When Do Forklift Forks Need to be Replaced?

Nov 15, 2019
forklift rental

Ongoing use (or misuse) can cause wear, cracks and bends to your lift truck forks. Here's how to conduct a thorough inspection and determine when forks need to be replaced.

Did you know that nearly 30% of all forklift forks fail independent safety inspections?  Many people assume that the heavy steel forks on their lift truck will never wear out, but daily wear and tear, combined with occasional misuse or accidents can and do make forks fail eventually. 

With regular use, the steel on your forks wears away. Forks can also develop cracks or bends when operators collide with walls or columns.  Improper chain adjustments can put undue stress on forks, and overloading a fork beyond its rated capacity can compromise its structural integrity.  Some forklift attachments can also cause premature wear on forks.

Worn or damaged forks typically break under load, which may result in product damage, rack damage, injury or worse. That’s why routine inspections of your forks are so important.  Beyond risk mitigation, there are also requirements from OSHA and ANSI/ITSDF for regular fork inspection.  Here are a few tips on inspecting your forks:

  • Measure thickness: check the wear on your forks by using calipers. A 10% decrease in thickness reduces your load capacity by 20%. Although forks wear slowly, they need to be checked regularly.
  • Look for surface cracks: carefully inspect the entire fork for cracks, paying special attention to the welds and the heel area.
  • Look for bends: examine the blade and the shank to make sure they are straight and true. Any bends mean that the fork needs to be replaced.
  • Check the angles: if the shank or blade is beyond 93 degrees the fork needs to be replaced. Forks cannot be bent back into place once they are compromised.
  • Look for uneven forks: the height of your fork tips needs to be closely aligned. A variance in tip heights can’t be more than 3% of the length of the blade. For example, 48 inch forks can’t go beyond a 1 and 7/16 inches variance.
  • Check the positioning lock: make sure that the lock is functioning correctly.

If you have questions about fork safety or need to replace forks, call Raymond West today at 562-944-8067.