What is A Stability Triangle of a Forklift?
One of the biggest risks that forklift operators face is tip-overs. This relatively common warehouse and factory hazard are responsible for as many as 84 deaths and over 95,000 serious and nonserious injuries a year. Understanding the stability triangle of a forklift can help reduce tip-overs and keep employees and facilities safer.
When you operate a forklift, there are several weights you must balance to stabilize the machine. There’s the weight of the load itself and the counterbalance weight located in the engine. This weight is distributed on three points—the front two wheels and the pivot point on the back axel—forming an imaginary “triangle.” This is the stability triangle of the forklift.
Stability Triangle and Center of Gravity
A forklift’s center of gravity shifts based on how weight shifts on the forklift. Since the counterbalance weight doesn’t move, the weight operators must be concerned with the load’s weight. When the load is lifted higher, the center of gravity is as well. If the mast is tilted, so is the center of gravity. The key is to keep the center of gravity within the stability triangle. If you do, the forklift will remain stable. If not, the forklift will be thrown off balance, causing it to tip over.
Things that may shift the center of gravity out of the stability triangle include:
- Load weight
- Product distribution on the fork
- Load height
- Mast height
- Fast movement
How to Prevent Tip Overs
Remain Within the Carrying Capacity
Understanding what impacts the center of gravity makes it clearer why carrying capacity is essential in forklift operation. The heavier the load, the more the center of gravity shifts toward the load itself. Carrying a load heavier than the forklift is designed to carry will make it more likely to tip.
Place Loads Evenly on the Fork
In most cases, when a forklift lifts a pallet or crate, the weight of the load is evenly distributed across the forks. However, there are times when an extra smaller box is added off-center. Adding unbalanced weight on the forks causes the center of gravity to tilt sideways, making a sideways tip likely.
Drive at Reasonable Speeds
The chance of tip-overs dramatically increases with speed. Operators are more likely to lose control in these circumstances. When driving a forklift, avoid accelerating too quickly, especially when turning corners.
Even the highest quality Toyota electric forklift is prone to damage if not handled correctly. By keeping operators well-trained in the forklift stability triangle, you can protect your employees, equipment, and facilities from the dangers of tip-overs.