What Are the Seven Forklift Classes?

Seven Common Forklift ClassesThe U.S. Industrial Truck Association (ITA) has established 7 different types of forklift. Forklift classes help operators understand which type of lift is most appropriate for the task at hand. Knowing what engine a lift has, whether it can be used on rough terrain, and if an operator can ride onboard while using it can make all the difference. ForkliftCertification.com has a wide range of resources to help forklift operators understand the differences in classes of forklifts and keep up with OSHA requirements.

Before diving deeper into forklift classes, it’s important to note that all operators must be formally trained and certified before beginning to use any kind of lift. Forklift certification classes can help operators get up to speed and ensure they’re in compliance with OSHA regulations. Our comprehensive Forklift Training Kit covers forklift classes I through VII, and can be completed in about one hour using a smartphone, tablet or other digital device anywhere there’s an internet connection – your operators can be certified as soon as today!

Differentiating Between Forklift Classes

OSHA breaks lift types down into the following seven forklift classifications:

✓ Class I

Electric motor rider trucks. These include electric motor-powered rider, and counterbalanced trucks with either solid or pneumatic tires. Class I forklifts include some of the most commonly used powered industrial trucks. They’re designed for use inside warehouses, since they don’t emit toxic fumes and are less noisy than their gasoline or diesel-powered counterparts.

✓ Class II

Electric motor narrow aisle trucks and Class III – Electric motor hand trucks hand/rider trucks. People are often confused by the differences between Class II & III forklifts. Both types are compact electric trucks that can maneuver through narrow warehouse aisles and other areas that can’t accommodate larger-sized forklifts.

✓ Class III

Class III forklifts include hand and hand/rider forklifts. They are used for two main tasks. One is loading and unloading trailers. The other is moving loads short distances in narrow aisles. Drivers do not sit down on Class 3 forklifts. Instead, they control the forklift by standing when they ride or walking behind. Trucks in this forklift classification are ideal for unloading tractor-trailers and moving loads to a staging area.

✓ Class IV

Forklifts equipped with solid cushion tires powered by internal combustion engines. Of all the 7 different types of forklifts, Class IV is often the most confusing. Think of Class IV lifts as Class I lifts, but with an internal combustion engine, as opposed to an electric motor.

✓ Class V

Forklifts with pneumatic cushion tires powered by internal combustion engines. This forklift type is just like Class IV, but with air-filled tires. Class IV internal combustion engine trucks with solid tires are for indoor use on smooth floors

✓ Class VI

Tractors powered by either electric or internal combustion engines. Class VI forklifts include heavy duty machines, and is best exemplified by a sit-down rider with a draw bar pull of at least 999 pounds!

✓ Class VII

These are forklift trucks with pneumatic tires designed for outdoor use over rough terrain. They’re frequently used on construction sites and lumberyards, and are able to operate on uneven terrain. Variable reach type, variable mast type and truck & trailer mounted lifts are good examples of Class VII forklifts.

More About Forklift Classifications

With a good working understanding about the distinctions of forklift classification, it’s time to go a little deeper. Class IV, V and VI forklifts are all very similar. Class IV internal combustion engine trucks with solid tires are for indoor use on smooth floors, while Class V internal combustion engine trucks with pneumatic tires are used outdoors on uneven terrain. Forklift classes IV and V are powered by gas, diesel or LP gas engines.

Forklift classes I, II and III are powered by electric motors. Powered by batteries, gasoline or LPG, Class I’s are warehouse forklifts, and come in both stand up and sit down models. Class II and III forklifts fall under the category of Pallet Jacks and Order Pickers. These include

  • High-Lift straddles
  • Reach type outriggers
  • Side loaders
  • Turret trucks
  • Swing masts
  • Convertible turret/stockpickers
  • Low lift pallets
  • Walkie/riders

Class VII forklifts are sit down riders designed for use on rough terrain, and are the most rigged and durable of the seven forklift categories. They include straight mast and telescopic forklifts, extended boom lifts and extended reach trucks. Of the seven forklift class types, Class VIIs are definitely the most durable and rugged!

Why Forklift Classification Matters

You might be wondering: why do forklift classes even matter? The answer is simple. These categories help us understand the strengths, challenges, advantages, and disadvantages of different types of forklifts. When it comes time to choose the right machine for the job, you’ll be grateful to have a working understanding of these differences. 

Even beyond the initial selection process, knowing about the various classes of forklifts can make daily operations simpler. For instance, forklift operators are required to perform daily inspections of their machines before getting to work. Inspecting a pallet jack is a lot different than inspecting a variable mast type forklift. By understanding how these lifts differ, you’ll be ready to pick up on defects and breakages that much faster. 

Sign Up for Forklift Certification Classes Today

While this overview is a good primer for those just starting to learn about forklifts, operators must be formally trained and certified before they can begin using these machines on the job. Forklift certification classes like those offered by FLC are a great way to master the use of the forklift while getting in compliance with OSHA regulations. Our courses are designed to instill confidence in employees so they can work safely and efficiently. We’ll guide learners through everything they need to know about forklift classes, including safe operating techniques. Upon completion of the course, participants will earn their license and be certified to operate forklifts for the following three years. We offer free license renewals, too!

If you have questions about our forklift training classes, call our certification consultants at (888) 278-8896 or click here to contact us online. Sign up now and your company will enjoy a safer, more productive workplace!

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