Forklift Load testing and what you didn’t know

Forklift load testing needs to be completed every 12 months as per the requirements of the law. The reasons why and the effect of non-compliance often comes as a surprise to many who enrol and participate in our forklift training and forklift driver training workshops.

The initial understanding appears to be that forklift load testing is a once-off test done to determine a forklift carrying capacity, however, this is simply not the case. Everyday operations result in wear, tear, and damage to your forklift thus impacting its ability to perform safely over the long term.

The main purpose of annual forklift load testing is to determine whether your forklift remains safe to operate – both for the protection of your forklift operators as well as your business operations. The favourable outcome of the load test confirms that your forklift is in optimal condition for the next 12 months, alternatively, identifies components that are damaged or degrading and require adjustments, maintenance, or complete replacement.

In this article we’ve covered why forklift load testing is required; what components are checked and why; and set out to explain the potential effects and implications for your operations when forklift load testing is not completed annually.

Fines and/or imprisonment for non-compliance

In terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Act 85 of 1993 and guidelines for Driven Machinery Regulations, 2015 all lifting machines and lift trucks such as forklifts and related driven material handling equipment require a thorough inspection and performance test at 110% of the safe working load over the complete lifting range of the respective forklift. A performance test must be conducted in such a way that every component of the forklift is placed under stress in order to determine the serviceability and safety of the forklift and its components.

In the event of any incidents and accidents occurring within the workplace and the respective forklift being without a valid forklift load test certificate, this could land you as a person or entity into serious trouble for non-compliance with OHSA and the Driven Machinery regulations. This could mean being held liable, upon conviction, for a financial penalty or imprisonment for up to 12 months.

Further, forklift load testing must be conducted by an approved and certified handler and tester, such as Toyota Forklifts, who are qualified and able to issue your forklift with a valid certificate on the satisfactory outcome of the forklift load test.

What is being checked during a forklift load test?

During the forklift load test, the forklift’s performance is observed and recorded when tested with and without a load. The following is assessed:

  • The engine of the forklift

How well does the engine operate at idle and full speed; is the radiator and charging system operating effectively?

  • Forklift Mast lifting and lowering

The forklift mast is the lifting mechanism of the forklift and is responsible for lifting, lowering and positioning loads manipulated by the forks. Common forklift mast problems include slow, jerky lifting and lowering of the mast or no movement at all. Masts can become damaged via everyday operations showing up as misaligned, bent, cracked, twisted or rusted masts which would then require repair or replacement. During the forklift load testing the hydraulic fluid is also checked to determine that there aren’t any leaks in the hoses during operations.

  • Forklift Mast Tilting

Common forklift accidents such as a forklift tipping over often occur when lifting a heavy load at a height. The forklift mast tilting angle control must function in such a way to restrict the mast title angle to ensure that the forklift remains stable and does not tilt beyond the vertical position, either forward or backwards which would result in spilling loads or the forklift tipping over.

  • Forklift Transmission System

The forklift transmission system is a component of the engine assembly that connects the engine and wheels so that they can work and rotate in unison. During the forklift load testing procedure, the engagement and disengagement of gears are analysed for any slippage or abnormalities.

  • Steering

Common forklift steering problems include locked steering, not getting a response from your forklift when trying to turn, to noisy strange sounds when turning the wheels. Forklift steering issues can come about because of worn gears, misaligned tyres, a rusty steering mechanism, worn pressure valves or low steering fluid. During the load testing procedure, any defects or concerns are identified with recommendations for repairs and/or replacements so that your forklift does not continue to operate in such condition until it is eventually placed out of commission.

  • Forklift Brakes

When it comes to forklift safety, the brakes are heavily utilized to slow down and manage the speed of the forklift or to bring the forklift truck to a stop. Ensuring that the forklift brakes function as they should and remain effective is key to maintaining both the forklift driver’s safety as well as productivity within your operations. The service and parking brakes are checked during the forklift load testing procedure with recommendations to replace the brakes made, if necessary.

  • Forklift Gradient Testing

Forklifts operate on many different types of surfaces, including slopes, ramps and inclines. The risk of a forklift tipping over is great and forklift operators are required to be trained on how to correctly manoeuvre a forklift over such surfaces. However, during the forklift load test, observations are made in order to identify any potential risks in the performance of the lift truck.

Our Forklift Load Testing Offering:

Toyota Forklifts, a business division of CFAO Equipment SA, are leaders in the supply of material handling and industrial equipment and value-added services. As registered and licensed machinery inspectors we visit your premises to conduct forklift load testing, issuing you with a comprehensive report per forklift that identifies any defects and concerns. Our services include offering genuine Toyota Forklift parts to the service and maintenance of forklifts that ensure that your forklifts comply and meet the required standards.