How to Load Test a Forklift

by Andrew Latham
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Forklifts annually cause an estimated 85 deaths and 34,900 accidents that result in serious injury, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Overturns are the leading cause of these fatalities; 42 percent of the fatal accidents are caused by forklifts tipping over and crushing the operators as they try to jump out of the vehicles. OSHA requires all forklift owners to load test their vehicles every 12 months and after all major repairs or modifications, to minimize the risk of accidents (See Reference 1).

Step 1

Test the forklift's brakes, limiting features and other safety equipment without a load. This will guarantee your forklift's basic mechanisms are working and minimize the risk of overturning the forklift during the load test (See References 3 and 4).

Step 2

Prepare test weights adequate to the forklift's maximum load specifications. The load should never exceed the forklift's rated capacity. Weigh the test load before using it, and ensure that the weight of your test load is accurate to within minus five percent and the actual weight of the forklift's rated capacity. In other words, if the test weight is rated as 1,000 pounds it cannot be less than 950 pounds and never more than 1,000 pounds (See Reference 4).

Step 3

Load the test weight onto the forklift. Ensure that the load slippage is not more than three inches vertically and one inch horizontally. Raise the test load to maximum reach for a 10 minute or more static test. The purpose of the test is to ensure that the forklift doesn't drop or lower the load during the 10 minute period (See Reference 4).

Step 4

Prepare a written report of the test. Include the procedure you followed and the test weights you used. Keep a copy of the report in your records for future reference. If the forklift fails the load test, make the necessary repairs, and then retest (See reference 4).

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