Our Quick Guide to Fork Extensions

Forklifts are an immensely useful machine which are capable of lifting various different size loads and weights. Fork extensions come in handy for those loads that are simply too long, too bulky or oddly shaped to lift up safely. Fork extensions vary in lengths and widths, offering additional capabilities to your forklifts capacity. In this post we will give a quick overview of the different types of fork extensions that can be used, also looking at why they are used the way they are.

Fork extensions are a brilliant tool for forklifts and suit many work sites, they are also a budget friendly alternative to purchasing completely brand new forks. I will highlight key safety features, safety concerns and considerations such as stability, capacity and visibility for the operator and forklift that must be considered when using fork extensions.

In this post I will talk about:

  • Quick Overview Of Fork Extension
  • Why and when to use fork Extensions 
  • Getting the right size extensions for your needs 
  • How Are Fork Extensions Used and what type of fork extensions? 
  • Safety Recommendations for Using Forklift Extensions 
  • 3 Reasons forklift extensions can benefit you 
  • Know your Forklifts Load Capacity and 5 quick tips to safer lifting 

QUICK OVERVIEW OF FORK EXTENSION

Load handling and stability issues can both be solved and created by the use of fork extensions. They can allow forklift operators to lift wider and more awkward loads but this also has the effect of changing the load center which can affect the handling, stability and capacity.

Why do different forklift extensions change the trucks capacity?

The reason for this is because moving the loads center of gravity forward, creates more of an overturning moment which is very evident in an abrupt stop of the forklift.

The forklift load chart will tell where the load center is based on that particular model of forklift, you must keep in mind that when your using extensions, that you ensure you are keeping the forklifts load center as close to the back rest as much as possible, this will keep it balanced. Also knowing that the load center must never be more than half the length of the attached extension.

 

SOME SUGGESTIONS TO HELP YOU AVOID PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH USING EXTENSIONS

  • Make sure that operators inspect fork extensions just before each use and that they do not use damaged fork extensions.
  • The tip of the extension should never be used to pick up loads.
  • Keep the forklift plate capacity information updated to reflect the extension being used.


WHY AND WHEN TO USE FORK EXTENSIONS?

Dealing with oversized loads.

When lifting oversized equipment such as non-standard sized pallets or crates and rectangular crates use fork extensions. When using fork extensions the right way these loads can be dealt with properly and safely as using a regular standard sized forks these loads could possibly be unsafe to lift.

Minimising the risk to the operator and any nearby pedestrians is key in these situations. Lifting these oddly shaped loads unfortunately can cause it to be imbalanced and increases the likelihood of dropping the load or the forklift tipping over, so knowing when and how to use fork extensions can improve safety.

Dealing with specialized and delicate loads.

Fork Extensions can also be used to lift those delicate materials such as large rolls of carpeting or cloth which requires carefully loading and unloading them. Fork extensions can also be used for heavier loads such as steel and aluminium rolled material.

Other items such as bulky furniture, pianos, laminated mated rolls and other unusual products that cannot be handled easily with a standard forks but can be operated safely by using fork extensions.

In some instances fork extensions can speed up operations, an example in some cases carrying two pallets can take two trips but with the use of fork extensions and the pallets within load weight limits this can be done in one trip, doubling productivity and cutting travel time in half.

 

GETTING THE RIGHT SIZE EXTENSIONS FOR YOUR NEEDS

Keeping in mind the fork extension length to be added should not exceed the existing fork length by more that 66%, this will help in determining the length of extension you can use on your forklift. As with the length the width should not exceed more than ½ inch wider than the width of the current forks being used. An example being if you use forklift extensions with a length of 63 inches, you must make sure the load center does not exceed the middle point of 36 inches. Using the table below you can see the corresponding maximum extensions sizes.

HOW ARE FORK EXTENSIONS USED AND WHAT TYPE OF FORK EXTENSIONS?

Fork extensions are simply slide on and slide off attachments, they fit over the forks on a forklift and simply rest on top of the forks. They are locked into position usually by a pin and loop at the end to ensure they do not slip off when in use, this makes it easier for the operator to attach them on and take off the extensions.

 

TYPES USED:

FORK SLEEVE EXTENSION - RADIUS TOP

These fork protection sleeves are made from a heavy duty 8 mm thick steel,  with additional 5 mm thick internal strengthening plates. We also incorporate a fully formed profile toe with end cap for added strength. These extensions also have fixed retaining bars for quick removing of the pin. This ensures it safely secures the fork sleeves to the truck forks. Manufactured to conform to ISO 13284 British Standards, our radius top fork sleeves offer the perfect solution for handling rolled products where fork edges can cause damage. Like all our forklift attachments, the fork sleeves will come fully tested and certified to comply with the latest Health & Safety Regulations.

 

STANDARD FORK EXTENSIONS

These fork extensions are ideal, offering longer reach and stabilizing capabilities for when you need it, whilst retaining the maneuverability of the lift truck for conventional operating. Manufactured from heavy duty 5mm thick steel with additional 8mm thick internal strengthening plates, incorporating a fully rounded toe, with heavy duty capping, for easy entry into and out of loads or pallets. It also includes a removable pin allowing for drive in entry, this negates the need for manual lifting, whilst ensuring the fork extensions are safely secured.

TRIANGULAR FORK SLEEVE EXTENSIONS

Offering all the same characteristics as our heavy duty fork extensions, these triangular fork sleeves come with the added feature of an angled face plate to allow cylindrical loads such as paper reels, cable drums etc. to be handled with a forklift without the product rolling off the forks. These sleeves are built from heavy duty 8 mm thick steel with additional 5 mm thick internal strengthening plates. We also incorporate a fully formed profile toe with end cap for added strength. Includes a removable pin used instead when sleeve length is greater than 2000mm, this safely secures the fork sleeves to the trucks forks.

 

Safety Recommendations When Using Forklift Extensions

Knowing the hazards and potential safety issues surrounding fork attachments must be considered and knowing more about them will reduce the likelihood of an incident.

Some hazards include forklift tip overs, overloading the forklift when the weight of the fork attachment starts decreasing the lifting capacities and also possibility of falling loads.

To ensure forklift safety when in use and especially when using attachments or extensions, following these safety tips will help.

  • Train operators properly in fork extension operations and know the lifting load limits.

  • Remember to retrain operators when a new attachment is added.

  • Every 6 months inspect your forklift attachment, looking for cracks and deformation at load bearing areas.

  • Ensure overloading of the forklift does not happen.

  • Fork extensions suit light bulky loads better, note if the load will exceed the maximum loads center then longer forklifts are better suited than using fork extensions.

  • Make sure than the forklift extensions being used are the correct width size for the forklift, the fork inside width should not exceed the fork extension width by more than ½ inche.

  • Know the limitations of your forklift and do not exceed these.

 

3 REASONS FORKLIFT EXTENSIONS CAN BENEFIT YOU

  • Alternative to purchasing completely brand new forks

  • Improves warehouse productivity (Lifting more awkward loads)

  • Greater capabilities for your standard forklift truck

 

KNOW YOUR FORKLIFTS LOAD CAPACITY AND 5 QUICK TIPS TO SAFER LIFTING  

The forklifts load capacities are determined by getting the maximum weight that a forklift can safely carry at its specific load center. When the load is off center then the capacity of the forklift will be reduced and fork extensions play a part in varying the load center.

Getting information about the forklift capacity and load centers is easy as the data plate can be read and the specific information needed can be found here.

Finding out the load capacity that each forklift can lift safely can be found here when either lifting at different mast angles or with attachments. The individual plate should show the lifting height, load center distance, load capacity, brand with model number.

 

5 QUICK LIFTING TIPS

  1. Always know the weight of the loads to be lifted using scales to weigh

  2. Counteract an exceeded load center by reducing the weight of the load

  3. Oversized loads can be estimated to get there weights

  4. When buying forklift extensions think about buying larger capacities than are actually needed

  5. Understand and get to know the capacities of your forklift

 

SUMMARY

In summary fork extensions are simply a budget friendly alternative to purchasing completely brand new forks and when used correctly they can improve productivity within your work site and speed up your warehouse flow. They are simple product to use and can be attached by just one person. it is important to take the time to know which product is right for you and your needs when purchasing.

We hope you liked our quick and short guide to fork extensions,

check out our range of forklift attachments here. All our products are ‘CE’ marked and supplied with Certificate of Conformity to meet Health & Safety Regulations.