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How Many Forklift Types Are There?

April 5, 2021

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How many forklift types are there? We're glad you asked because the answer is simple. Six... and a half?

Okay, just kidding. It's not that simple. Under OSHA regulations, forklifts are classified as a type of powered industrial truck, or PIT. If you're wondering what a PIT is, this explanation might help:

"They can be used to move, raise, lower, or remove large objects or a number of smaller objects on pallets or in boxes, crates, or other containers." (OSHA)

Additionally, PITs are not road-legal. They are only approved for use on worksites and in warehouse-type settings. Here's where things get a little confusing. PITs are broken into seven classifications, six of which cover machines with forks. The outlier is a Class VI truck, which is an electric and internal combustion tractor. So, let's look at the other six classifications.

Class I Truck

Class I Trucks

Class 1 PITs are electric motor rider trucks. They run on battery power, so they don’t produce any emissions. These models are best for indoor use for that reason.

Class II Truck

Class II Trucks

Next, we have Class 2 PITs, which are electric motor narrow aisle trucks. These trucks are designed to operate in tight spaces. Many industries use these for picking and putting away inventory.

Class III Truck

Class III Trucks

We also have class 3 PITs, which are electric motor hand trucks and pallet jacks. They are good for unloading inventory off trucks and transporting items short distances in small indoor spaces.

Class IV Truck

Class IV Trucks

Class 4 PITs are internal combustion engine trucks with cushion tires. These trucks run on liquid propane fuel or diesel fuel and are made to operate indoors.

Class V Truck

Class V Trucks

Class 5 PITs are internal combustion engine trucks with pneumatic tires. Much like Class 4 forklifts, these run on liquid propane fuel or diesel fuel; however, the pneumatic tires allow these trucks to operate on rough surfaces and outdoors.

Class VII Truck

Class VII Trucks

Class 7 PITs are rough terrain forklifts. Telescopic handlers are considered class 7 forklifts. These trucks come with large tires and they are used to in larger scale projects such as in lumber yards or on construction sites.

In conclusion, there are six types of forklifts according to OSHA. And, it's important to know which one is right for your workplace. We hope this information has helped you understand the differences in machines so you can select the appropriate one. For powered industrial truck safety training, check out our catalog. We have trainings for machines that fall within each classification.

Good luck and stay safe!

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