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How Is It Possible for a Forklift Not to Tip Over?

Forklifts are relatively compact vehicles and yet are capable of carrying extremely heavy loads. At first glance, you may wonder how the forklift achieves this without toppling forward. The answer is actually quite simple, and it all comes down to one thing: physics.

In this article, we’re going to explain how forklift stability works and how to stay safe when lifting heavy loads.


Physics teaches us that stability occurs when a force is balanced with an equal, opposite force. Forklifts attest to this theory by countering the heavy weight at the front with an equal or greater weight at the back. This is called a counterweight, and it’s present in every single type of forklift. The counterweight is present in the rear of the truck, creating a centre of gravity inside the wheelbase.

How much can I lift?

Different forklifts will have different sized counterweights, which is why forklifts have specific loading capacities. If the counterweight doesn’t exceed 3000lbs, then the load capacity must not exceed 3000lbs either, or else the forklift truck will topple forward. The load weight will vary depending on forklift type and information regarding a forklift’s maximum load capacity can be found on its technical plate; this is the metal plate attached to every forklift that displays a variety of important information.

Does the position of the load matter?

The position of the carried load will influence the truck’s ability to balance out the weight. The load capacity on the technical plate refers to the load capacity, given that the carried load is positioned flush with the back of the forks, with the mast in the lowest position and with the forks closest to the ground. If the load is positioned further at the front of the forklift forks, it will take a lower weight to topple the forklift forward.

Is there anything else that could cause the forklift to topple over?

Forklifts are capable of moving quickly (some can hit speeds of 35mph) and turning quickly (many can turn with a zero turning radius). Moving or turning quickly when carrying heavy weight can compromise the balance of the truck. It is important to keep the weight low if you are carrying out manoeuvres or driving quickly. It is almost important to only lift the load when the vehicle is stationary.

How can I stay safe on a forklift?

Every time you operate a forklift, it’s important to familiarise yourself with its load capacity. Ensure that you never exceed the maximum weight and that you always situate the load in the correct position on the forks. Always wear your seatbelt to protect yourself in the event that any accidents occur.

East Midlands Forklifts is a family-run business, offering a range of forklift trucks and equipment to customers throughout East Midlands. We stock a huge supply of the world’s most reliable brands, including Jugenheinrich, Caterpillar, Doosan and others. If you’d like to enquire about any of our products or services, give our team a call today.


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