Forklift Chain Stretch – Forklift Safety Newsletter – November 2013

Forklift Chain Stretch

Why should a forklift operator be concerned with forklift chain stretch?

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Example of Forklift chain stretch.

Forklift chain stretch isn’t necessarily something that most forklift operator’s even think about. Yet it has a huge bearing on the safe operation of your lift truck. Think about it! Forklift operators rely on their chains to lift thousands of pounds daily. And what happens when the chains break? Your load is coming down RIGHT NOW!!! That can lead to property damage, production down time, forklift down time for repairs, and injury!

The rate of forklift chain stretch increases when operators repeatedly exceed the lifting capacity of their forklifts. A few operators have even modified their forklifts by adding additional weight to their forklifts counterweight with the intent of increasing the lifting capacity of their forklift. However, the end result is increasing the likelihood that their chains will break.
This can be costly!

This photo compares a section of old chain (on left) with new chain (on right). Notice how dramatically the old chain is stretched. The stretch typically occurs around the eye of the link and is visible when you examine the gap between the chain plates. Chain stretch is most noticeable on parts of the chain that travel over the rollers.

Forks are normally adjusted so that in the down position there is a 1/4” gap between the bottom of the fork and the floor. As the chain stretches the gap disappears and the forks wear out prematurely.

1) Train your forklift operators how to inspect forklift chains.
2) Lubricate and adjust chains regularly.
3) Replace forklift chains BEFORE they wear out!

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 10, 2016
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