Forklifts are usually overlooked and under-inspected in warehouses and factories. But it is necessary to inspect the forklifts in use. OSHA requires a daily inspection of forklifts, including forks. Forklift forks should ideally be visually inspected on a per-operation basis. Other than visual inspections, you should also conduct thorough annual inspections by trained professionals. The forks of your forklift should be inspected for signs of cracks, bends, excessive wear, or damage to either the fork tine or the positioning lock in case of an ITA-mounted fork.
Accidents or improper load management can negatively affect the structure and thickness of your forks. Normal wear and tear over time can lead to a 10% loss of thickness. These are the things you need to look for when inspecting your forks:
- Excessive wear & tear
The thickness of forklift forks tends to decrease over time due to normal wear. As mentioned above, a reduction of more than 10% thickness is excessive. You need to replace the forks that have been worn out beyond the 10% benchmark.
- Uneven forks
The difference in the height of each fork blade should stay within three percent of the fork length. The forklift can be dangerous to use if the difference is more than that. For example, if the forks in question are 42 in length, the difference in fork height should not exceed 1.26 in. Any difference in fork height beyond 1.26 is a sign that both forks need to be replaced.
- Fractures caused by stress or collision
The forks should be closely examined for fractures and gouges. The heel and parts of the fork closest to the machine generally get worn out quicker than other parts. If you find small cracks or gouges, you need to replace the forks.
- Distortion of the blade and shank
Forks form a 90-degree angle from the shank to the blade. If you discover any bend or uneven surface on either the blade or shank, the forks need to be replaced.
- Damage to the tip
The tip of forks is the first part that comes in contact with material loads, excessive wear, or damage to the tips is a telltale sign that the forks need to be replaced.
- Wear or damage to the fork hook
Excessive wear, crushing, pulling, and other damages are signs that the fork hooks need to be replaced. Additionally, if the wear to the hook is causing an excessive amount of distance between the fork and the carriage, the hooks should be replaced.
- Wear or damage to positioning lock
After prolonged use, the positioning lock might not be capable of locking completely. In this case, the forks should immediately be removed from duty until the part is replaced. Operating with a faulty positioning lock is a safety hazard and illegal.
If you notice any of these signs in your forklifts, you should contact your forklift service provider and get the forks replaced for a safe and smooth operation.