Forklift forks will become thin over time due to daily operation in the workplace. Forklift attachments & accessories, such as drum handlers, can also cause damage if pushed past the forks limits. Improper use often results in damage, as well.
If forklift forks break or malfunction while carrying a heavy load, not only can it lead to loss of product, but it can cause damage to property or the forklift itself. It can also cause personal injury to the operator or nearby pedestrians.
Forklift forks should be visually inspected on a per-operation basis, but it is recommended that once a year you inspect your forklift forks thoroughly for damage or wear. Here are some things to look for when inspecting your forks.
Forklift Fork Inspection
- Normal wear. Use a special fork caliper tool to measure the heel and blade for wear. If the wear reaches 10% it should be replaced. Just 10% wear decreases the capacity of the lift truck by 20%.
- Surface cracks. Inspect each fork top and bottom for surface cracks. Pay close attention to the heel and the welded areas that attach the forks to the lift truck. Cracks require replacement.
- Distortion of the blade and shank. If either the shank (vertical portion that attaches to the carriage) or the blade has any bend, the forks must be replaced.
- Uneven forks. If the difference in the height of each fork tip exceeds 3% of the length of the blade, you will need to replace both forks.
If an inspection reveals damage or excessive wear, forks should always be replaced in pairs. Failure to do so will cause the load to be uneven and possibly cause the lift truck to tip over. Uneven loads also put stress on the mast and other components of the lift truck.
Seven signs it’s time to replace your forklift forks
Excessive wear to the forks
A Forklift fork will decrease in thickness over time due to normal wear. However, any wear to the fork of more than 10 per cent of the total thickness is considered excessive. Forks that show this amount of wear should be replaced.
Fractures due to stress or collision
Be sure to inspect the forks closely for fractures and gouges. The fork heel and parts of the fork closest to the machine typically receive the most wear. Even small cracks and gouges are signs forks need to be replaced.
Damage to the fork tip
Since fork tips are usually the first part of the fork to meet material, excessive wear or damage to the tips is a clear indicator the forks should be replaced.
Any bends or uneven surfaces on the fork
All forks are delivered with a 90-degree angle from the shank to the blade. If any bend or uneven surface is detected on either the blade or shank, the fork need replacing.
Difference in fork blade height
A difference in the height of each fork blade should stay within three per cent of the fork length.
Wear or damage to the fork hook
Noticeable wear, crushing, pulling and other deformities are signs that the fork hooks need to be replaced. Furthermore, if the wear to the hook is causing an excessive amount of distance between the fork and the carriage, the hooks should be replaced.
Wear or damage to positioning lock
If a positioning lock is no longer capable of locking completely due to wear the forks should immediately be removed from duty until the part is replaced. Operating without a fully functional positioning lock is a safety hazard.