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What you Need to Know When Renting a Forklift

Forklifts are powerful hydraulic machinery that can change the way you operate on a job site.

Essentially a pallet jack on steroids, these monster can lift heavy no loads without breaking a sweat. Forklifts are small enough to maneuver in tight areas but are powerful enough to lift thousands of pounds of equipment and materials.

Capable of multiple different jobs, forklifts increase a constructions teams versatility and ability to complete hard labor jobs.

Different Jobs for a Forklift


Behind the scenes of retail stores, are massive warehouses. The average warehouse in the U.S. is now between 25,000 and 50,000 square feet.

And with all that product and free space, the only way to navigate and move products and goods is with a forklift.

Forklifts allow warehouse workers to stack products and pallets on top of each other, even at great heights.

Without a forklift, warehouse operations and maintenance would come to a standstill.


Construction is heavy duty work.

Forklifts can easily move heavy construction equipment and parts into place.

Construction job sites may also be large and take time to move around.

Now imagine needing to move a large and amount of steel or concrete?

It’d be impossible to complete even if you used pallet jacks and other smaller equipment.

But when using hydraulic construction equipment like forklifts, the job becomes a piece of cake.

Loading Docks/Shipping

Have you ever received a large shipment of goods?

If you had to unload all the shipments by hand, I feel sorry for you.

Nowadays, it’s a lot easier to just load everything on a pallet and use a forklift to unload.

That’s why large shipments from B2B (Business to Business) is often loaded on a pallet and shipped through trucking companies.

Today, every loading dock/shipping company and even retail stores will own a forklift to help with the inventory and unloading process of products and goods.


Transporting worker(s) into hard to reach places is not the primary use of a forklift, but they can be used as a substitute to boom lifts and scissor lifts.

Of course, standing on the forks of the lift is dangerous, a liability, and could be a violation under OSHA rules and regulations, so if you do decide to use it as a lift, practice caution.

Some forklifts will have specific attachments such as cages and harnesses for transporting people. These are the correct ways to utilize forklift for raising and moving individuals.

Different Types and Styles of Forklifts

Standard forklifts, although versatile, will not fit every job’s demand perfectly.

This is where different size and style forklifts come into play.

Here are a list of the different forklifts and their functionalities:

Order Picker

Often used in warehouses and large retail stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot, the order picker lifts the operator up in order to ‘pick’ the goods on high shelving.

Operators can grab the item they need, place it on the platform and then safely lower themselves back down.

Telehandler/Telescopic Forklift

If a boom lift and a forklift had a child, this is what it would look like.

These forklifts have an extendable arm which is often referred to as a ‘boom.’

The telehandler helps move material and objects into hard angle positions at great heights.

Counterbalance Forklift

These forklifts will often come in the 3-wheel variants. With two wheels in the front and one in the back.

This allows the forklift to navigate super tight spaces and spin 360 degrees.

They are mostly used for indoor operations.

Industrial Forklift

If you’re looking for the most heavy duty and strongest forklifts, look no further than an industrial forklift.

Much larger than your standard forklift, the industrial style forklift has extreme weight load capacities, sometimes pushing almost 30,000 pounds.

Often used in the largest warehouses to move supersized pallets of goods and materials.

Pallet Jack

It’s not much of a forklift, but it has the same practicality.

Designed to move pallets by pumping the jack and pushing with your own strength, they do not have anywhere near the same weight capacity of a standard forklift.

Pallet jacks are best used in situations of smaller retail stores and loading docks.

Most truckers will also carry a pallet jack in their semi-truck to aid in moving pallets inside their trailer.

Rough Terrain Forklift

Exactly as the name states, rough terrain forklifts are used in outdoor operations in tougher conditions.

With tougher tires and resistant to the weather, these machines can operate in dirt, mud, rain, sleet, and even snow.

Forklift Safety Tips


Whenever you’re working with heavier construction machinery and equipment and forklifts, the risk of injury or death is much higher.

Forklifts are heavy, often weighing over 9,000 pounds. Many forklift injuries and deaths are caused by objects falling off the forklift, being impaled by the forks, or run over by the lift itself.

Receive the Proper Training

Operating a forklift is dangerous work.

But it’s even more dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Anyone who operates a forklift without a license or the proper qualifications risks a serious lawsuit to all parties involved.

To get your forklift certification, you must undergo training with the company you work for or through a certification school near you.

Clear the Area

Make sure you clear all obstacles and debris from an area before operating a forklift.

If not, you risk damaging or destroying anything in and around the forklift.

Often times, forklift operators don’t have the best visibility due to the lift cylinder blocking their view. 

Objects and individuals may not be seen, so it’s best to just clear the area completely and prevent accidents from happening completely.

Do not Walk Directly in Front of the Forklift

Even if the forklift is at a dead stop, it’s never a good idea to walk right in front of the machine.

Individuals have been impaled and killed by the forks of the machine.

Don’t become another statistic and stand out of the way.

Use the Horn

If you’re a forklift operator, using the horn can save someones life.

Using the horn alerts people of your presence and notifies them to stand clear!

Be sure to use the horn when backing up or going around corners.

Verify Load Stability

Losing control and dropping a pallet full of heavy materials is all too common for forklift operators.

Practice caution by grabbing and forking loads slowly.

When you do initially pick up a load, do so only a few inches to ensure that it won’t tip over.

If the load or pallet is unbalanced, place it down and readjust, simple as that.

Use a Spotter

Using a spotter when operating a forklift ensures a much safer scene.

Some stores such as Home Dept, require a spotter to work with a forklift operator at all times when the store is open to customers.

Spotters help clear the area and act as a second set of eyes to prevent accidents.

If you’re ever nervous about operating in a tight or crowded space, don’t hesitate to ask for help. It’ll never hurt.

Do Not Overload

Even though forklifts are built strong, it doesn’t mean they don’t have limits.

Overloading the forks on a lift can cause it to tip over.

Before renting or purchasing a forklift, always look up the manufacturers weight capacity rating.

Don’t Speed

Forklifts are pretty fast, but that doesn’t mean you can operate them like its a race track.

In big open spaces like parking lots with no people, it’s okay to move fast.

But slowing down is always the safest way to move about.


Forklift safety continues even when the forklift is turned off and ready to be put away.

Forklifts should be parked on even/flat ground. Uneven ground or even the slightest incline can cause a runaway forklift.

Put the lift in park and lower the forks all the way to avoid individuals walking into them in the dark or by accident.

Use wooden blocks behind and in front of the wheels to ensure extra safety.