How to Protect Forklift Pallets and Reduce Forklift Damage

A narrow aisle forklift retrieving forklift pallets from a warehouse

For businesses, finding a way to reduce forklift damage is critical. Material handling equipment is incredibly beneficial, but it comes with risks. Some of these risks include equipment damage, pallet damage, and load damage.

Forklift damage might seem inevitable, but it's not. Proper maintenance and operation can protect your equipment, pallets, and loads. 

Forklift load protection is an important focus for every business. Damaged pallets and loads can take a serious toll on your wallet.

Forklifts cause more damage to pallets than other sources combined. Forklift pallet and load damage can happen in many ways. Learn more about common causes and find out how to reduce forklift damage here.

Causes of Forklift Damage

Misaligned forks are a common source of damage. This can cause punctured forklift loads. It can also cause pallets to fall off the forks.

Mast interference is another frequent source of damage. Masts can sometimes crush loads, cracking boards when picking up pallets. This destroys the pallet and harms the load.

Other times, damage occurs from environmental factors. If you’re operating in an outdoor or wet environment, slipping can occur. In other words, humidity or excess moisture in the air causes forklift loads to slip off the forks. 

Your operation’s safety isn’t the only thing that damage compromises. Your budget and schedule will also suffer. Damage can cause equipment downtime or loss of valuable inventory. 

Continue reading to find out how to reduce forklift damage and minimize loss. Follow these tips to maximize safety and minimize spend.

How to Reduce Forklift Damage

Damage is typically preventable.

Make sure your operators are properly trained to work quickly without harming inventory or equipment. Stacking pallets too quickly can often lead to carelessness and damage.

Below are the top causes of forklift damage in the workplace. Focus on improving these areas to protect your forklift loads and forklift pallets. Review this information with your staff to help make them aware of these issues.

1. Eliminate Already-Damaged Forklift Pallets

Reduce forklift damage by taking care of your forklift loads and forklift pallets.

Keep your forklift pallets in good shape. Regularly inspect for broken planks, faulty stringers, nails, or missing blocks. You want to have the strongest forklift pallets possible. Weak pallets can break, dropping the load. Always stack loads uniformly and stably. Try to keep the weight evenly distributed on the pallet. Wrap loads effectively to keep products from falling or compromising stability.

2. Install Bumper and Guards

Install bumper pads to reduce forklift damage.

Forklift bumper pads cushion the load from rubbing against the equipment. These pads help minimize the abrasiveness of load transport. Reducing impact keeps products within the load from breaking.

Of course, bumper pads or guards will only help so much. It is up to the operator to travel cautiously, minimizing the impact between the load and other objects.

Bumpers and guards come in different types. 

  • Fork back bumpers insert a layer of rubber between the mast and the loads. This minimizes contact with the hard steel. These rubber bumpers absorb a lot of impact, which is especially helpful when a load hits the forklift mast during loading. 
  • Anti-slip fork covers prevent loads from falling off during sharp turns and abrupt stops. This is especially useful for those operating outdoors. Outdoor environments can get cold or wet, with lots of humidity. Excess moisture in the air and dampness causes surfaces to slick overtime. Having an anti-flip fork guard to secure your loads in these situations is that much more important.

3. Maintain Your Work Environment

Keep your workspace accident-free by making it as spacious and clean as possible.

Many warehouses have narrow aisles. This provides more storage space, but makes navigation more challenging. There’s less maneuverability for operators and their equipment. This increases the risk of accidents. If your workplace has narrow aisles, be sure to use the right equipment. Invest in a narrow aisle forklift to travel safely.

Crowded and cluttered aisles can cause a lot of damage. Avoid operating when there’s high traffic in the work area. Keep a reasonable distance between trucks. Make sure there's enough room to stop abruptly if needed.  

Lighting is also important. Facility lighting is one of the most overlooked factors in preventing damage. Good lighting can reduce forklift damage simply by increasing visibility.

4. Other Safety Measures

  • AVOID OVERLOADING. Be careful not to exceed your forklift’s maximum capacity. Take the weight of your attachments into account. Also, don’t overload shelving or racking. 
  • GET SAFETY EQUIPMENT. Safety equipment can reduce forklift damage by protecting your forklift loads and workers. Take pallet rack column protectors, for instance. If you install them, they'll absorb most impact of a forklift accident and prevent rack collapse. That protects inventory and a nearby worker that would've been struck otherwise. Installing rack safety netting also prevents workers from being injured. It also prevents cartons from falling off palletized loads and breaking open. Another safety measure includes visibility mirrors, which protect people and products at the same time. 
  • MAINTAIN MINDFUL OPERATION. Driving too fast and carelessly will result in damage. Always operate cautiously and mindfully.
An operator showing how to reduce forklift damage in a warehouse

Investing in Quality Equipment

Using these recommended practices will help you reduce forklift damage. Knowing the root of your problem is the first line of defense. Another way to combat damage is to invest in high-quality equipment.

Faulty equipment plays a big role in malfunctions and damage. Ensure all the equipment you’re using is trustworthy and reliable.

Use Industrial Forklift Truck to find quality equipment for sale in your area. 

Industrial Forklift Truck partners with top forklift dealers nationwide. Simply fill out this short form to let us know what you're looking for. We'll send you free quotes on equipment that matches your specifications. 

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