Health, Safety, Security and Environment

Photo of the day: Forklift Stability Triangle

9 min read

Understanding the forklift stability triangle is essential for workplace safety. When workers understand their vehicle’s capacity limits and the general principle of the stability triangle, they can operate safely on the job and reduce the risk of hazardous incidents. 

The forklift stability triangle is a fundamental concept that operators of counterbalanced lift trucks must understand. In order to maintain longitudinal, lateral, and dynamic stability, operators must be able to locate the center of gravity of a loaded truck and ensure that it falls within this imaginary triangle that spans the front axle to the center of the steer axle. int the photo of today you will learn :

  • How to prevent forklift Tip-over
  • Forklift stability triangle
  • What Determines the Stability of a Forklift?
  • Tips to Improve Forklift Stability
  • what operator shall do in case of forklift tip-over

Also, Read: Cranes Stability and Tipping: Safety Moment#29

 Forklift Stability Triangle

What Is the Forklift Stability Triangle?

Most counterbalanced forklifts have a three-point suspension system, meaning that the truck is supported at the two front wheels and the center of the steer axle. If you imagine all three points connected into a triangle, this is the forklift’s stability triangle. When the lift truck’s center of gravity falls within the perimeter of this triangle, a load is safe to carry.

Forklift stability triangle
The Stability Triangle forms by connecting three points: the two front wheels and the center point of the rear axle. For the forklift to remain balanced, the forklift’s center of gravity must stay within the triangle.

Now, when there is no load present, the lift truck’s center of gravity is firmly inside the triangle. Because there is no load, the center of gravity is nearly in the center of the forklift’s counterbalance. As you add weight to the forks, the center of gravity shifts closer to the front axle. Once the center of gravity reaches the front axle, it is at the edge of the stability triangle, and the load becomes unsafe to carry.

Also Read: Lessons from 3 of the Worst Workplace Disasters(

You should understand these helpful terms related to the stability triangle:

  • Lateral stability: A lift truck’s resistance to overturning sideways
  • Longitudinal stability: A lift truck’s resistance to overturning forward or rearward
  • Dynamic stability: The idea that an unloaded or loaded forklift can shift due to sudden stops, starts, turns, or tilts
  • Line of action: An imaginary vertical line through an object’s center of gravity
  • Load center: The horizontal distance from the forklift’s line of action through the load’s center of gravity

What Determines the Stability of a Forklift?

Three main factors govern the stability of a forklift: the size of the load, the terrain on which it is operating, and what type of forklift you are using.

forklift stability

The Load Size

When it comes to loads, you should consider both the size and distribution of that heavy load. Each forklift will have a specifically defined load capacity you should adhere to that will describe both of these factors. For example, a forklift may be rated to carry 4,000 pounds at 24 inches load center, but just 2,666 pounds at 36 inches load center. Never exceed the capacity of the forklift described on its data plate or a name plate or you risk tipping.

The Terrain

The terrain on which the forklift operates also impacts its stability, as slippery and uneven surfaces can risk tipping the vehicle even if it is not exceeding load limits. Forklift operators should avoid traveling on oil, water, or other spills due to the risk of skidding. They should also avoid steep inclines and declines, or generally uneven surfaces. Finally, forklift operators should be aware of obstructions, holes, and speed bumps that can also cause the vehicle’s wheels to elevate.

The Type of Forklift

You can use many different types of forklifts, and each has its own stability profile. If you’re in the market for a forklift, carefully examine the specs on forklifts to determine which is the right one for your job.

Although you can find several types of forklifts, each forklift is best suited for a particular job. For example, you wouldn’t want to use a forklift meant for smaller tasks to do heavy-duty warehouse lifting. Or, if you need long objects moved like pipes and timber, you’d want a forklift ideally suited for that job, such as a side loader.

Tips to Improve Forklift Stability

Proper safety training is key to forklift stability, and you can improve the stability of your forklift to minimize the risks of tipping. Keep in mind these are general tips: check your forklift safety manual for more safety instructions.

1-Keep the load low to the ground

The higher the load is, the more unstable it becomes, so keeps the load as low to the ground as possible. Ideally, you want the load to be just 4 to 6 inches from the ground. OSHA recommends tilting the mast back and positioning the heaviest part of the load as close to the carriage as possible, keeping your center of gravity from shifting too far forward. Keep the mast tilted back when traveling for maximum stability.

What May Happen:

higher loads may cause the lift truck to
be less stable

2-Do not accelerate or brake suddenly

Sudden movements affect forklift stability, so do not accelerate or brake suddenly. Keep your movements slow, gradual, and deliberate. Maintain control of the forklift at all times, and adjust your speed as needed.

Also, don’t suddenly change direction, which can shift the combined center of gravity rapidly and cause the vehicle to tip. Never turn on a ramp or any kind of surface grade.

What May Happen:

Sudden stops may cause the forklift to
destabilize and load to tip over.

Download: Forklift Operator’s Daily Checklist and Safety Tips

3-Do not exceed your lift’s maximum load capacity

As discussed above, the load capacity has a huge impact on forklift stability, so never exceed the load capacity of your vehicle as described on the data plate or nameplate. Exceeding load capacity can very quickly cause the operator to either tip over or lose control of the steering. Make sure all lift truck operators on your job site are familiar with the vehicle’s maximum lift capacity.

What May Happen:

Oversized or Imbalanced loads may cause your
forklift to become unstable.

Also Read: Photo of the day: Safe Lifting at work

Download the Infographic

Now you can download the Infographic ” Forklift Stability Triangle” and post it at the workplace to communicate with everyone to be familiar with the Tips to improve forklift stability and avoid workplace incidents.

Also Read: Guideline for Crane Stability and Ground Pressure

Photo of the day: Forklift Stability Triangle

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