How Much Can a Forklift Lift?

Forklift Capacity

When it comes to forklifts and max weight capacities, there’s a big difference between myth and reality. So, how much can a forklift lift? To find out, let’s first consider the myth and reality associated with this question. 

Myth: every warehouse forklift can lift much more than they’re designed for.

Reality: it’s always a good idea to check your forklift’s manual for its max load requirement.

Despite their superhuman strength, durability, and reliability, even forklifts are limited in the amount of weight they can lift. Too often, forklift operators think their lifts can handle a certain amount of weight, only to find out the hard way they can’t! That’s the difference between guessing how much load a particular forklift can lift and knowing for sure. 

OSHA has guidelines in place to help forklift operators, pallet jack drivers, and other industrial powered truck workers be aware of their machine’s ability to lift, maneuver, and store cargo. In fact, OSHA’s Powered Industrial Trucks eTool resource provides insights into max load capacities for common forklifts. 

In one example, OSHA explains that a forklift capable of lifting 4,000 lbs. at a 24-in. load center can only carry 2,666 lbs. at a 36-in. load center. Think about it: just a 1 ft. difference in the center load position, and a forklift’s max load is reduced by up to 33%! 

This brings us to another myth/reality issue:

Myth:  If a forklift can lift 3,000 lbs. off the ground, it can safely carry 3,000 lbs. to any location, at any time.

Reality: The higher a heavy load is lifted, the less safe a forklift becomes.

Due to ineffective (or nonexistent) training, many forklift drivers aren’t aware of max load capacities or how to safely navigate their workspace with a heavy load, the leader in online OSHA training, provides the knowledge and skills to help anyone – including you – better understand how forklifts handle heavy cargo. Still, many of our customers would like to know how much a forklift can lift. Let’s find the answer!

How Much Can a Forklift Lift Infographic

What Is Forklift Capacity?

Capacity refers to the maximum amount that a forklift can lift. This weight is listed on a lift and ensures an operator knows how much the machine can carry when a load is properly centered. 

You can find a lift’s capacity listed on its load capacity data plate. The plate is located on the instrument panel near a lift’s operating controls.  

The load capacity plate lists the maximum load that a lift can handle, lift height, brand and model number, and load center distance. It can also include the down rating for specific attachments and down rating of the lift capacity if a mast is fitted onto the machine.  

How Do You Know the Capacity of Your Forklift?

All forklifts must have a load capacity data plate. You can view this plate at any time to determine how much weight you can safely carry with your lift. 

The capacity of your forklift should never be exceeded. Otherwise, traveling with a load that is too heavy for a lift can lead to a tip-over. It can also result in a forklift accident, injury, or fatality. 

What Load Capacity Do You Need?

Consider the loads you need to carry as you decide what capacity you need for your forklift. As part of your efforts, try to find answers to the following questions: 

  • What types of loads do I typically need to carry?
  • How heavy are these loads?
  • How high do I need to lift loads?
  • How long will my forklift remain in use in a given day or week?
  • Is my forklift going to be used indoors and/or outdoors? 

Learn as much as you can before you invest in a forklift for your business. Don’t forget to enroll your workers in a forklift certification safety program, too. This program ensures your workers can earn OSHA forklift certification, so they can legally operate a lift. Also, the program can teach your workers how to assess a lift’s capacity and safely operate and maintain the machine.

How Much Weight Can a Forklift Lift? – A Brief Rundown

How much a forklift can lift depends on the type of lift. Since OSHA groups forklifts, pallet jacks, and other similar machines into their Powered Industrial Truck category, the better question might be, “How much weight can different powered industrial trucks carry?”

The answer varies based on the type of machine. 

  • Pallet jacks – Also called order pickers, typical pallet jacks can lift approximately 3,300 pounds.
  • 3-wheel lifts – Used for pallet storage and other “minor” tasks, this type of lift has a max load capacity of about 4,800 pounds.
  • 4-wheel liftsOne extra wheel improves the lift’s ability to carry weight. While 3-wheel lifts can move around 4,800 lbs., 4-wheel lifts are capable of carrying nearly 8,000 lbs!
  • Counterbalance forkliftsThese are some of the most common types of forklifts, and they can hoist up to 5,500 lbs. 
  • Rough terrain forkliftsDesigned for heavy-duty work on all types of terrain, these lifts are built for ultra-impressive max load capacities. In fact, rough terrain forklifts can handle up to 35,000 lbs!

Experienced forklift drivers are required to know different forklift maximum load requirements because they might use more than one type of lift every week – or even every day – on the job. Beginning forklift operators also need to know how much their forklifts can lift. 

The bottom line: when it comes to safety with forklift load capacity, you can learn how much weight a forklift can lift by taking an OSHA-compliant certification course.

Contact Us Today, and We’ll Handle the Heavy Lifting for Your Company’s OSHA Forklift Certification Training Requirements

While your forklift can’t lift everything, FLC’s OSHA experts are more than happy to do the “heavy lifting” for your firm’s forklift training requirements. 

We’re a premier provider of convenient, budget-friendly, online OSHA training for small companies, large corporations, and even individual forklift drivers! FLC offers the following training packages, all of which cover crucial OSHA safety concepts, including max forklift capacity:

Employee Training Kit

This comprehensive training program is available for $299 and gives you all the skills, knowledge, and OSHA guidelines to become a better forklift driver…today! 

Train a Trainer

For anyone looking to become an on-site safety resource and OSHA liaison, our Train a Trainer package goes over everything necessary to take your safety know-how to the next level. Our package is available for $149 and allows you to teach any worker what it takes to serve as a forklift safety trainer. 

Bundle Package

This value-added training program from FLC includes both our Employee Training Kit and Train a Trainer course. It is available for $399, which offers a $50 discount in contrast to buying our Employee Training Kit and Train a Trainer course separately. Our Bundle package is ideal for businesses and employees who want to earn OSHA certification today, from both safety supervisor and forklift operator perspectives. 

From how much your forklift can lift to proper maintenance guidelines and more, no other OSHA forklift training company instructs you better than FLC! With our complete coursework, streamlined learning method, and real-world applications to help you retain critical OSHA safety content, we’re ready to help today! For more information about our forklift training packages, please contact us online or give our OSHA forklift safety experts a call today at (888) 278-8896.

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