (load center) forward, the more overturning moment you are creating. This is particularly evident in the event of a sudden stop.

Forklift load charts are usually based on the load center being about 24 inches in front of the backrest. When using extensions, you need to ensure that you are keeping the load center as close to the backrest as practical and never more than half of the length of the extension.

Load characteristics and equipment capacities vary widely, but we can offer some general safety guidelines for using extensions:

  • The inside width of the extension must not exceed the width of the fork by more than 1/2”.
  • The length of the fork extension cannot be longer than 1½ times the length of your fork. (A standard 48” fork cannot have an extension longer than 72”.
  • Each fork extension must be capable of supporting a uniformly distributed load of three times its rated capacity when mounted on the specified fork.
  • Extensions must be stamped with the load rating and fork size.
  • Fork extensions must be designed and used to avoid unintentional disengagement from the forks.

Here are some suggestions to help you avoid problems associated with using extensions.

  • Update forklift capacity plates to reflect the use of extensions.
  • Train your operators on the proper use and installation of extensions.
  • Ensure that operators inspect fork extensions before each use and that they do not use damaged fork extensions.
  • Never pick up a load with the tip of the extension.

Finally, if operators often handle loads that require extensions, a better option may be to simply purchase longer forks.

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:

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Bruce Hulberg August 29, 2017
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