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How Much Does a Forklift Weigh?

Posted by: admin on January 20, 2023

how much does a forklift weighForklifts are an essential piece of equipment for many warehouses; however, knowing the weight of a forklift is about more than just being able to transport them. Understanding your lift’s weight can help you create a safe work environment for your employees by ensuring their load lifting capacity does not exceed the rated capacity of any particular forklift. Knowing how much a forklift weighs also helps ensure that vehicle operators can safely and efficiently make pick-ups and deliveries, reducing potential delays or hazardous conditions that could result from overloading the lift truck with too much material or cargo. Ready to get a better idea of exactly how much these powerful machines weigh? Read on as we take an in depth look at forklift weights!

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.

Forklift Load Stability Terms and Definitions Explained

Center of Gravity – The point on an object at which all the object’s weight is concentrated. For symmetrical loads, the center of gravity is at the middle of the load. To ensure a safe lift off the ground with a forklift truck, it’s important to know where its center of gravity is located. Knowing this information helps determine how much weight can safely be lifted.

Fulcrum – The forklift’s axis of rotation when it tips over. It is important to understand where your truck’s fulcrum point is in order to avoid tipping or overturning during operation. The fulcrum point should always be lower than the center of gravity for optimum stability and safety.

Lateral Stability – A truck’s resistance to overturning sideways. With a high lateral stability rating, your forklift will have better balance when turning sharp corners or traversing uneven terrain. This will help prevent tipping or overturning accidents while increasing efficiency on the job site.

Line of Action – An imaginary vertical line through an object’s center of gravity (CG). Knowing where your CG is located relative to this line can help you determine how far out from your fulcrum point you can safely lift a load without tipping or overturning.

Load Center – The horizontal distance from the load’s edge to the line of action through the load’s CG. This measurement helps determine how much weight can safely be lifted by a forklift truck since different objects have different CG locations and weights that need to be considered for safe operation.

Longitudinal Stability – The truck’s resistance to overturning forward or rearward when accelerating or decelerating quickly on an incline or decline respectively; it also refers more generally to any sudden changes in direction that may cause an imbalance due to unequal distribution of weight across either side of the vehicle body frame and/or attachments mounted onto it (e.g., pallet forks).

Moment -The product of an object’s weight times the distance from a fixed point (usually the fulcrum). With forklifts, this calculation helps determine how far out from your fulcrum point you can safely lift a certain amount of weight without tipping or overturning—the further away from your fulcrum point you are able to lift with less force applied, then higher will be your lifting capacity without risking instability issues such as tipping over backwards due to too much weight being applied at one time on one side only (i.e., greater moment) versus evenly distributed across both sides (lesser moment).

FAQs about 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.

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. 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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