Using Attachments for Forklifts



A large variety of attachments can transform a forklift into a versatile workhorse, including buckets, extensions, lifts, work platforms, rotators, spreaders, and rams. OSHA standards cover forklift attachments and provide guidance for good safety practice; when using forklift attachments, always observe safety precautions. The use of an attachment can change the stability, capacity, and visibility of a forklift.


Attaching a bucket to a forklift allows the machine to load sand and gravel, remove snow, backfill behind walls, and assist with the clean-up of a job site. Deeper buckets can even carry irregularly-shaped loads, such as concrete or lumber scraps. With a bucket designed for extendable-reach forklifts, an operator can place material beyond the reach of a conventional loader. Buckets attach directly to the end of a forklift boom or slide onto the forks themselves.


Attaching extending or telescoping forks increases the reach of a forklift. Made from heavy-duty steel, a pair of extensions provides the additional support needed to lift long objects or to move pallets. OSHA regulations limit the length of fork extensions to no longer than 150% of the length of the supporting truck forks.


The use of a carriage-mounted extension boom converts a forklift into a mobile crane. Jib booms have an adjustable length and attach directly to the carriage through bolt-on mounting. Mounted extension booms and lifting rigs provide an easy lifting solution for the forklift and include safety chains, lifting hooks and grab hooks. Typical lifting rigs have fork pockets that allow slip-on attachment to the forks.

Safety Work Platforms

The versatility of a forklift becomes very apparent with the attachment of an aerial work platform. Once attached (by sliding the forks into steel fork pockets), the work platform can extend beyond the reach of a scissor lift, providing a wider platform than those seen with boom lifts. A forklift-attached work platform can reach over obstructions, but because of safety concerns, the platform cannot exceed the width of the forklift. Aerial work platforms have expanded metal decks with full perimeter guard rails and toe guards, and protection screens protect workers from moving parts on the mast.


Rotators add 360 degree-revolution functionality to a forklift for dumping bins or totes. With the use of a rotator, an operator can invert a load in either direction and then return the forks to their normal operation. Operators can also use rotators to rotate loads for dumping, tipping, or hand picking in manufacturing, agriculture, automotive, plant, and mill applications.


Fixed-fork, wide frame attachments, or spreaders, allow a forklift to carry wide loads such as trusses and pipe. Spreaders stabilize long loads, avoiding damage to materials that would otherwise sag or drag on the ground. When using a spreader, observe the appropriate safety precautions: keep the load centered and travel with the carriage close to the ground.


Pin-mount coil rams can carry heavy loads and work with almost any type of forklift. Rams assist with moving heavy rolls of carpeting and other coiled materials. Differently sized lengths of coil rams can accommodate multiple core sizes and larger rolls.


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