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What Is a Forklift Capacity Data Plate?

November 15, 2021

According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), a standard forklift capacity plate is a nameplate that contains the capacity of the lift truck, where the capacity is defined as “the manufacturer’s guideline for how much weight a forklift can safely lift.”1 The nameplate contains a host of information besides the forklift’s capacity data.

All lift trucks are required by OSHA to have a nameplate installed on them, whether they are battery operated, diesel-powered, gasoline-powered, or LPG-powered (liquefied petroleum gas-powered, also known as propane gas). In fact, there are several different types of powered lift trucks on the market. The type of power required to operate the forklift is another OSHA required piece of data that must be listed on the nameplate.

The Lilly Company (@lillyforklifts) • Instagram photos and videos

Data Seen on a Nameplate

Manufacturers are required by law to install a nameplate on each forklift, lift truck, pedestrian pallet lifts (Big Joe), and any other type of equipment used to lift and move objects. The nameplate must list specific information in each section, including:

  • Power Source – The fuel or power source used to operate the lift truck.
  • Make – The brand of forklift—like Toyota.
  • Model – The model number.
  • Serial Number (S/N) – The serial number assigned to the lift truck by the manufacturer.
  • Country of Origin/Manufacture – Where the lift was assembled, such as USA or Japan.
  • Record Number – The number of the record corresponding to the nameplate data label recorded by the manufacturer.
  • Tire Type – The type of tires the manufacturer installed on the lift truck.
  • Tire Size – The size of the tires used on the forklift.
  • Truck Carriage – A description of the truck’s carriage style/type.
  • Truck/Lift Weight – The weight of the lift truck in pounds and/or kilograms.
  • Back Tilt – The maximum angle of tilt the lift can be safely operated at while lifting items.
  • Attachments – Any additional attachment test ratings are listed here and should include forks only, fork extensions, side shifters, and others.
  • Maximum Lifting Heights – The maximum lifting heights of each attachment.
  • Load Center – The number of inches based on the center of gravity and how far forward the balancing point is for each attachment.
  • Capacity – The maximum manufacturer-tested capacities the forklift can pick up for each attachment.

Keep in mind, data listed on the nameplate for your particular make, model, and type of lift can vary but must contain, at a minimum, as required by OSHA:

  • Model
  • S/N
  • Forklift Weight
  • Capacity
  • Load Center
  • Attachments

In addition, the minimum requirements by OSHA state that the nameplate must also contain the “designation of compliance with mandatory requirements of ASME B56.1, “Safety Standards for Low and High Lift Trucks,” applicable to the manufacturer.”1

To better give you an idea of what information is listed on a forklift’s nameplate, here is an example:

Power SourceMakeToyotaOriginUSA
GasolineModel8FCUB38Record #1234
Truck Weight14, 500 LBBack Tilt5
Truck CarriageTire TypeTire Size
STD Non-Side ShiftingSTD Cushion22x12x16
AttachmentsMax Lift HeightLoad CenterCapacity
Forks Only156 in24 in8,000 LB
Side Shifter125 in36 in7,500 LB
Fork Extensions130 in24 in6,750 LB

NOTE: Keep in mind, as previously mentioned, the data listed on your lift truck’s nameplate can and will vary. The illustration is to just give you an idea of what data you can find on a nameplate.

How Employers Should Use the Nameplate and Capacity Data

Employers should train forklift operators, maintenance personnel, and other relevant staff how to read, analyze, and interpret the data on the nameplate, including the capacity data. Your employees need to understand what the information means and how it applies to their job and assigned tasks.

Forklift Operators

Prior to the operation of the lift truck, the nameplate should be reviewed at the start of every shift. It is important to verify what attachment is on the lift truck and review the maximum capacity and maximum lift height for that attachment, so they know how much the forklift can pick up safely.

In addition, operators need to understand that using certain attachments could lower the lifting height and capacities of the forklift. Furthermore, they should be aware of how changes to the load center and center of gravity based on the size of the load, weight distribution of the load, and position of the load could affect maximum capacity and increase risks for tip-overs.

Forklift Maintenance Personnel

Maintenance workers need to understand how normal “wear and tear” of the forks can decrease safe maximum lifting capacities. They should be taught how to recalculate the maximum safe capacities, based on “wear and tear” and to update the data on the nameplate, as needed, without covering up the original manufacturer’s nameplate.

For instance, without normal “wear and tear” and the original forks attachment, the maximum lifting capacity on the manufacturer’s nameplate lists 8,000 lbs. However, with 5% fork wear, the maximum lifting capacity is reduced to 7,200 lbs.

In the event a nameplate falls off and is missing, or the data on the nameplate is illegible, the forklift should not be operated until a replacement nameplate can be obtained from the forklift distributor or manufacturer and installed on the lift truck.

How Load Centers Relate to Capacity Data on the Nameplate

The position, size, and weight of loads picked up by lift trucks can alter the load centers. It is for this reason that lift operators need to understand how minor changes in the way they pick up and lift items can alter the load center so that is no longer reflective of the data provided on the nameplate.

The load center is determined by evaluating the distance from the fork’s face to the center of gravity of the load. Lifting capacity is diminished for every one inch you exceed the load center rating on the nameplate for the attachment you are using.

For instance, you have a rectangular box on a pallet you need to lift and move. The weight of the box and pallet is 4,000 pounds. How the box is situated on the pallet will change the load center and center of gravity and maximum lifting capacities. The maximum capacity for the attachment you are using on the lift truck is rated on the nameplate as 4,500 pounds with a 24-inch load center.

Example 1– In our first example, the rectangular box is placed on the pallet, so the narrow side is on the bottom and the longer sides are vertical. In this example, the load center is exactly 24 inches and, since this matches the information on the capacity data on the nameplate, you know you can safely lift and move the pallet and box.

Example 2– In this example, the rectangular box is placed on the pallet so the longer side is on the bottom and shorter sides are vertical. While the shape and weight of the box have not changed, the load center has, which will affect the center of gravity and lifting capacities. The new load center is 36 inches.

This means the attachment you are using is not rated for a 36-inch load center. If you were to attempt to lift the pallet anyway, you would quickly discover the maximum lifting capacity has been decreased and, even though the nameplate says the attachment you are using is rated for 4,500 pounds, because the lifting capacity is now diminished, it is now less than the 4,000 weight of the box and pallet.

If you were to calculate the new lifting capacity with a 36-inch load center for the current attachment, you would discover the maximum weight that can safely be lifted has decreased to about 2,600 pounds. Since you are attempting to lift 4,000 pounds, the additional weight of the load would cause the lift truck to tip over.

How Lift Heights Are Related to Capacity Limits on the Nameplate

The maximum lift heights recommended by the manufacturer on the nameplate should never be exceeded. In addition, with normal “wear and tear” of the chains, the maximum height lifting capacity is reduced.

For lift trucks with high lifting masts, the nameplate will typically list two ratings regarding lifting heights. The first one will be for lifting loads at a maximum lower height as high-mast— high capacity forklifts tend to have greater maximum weight capacities at lower heights than the actual maximum lift height. The second rating will be the maximum weight at the maximum lift height, which will be less than the first rating.

As you can see, the capacity data plate is an essential part of the forklift’s nameplate and should be reviewed every time the lift is operated and used. Additionally, if you add new forklift parts and attachments, it is essential you have these rated and secure a new nameplate onto the lift truck that reflects the capacity data for any alterations you make.

The new nameplate should include all of the original data, plus the new data; otherwise, if it only contains data for the attachments, secure it below or next to the original nameplate. 

For more information about how capacity data is calculated or assistance in finding new or used forklifts, pallet jacks, forklift attachments, and other equipment, please feel free to contact Atlas Toyota Material Handling today!


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