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Fork Extensions: Size Does Matter

It’s an age-old debate. Does size matter? The answer is. . . yes and no. It depends a lot on what a person is talking about and what he or she is going to do.

When it comes to forklifts, why even consider fork extensions? Aren’t the original ones good enough? After all, they were designed by the manufacturer to go with the forklift. Why mess with the designer’s original plan?
fe_b_2Sometimes fork extensions are necessary to handle oversized or bulky, oddly shaped loads. These extensions can prevent damage to the load or merchandise which ultimately, affects the bottom line on profits.

One of the first steps to determining if fork extension size is an issue and ultimately, what size will work the best, is to determine the size and power of the original equipment. It’s important to know the fundamentals before customizing.

Find the make and model of the forklift. This information should be clearly visible on the machine itself. If not, check the owner’s manual. Next, determine whether the equipment is in its original stock state or if it has already been upgraded or changed. Cosmetic changes such as color or a seat cover doesn’t matter. What the forklift owner needs to look for are mechanical changes such as attachments, add-ons, non-standard tires, or increased power or lifting capabilities. A closer look at the equipment might reveal that extensions have already been added. If changes have already been made, these need to be taken into consideration before adding different forklift extensions.

Extensions are typically hollow steel which slide over the original forks. Locking bars and/or restraining straps hold them in place and prevent them from slipping off while in action.

Measure the forks for length, width, and thickness. The thickness tends to be the same—roughly two inches. However, the width and length can vary. Forklift blades come in four, five, and six inch widths. Don’t estimate, actually measure the forks as it’s difficult to tell four inches from five or five inches from six just by looking. This is an example of when bigger is not better. The fork extensions need to fit snugly in order to function properly and safely.

The same holds true for the blade length. Measure the original blade length. If a forklift is being upgraded to a greater length, remove the extensions in place now, and measure the length of the original forks. Extension lengths range from forty-eight to ninety-six inches. This is an example of when longer is not necessarily better.

The Division of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) which regulates possible safety and health hazards in the workplace does not allow the use of fork extensions longer than 150% of the original blade length. Extensions that exceed that percentage create an unstable load which can cause serious damage and even fatal injuries.

Measure accurately in order to purchase the best extensions for the equipment you have and for the job that needs to be done.

The debate on whether size matters will probably continue for as long as humans exist. There are times when it does, and bigger or longer is not always better. It all depends on the type of equipment and what the activity is.

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