Change Forks on a Forklift

Forklifts play an important role in moving material to and from transportation vehicles and warehouses. Most forklifts are expected to handle a variety of jobs and last a long time. Fork inspection - looking for cracks, defects or bent parts that need replacing - should occur on an annual basis. A damaged fork could lead to a disastrous and potentially fatal accident. If you need to learn "How to Change Forks on a Forklift," here is the step-by-step process for safely completing the task:


  1. Read the forklift manual. There are many types of forklifts - small narrow merchandise movers, sit-down pallet movers and large boat movers - and the procedures for the replacement of forks will vary. The forklift specifications for load capacity rating should be listed in a visible area on the forklift. Do not change a fork from one forklift to another without knowing the load capacity. Only use replacement forks that have been approved for usage by the forklift manufacturer. Ensure that the new fork bears the same load capacity as the old fork.
  2. Find a wide open area with plenty of space. Lower fork until it is at the lowest height resting on the floor. If the fork is not level on the floor, you could place a piece of cardboard under it to make it rest flat.
  3. There are many different types of forklift mounting mechanisms. If your forklift does not require the forklift to be on when you change the forks, it is wise to turn the forklift off.
  4. Carefully inspect all elements of the fork and fork mount. Check the screws, pins and welds to see if they are in good, working condition. If the fork has been damaged, then the fork mount may also be damaged and need to be changed.
  5. Examine how the fork is mounted. There are three primary fork mount types: 1) standard hook, 2) non-standard hook and 3) pin. Drawing a diagram or taking a picture of the mount with your cell phone creates a valuable reference record.
  6. Some new models have quick-change forks, which are easy to manage. Older standard hook forklifts, usually have a top and bottom locking mechanism. First, release the top mechanism and when the fork begins to rest on the floor, then release the bottom mechanism. The pin lock might have a pin, rod or shaft that locks into the "eye" of the fork. When you unlock the mount and slide the pin out, the fork should be released. The non-standard hook is a combination of these other locking mechanisms.
  7. Take old forks away. You should mark them so that others know that these are old or damaged.
  8. Place new forks in front of the forklift. Then reverse your actions to lock them on the forklift mount. Make sure they are secure and completely locked by trying to shake them with your hands. Forklift accidents aren't pretty, so you might lift a small pallet with the new forks before moving to larger items just to be safe.


  • You must always remember to take every recommended safety measure you can when working with heavy machinery.


  • Even after you have done this many times, there is still the possibility of error. Safety first!

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