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Forklift Weight and Forklift Capacity – Essential Calculations

Posted by: admin on March 22, 2022

How much does a forklift weigh? Figuring out a forklift’s weight is crucial for ensuring the safety of your workers and your property. With insights into forklift weight, your workers can safely handle various loads, and your forklift can be safely shipped or transported to a distant worksite. In addition, you can verify that a forklift’s weight does not exceed the weight capacity of a structure where it will be used.

A forklift safety training program teaches workers about the importance of forklift weight, how to weigh a forklift, and safely operating and maintaining a lift. In addition, your drivers will learn about forklift capacity, load moment, and how to calculate safe lifting for various loads. In doing so, the program enables workers to minimize the risk of forklift accidents, injuries, and fatalities. It also allows workers to become OSHA-certified forklift operators — and can help your business avoid OSHA penalties.

How Heavy Is a Forklift?

The average weight of a forklift is roughly 9,000 lbs. Comparatively, the average automobile weighs about 3,000 lbs.

A forklift is designed with a significant counterweight over its rear wheels to offset the weight of the loads they lift. The front axle acts as the fulcrum of the forklift. Without the counterweight in the rear, a forklift would overturn when lifting a loaded pallet. This critical concern is why your workers need to understand load center and load moment as well as forklift weight and capacity.

Is Forklift Weight the Same As Forklift Capacity?

Forklift weight and forklift capacity are not interchangeable. In order to safely operate a forklift, it is paramount for workers to understand the difference between the two terms.

Whereas forklift weight refers to the actual weight of the lift, capacity describes the amount of weight that a lift can hold. Typically, forklift capacities vary from 3,000 lbs. to more than 70,000 lbs. Furthermore, OSHA requires forklift operators to handle only loads rated for the capacity of their truck.

Is Forklift Weight the Same As Forklift Capacity?

Forklift weight and forklift capacity are not interchangeable. In order to safely operate a forklift, it is paramount for workers to understand the difference between the two terms.

Whereas forklift weight refers to the actual weight of the lift, capacity describes the amount of weight that a lift can hold. Generally, average forklift lifting capacities vary from 3,000 lbs. to more than 70,000 lbs. Furthermore, OSHA requires forklift operators to handle only loads rated for the capacity of their truck.

How to Determine Forklift Weight and Capacity

A forklift usually includes a manufacturer’s tag that provides information about the lift’s weight. The total weight is listed as “service weight,” which refers to the weight of the truck, its battery,  and all of its attachments.

Meanwhile, a forklift’s data plate contains information about its capacity. The plate will include details about the forklift’s rated capacity for a specific weight at a particular height, for example:5,000 lbs. at a 24″ load center. (As a general rule, the load center is 24” — or the center point of a standard 48” x 48” pallet — from the face of the forks). The data plate also offers information about down-rated capacity, which accounts for the lift’s maximum fork height, side shifter, and other vehicle attachments.

Can You Estimate Forklift Weight?

It is possible to estimate a forklift’s weight based on the vehicle’s capacity. To calculate a lift’s weight, you can multiply its capacity by 1.5, then by 2. This can help you estimate the lift’s weight — and ensure you can use the lift safely at various worksites.

Understanding Load Moment

Any discussion of a forklift’s capacity to lift weight must also consider the load center and load moment. As seen above, forklifts are rated not just for a specific weight but also for a particular load center. This is because too much weight on the forks could tip the forklift over — a hazardous occurrence. Weight X is lifted easily when positioned with its center mass close to the fulcrum (in a forklift, the front wheels’ axle), yet can tip the forklift over if the load center is shifted too far toward the fork tips. 

Calculation of load moment is Load Moment = Weight x Distance. So you can see that the same 5,000 lb weight from above has a load moment of 120,000 inch-pounds when multiplied by the 24” load center, but the load moment climbs to 180,000 inch-pounds when the load center moves to 36”.

Essentially, the load moment measures the overturning force applied to the forks of the lift.

Can You Estimate Forklift Capacity?

Understanding load moment, you can calculate a forklift’s capacity.  If a forklift’s capacity is rated at 5,000 lbs. at a 24” load center, then what would it be at a 36” load center? Simply take the rated load center (24”) and divide it by the actual load center (36”), then multiply the resulting number by the stated capacity (5,000 lbs.). This calculation gives you the approximate safe load capacity with the new load center.

24 ÷ 36 x 5,000 lbs. = 3,333 lbs, or an approximate capacity of 3,333 lbs. at a load center of 36”.

Learn More About Forklift Weights and Capacities 

Understanding forklift weight, forklift capacity, load center, load moment, and how these variables interact will make your workers safer forklift drivers you can rely on.

CertifyMe.net offers a comprehensive forklift safety training program that teaches workers about forklift weight, forklift lifting capacity, and other safety topics. Our program can be completed online — usually in one hour or less — and ensures your business can comply with OSHA’s forklift safety training requirements. This keeps your workers safe from injury, your property protected from damage, and your bottom line secure from hefty OSHA fines. To learn more or to enroll your workers in our forklift safety training program, please contact us online or call us today at 1-888-699-4800.

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