In the first of a series, we take a look at some of our favourite forklift related questions which have been typed into Google, and attempt in all seriousness to answer them. Sometimes, it can be tough to find the answer you want. Hopefully we’ll be able to help in some way today.

So let us begin with an excellent prefix to any sentence, ‘can/can a forklift…’

1. Can a forklift be driven on a public road?

Whilst it’s technically not illegal to drive a forklift along a public road, it all comes down to the amount of distance that the forklift will have to cover, and there are several legal requirements to consider.

To cover the basics, forklift operators must hold a valid UK driver’s license and the machine must have vehicle registration plates fitted. The forklift must comply with insurance, tax and registration requirements, as well as construction regulations (specifically Road Vehicles and Road Vehicles Lighting regulations).

If a truck is to travel further than 1,000 yards, it must comply with the above regulations. This can involve some quite expensive, major modifications to the vehicle in question and so if you’re considering a forklift for this purpose, don’t make the decision lightly.

However if a truck travels less than a 1,000 yards (such as between sites or for unloading vehicles or goods) then a truck need only be insured and registered.

If a forklift is travelling with goods and there is an overhang (exceeding 3.05m) then the police need to be notified of the movement. Additionally, you will need to give two working days notice of your journey and ensure that you have an attendant present to supervise the movement of these goods, as well as markers to warn of the forklift’s presence.

2. Can a forklift battery explode?

Yes.

Though to better explain how this can happen, let’s take a look at how batteries themselves work. Electric forklifts are excellent for indoor use and if you want to be a little more eco-friendly. Unfortunately they’re not well suited to round the clock use, as they need to stop and be recharged for a certain amount of time before they can be used again.

When a forklift battery is charged, it generates hydrogen. Hydrogen is especially sensitive to heat (which results in it quicker hydrogen production, so be particularly careful in warm weather) and in certain concentrations, can explode if exposed to a spark. Sparks can actually be caused by the batteries if they’re old and worn down, so it’s wise to check your batteries often to make sure they’re up to the job.

3. Can a forklift be used as a crane?

Technically, a crane and a forklift are two very different pieces of equipment. Telescopic forklifts can be used in a similar fashion however and in some instances are far better suited to the job at hand than a crane would be.

Whilst forklifts can’t reach the heights that cranes can, if being used in construction (for example of houses) they can provide a cheaper, more compact solution than that of hiring a crane. Certain attachments can also allow telescopic forklifts to lift loads as a crane would – such as a hook.

Sometimes a forklift just isn’t suitable and a crane is the only option – specifically for moving loads at great height when outdoors.

4. Can a forklift be used for towing?

It’s no secret that forklifts are not designed to tow. They pick up and move loads. They can push with a plough and bucket, but towing isn’t usually a requirement.

However this may seem strange to some. Why? Because occasionally, forklifts can be found to have tow bars or hooks installed. These are actually to assistant in the forklift’s removal should it need to be recovered.

There are several reasons that forklifts are unsuitable for towing, the primary of which is that, whilst a majority of counterbalance forklifts are front wheel drive, some forklifts are rear wheel drive and their front wheels are used for braking. This makes pulling highly restrictive and can result in the forklift operator losing control. Not only could the forklift tip, but the results could be fatal.

We actively discourage attempting to tow with a forklift.

5. Can a forklift lift a car?

If you type this question into Youtube you’ll undoubtedly find that the answer is – yes, a forklift can lift a car. But it’s not easy as there’s a lot to consider in terms of weight and overhang. You’ll need a powerful forklift which has an 8,000 (minimum) to 12,000 pound capacity.

Other things to consider include fork length. 8 metre long forks should be the very minimum that you use, otherwise you could risk the car that you’re lifting falling off the forks completely.

When lifting the car it’s recommended to do from side on, however it is possible to lift from the front if you’re working with minimal space.

6. Can a forklift move a shipping container?

Some models of high capacity forklift can indeed, lift and move a shipping container. It’s vital to consider the weight distribution of the container when manoeuvring otherwise things could go south very quickly.

If you have minimal overhead clearance, a forklift can move and place your container without you have to worry too much about powerlines and trees. Modified forklifts (top loaders) are ideal for this kind of job and can handle great weights without too much issue.

7. Can forklift forks be welded?

No.

Whilst it physically can be done, the results can not only void any insurance you have in place, but the result can be unreliable and dangerous. If modifications to your forks are necessary, buy new forks. We’re not just saying this as a forklift supplier. Really, just buy new forks.

8. Can forklift training be done online?

Whilst you can accomplish a lot of things on the internet these days, forklift certification is not one of them.

Forklift training requires not only formal instruction (such as lectures, learning videos etc.) but practical application and evaluation but a qualified trainer. Only through practical experience and supervision can anyone properly learn how to operate any equipment.

There are websites online who promise authentic certification, all over the internet. These claims are false, so please don’t waste your time or money on them.

Proper forklift training is vital. If you’re interested in forklift training, why not get in touch with our expert team who can help you arrange the training you or your employees need around hours that suit you?

In conclusion, a forklift can do plenty of things, but some of them aren’t exactly recommended. If you’re unsure of what equipment would best suit your needs, why not get in touch with out expert team, who would be more than happy to help guide you through what’s on the market.

If you’re considering modifications or have any queries about the capabilities of your equipment, please get in touch with the manufacturer who will be able to give you clear advice.