Using Forklifts to Push is a Mistake that can Cost you a Fortune

posted on: Wednesday June 1, 2016

uspo Load MoverWe are all well aware that the purpose of forklifts is to lift. Manufacturers, warehouses, and distribution centers all use them for this exact purpose. However, these machines are so powerful that it seems practical to use them to replace other strenuous manual labor, like pushing. Even when facility managers don’t encourage that practice, drivers will sometimes take it upon themselves to make the call. Whether it’s pushing a load on a cart or simply “helping” a load up a ramp or into a slot, forklifts are used to push things all the time.

All of these cases can end up an extremely regrettable mistake.

Let’s begin with damage to the forklift itself.  Pushing a load with a forklift is like driving a car with the parking brakes on. The drive train in particular (transmission, bearings, and gears) is subject to significant damage. Forklifts are designed to overcome forces from lifting and lowering. Everything from the drive axle to the brakes is covered by the manufacturer’s warranty when weight is applied onto the forks. Pushing an object subjects the drive train to higher loads than it’s designed for. Additionally, the inertia used to push can apply higher peak forces than it is supposed to handle. All of this can significantly reduce the life of the transmission.

This adds unnecessary repair costs to expensive equipment that is already costly to maintain. The damage to the forklift, however, is not the only risk involved.

Forks can cause a lot of damage to the objects they’re pushing. Pallets, carts, and bins can crack and break with that sort of force behind it. Worse, safety is of grave concern when choosing to push with a forklift.

We found a discussion on where a user asked how bad it was to push with a forklift. One of the responses was as follows:

“I was involved [sic] in one case where hazardous goods were placed on a truck. The forklift operator used a tyne to push 200 litre drums together to ensude [sic] they would not move in travel. The drums contained solvent. What he did not notice was that the point load cracked the drum. In travel the truck was passing a school when the leaking solvent caught fire. the [sic] resulting toxic fumes from the solvent and the other dangerous goods blew over the school and into its buildings- the end result was that every person in the school had to be decontaminated/ washed down and given full medical checks, the whole school and much of its playground and trees had to be washed down, all items in the school that could not be decontaminated had to be replaced (books and similar educational materials, carpets, curtains …). Very expensive for the company that loaded the dangerous goods, and all because a tyne was used as the pushing device.”

While the above is an extreme example, you can see how a seemingly innocent mistake led to a disaster.

The bottom line is that using a giant $50-70 thousand dollar machine is neither an efficient nor cost-effective manner to push a cart or object. Using a $10,000 electric-powered tug will accomplish the job safely and efficiently.  As a business strategy, you should always use the right tool for the job. Delegating to the lowest level of equipment to get a job done is solid business practice. A power tug is the easiest, simplest, most productive means for horizontal movement.

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If you’re ready to stop wasting money and risking your business with forklift pushing, contact Load Mover Inc. We’re driven to help you improve your business practices and keep your employees safe with our products. Find out how: 952-767-1720;