How to Inspect Forklift Forks and Know When to Replace Them

by Gregg Robinson on April 4, 2017
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how to inspect forklift forks and know when to replace themThe metal forks on your forklift may seem indestructible, but eventually they wear out just like any other machine part. In fact, 29% of all independently-inspected forks fail safety standards.

A quick once-over isn’t enough to determine if a fork needs to be replaced. For this reason, ANSI/ITSDF B-56.1 standards require forks be inspected at least once per year (for single shift operations). Similarly, OSHA requires all powered industrial trucks, including forks, be examined daily or after each shift if they are utilized 24/7.

Skipping your fork inspections can lead to a snapped fork, dropped load and an all-around bad day! Read on to learn how to prevent accidents before they happen.

Regular use causes forks to bend, crack, or wear down over time. Forks can also be damaged by:
- Improper chain adjustments
- Accidents (running into walls, columns, etc).
- Overloading forks beyond their rated capacity

If you’re not sure if your truck/forks are working beyond capacity, try this online calculator which also accounts for any attachments 

How to Inspect Forklift Forks

  • Check blade and shank angle - If the shank and blade angle exceed 93 degrees, the fork must be replaced. Do not allow machine shops to bend forks back into place!
  • Ensure straightness of blade and shank - If the shank or the blade are bent, the fork can no longer be used.
  • Inspect forks for surface cracks - Check the entire surface of each fork for cracks.
    Pro Tip: the heel area and welds are most likely place for cracks to develop.
  • Check fork tip height - The tips of your two forklift blades should be at roughly the same height. If the difference between the height of each tips exceeds three percent of the length of the blade, the forks need to be replaced. For example, if your for forklift blade is 48-inches long, the difference in height between the two forklift blade cannot exceed 1.44 inches.
  • Inspect the positioning lock - Ensure the positioning lock and other fork retention devices are working properly.
  • Use calipers to measure thickness - The metal on a fork wears down slowly, but eventually the forks can no longer handle their original load capacity. Just 10% wear reduces load capacity by 20%, at which point the forks must be replaced. Using forklift calipers, measure the thickness of your fork blade, heel and hook using the shaft as a starting place.
  • Check fork hooks - Using calipers, check for wear and also straightness of fork hooks. If the lip of the hook touches the back of the caliper, the forks must be removed from service.

We hope this overview of fork inspection has been helpful. For further questions, please contact our service department. We also offer forklift operator training at any of our five locations, or we can come to you.

Further reading:

Forklift Certification in California


Topics: Forklift Safety, Forklift FAQs, Forklift Maintenance

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