Triangle of Stability
Part of all Training courses should have a section on Safe Operation of a Forklift including Triangle of Stability
The stability of the forklift is maintained at all times by the experienced and competent operator but how is this done?
The forklift is basically like a child's see saw, the load that is picked up is counterbalanced by a counter weight at the other side. If the load is too heavy for the counter weight then it will pivot at the fulcrum (the forklift will tip over forwards). Careful consideration must be taken to get the load as near to the fulcrum as possible as any gap here will be exaggerated and the forklift will not be able to pick up as much.
All the weight behind the fulcrum including the driver is acting as the counterweight.
Within the Forklift there is an imaginary triangle formed between front two wheels and a points on the back axle and this is called the Stability Triangle. The forklift truck will not tip over as long as the centre of gravity remains inside the triangle. The combined centre of gravity that is made when a load is picked up is free to move around. The operator has to keep it within the confines of the triangle or the forklift will tip over.
An easy way to explain is to think about when you are in a car and you approach a set of traffic lights and they turn to red, you brake and the momentum pulls you forward - same with the forklift.
If you go round a corner too fast, the forklift combined centre of gravity does the same, by moving out suddenly - if it goes outside the triangle the forklift tips over! If the centre of gravity shifts outside the stability triangle, the forklift will tip over, this can be caused by:
Lateral (sideways) Instability
Turn on ramps.
Speed on corners.
Brake too hard on corner.
Turn with raised loads.
Operate with a flat tyre.
Side shift not returned to centred.
Longitudinal (forwards) Instability
Travelling on a slope the wrong way.
Forward tilt used incorrectly at height.
Overloading the forklift.
The load not being against the heel of the forks.
What to do if the forklift is going to tip over?
Do not jump out, stay in the cab
Hold on tight
Lean away from the point of impact
This is why the seat belt is so important to use, it is there to keep you in the cab!
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