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What is a Forklift Truck? – A Simple Guide

What is a Forklift Truck? – A Simple Guide

If you work in a warehouse or any other type of industrial setting, you’ve probably seen a forklift truck. But what is a forklift truck, exactly? A forklift truck, also known as a forklift or lift truck, is a powered industrial truck used to move heavy goods by lifting them horizontally or vertically with a pronged fork attached to the front. 

Forklifts are an essential piece of equipment, where they are used to move large quantities of goods quickly and efficiently. They come in a variety of sizes and capacities to suit the needs of different businesses, which is why many industries and businesses rely on them. 

If you’re thinking of purchasing or operating a forklift truck, it’s important to understand the basics of how they work. In this blog post, we’ll provide a simple guide to forklift trucks. We’ll also cover some essential safety tips for working with them.

The most important parts of forklift trucks 

  • Engine – responsible for providing the power to move the forklift.
  • Power train – responsible for transferring that power to the wheels.
  • Hydraulics – responsible for operating the forks and lifting mechanisms. 
  • Operator platform – provides a safe and comfortable place for the operator to work.
  • Mast – the vertical part of the forklift that raises and lowers the load. 
  • Tiller – located at the back of the forklift and is used to steer it left and right.
  • Chassis – The frame of the truck on which everything else is mounted.
  • Carriage – a platform on which forks are mounted, and it moves up and down along the mast.
  • Forks – two metal prongs that can be raised or lowered to hold or drop objects to be carried.
  • Overhead guard – protects the operator from falling objects. 
  • Drive wheels – provide traction to move the load forward or backward. 

How does a forklift work?

Forklift trucks employ a complicated combination of hydraulics, electronics, and gears to effortlessly lift, pull, and position a variety of items. The fork is maybe the most significant component of this working system. 

The truck typically has two sets of hydraulic cylinders that allow the operator to raise and lower the forks. The forks may be raised and lowered based on the object’s size and weight, allowing the truck to effortlessly grab and carry massive goods.

The forklift consists of a mast, which is attached to a truck. The mast has two vertical posts, between which is a horizontal platform. This platform is where the load is placed. To raise or lower the load, the operator uses a hydraulic system to control the mast. The truck’s engine provides the power for the hydraulic cylinders and drives the wheels. 

Most forklifts have four wheels, with two caster wheels at the back and two drive wheels at the front. Some models have additional wheels in the center of the truck to help support larger loads.

The operator controls the forklift using a set of handle levers located on the right-hand side of the cab. Additionally, forklifts are equipped with stability sensors that help to prevent toppling or tipping during operation. This makes them indispensable for moving materials safely within busy factory environments. 

Safety precautions for handling forklifts 

Forklift trucks can be dangerous if not operated safely. Approximately around 20,000 workers are injured every year in forklift-related accidents (source). Some basic safety precautions to remember are:

  • Never operate a forklift truck if you are tired or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Allow only trained and authorized operators to operate a forklift truck since appropriate training can prevent around 70% of all accidents (source).
  • Keep a safe distance from other people and objects when operating a forklift truck.
  • Before using the forklift truck, inspect it and report any issues right away.
  • Never overload the forklift truck or try to lift more than it is designed to carry.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the proper operation of the forklift truck.
  • Always wear proper safety gear, including a hard hat, safety glasses, and earplugs or muffs.
  • When transporting goods, ensure that they are securely attached to the forks with straps or chains.
  • Avoid using mobile phones while operating.


If you’re looking for a forklift truck, Magnum Material Handling is the perfect place to start. We offer new and pre-owned forklifts for sale or lease, as well as parts, service, rentals, and Certification Training courses for your employees. 

At Magnum, we pride ourselves on supplying quality and dependable forklift trucks. We are the complete solution provider, in Toronto, Ontario, and surrounding areas for your material handling needs. 

Contact us today to learn more about our products and services!


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