Reach Forklift Truck -Travel Tilt...

Can some one tell me why I need to use travel tilt. The warehouse I work in has no slopes/inclines pot holes etc. So why to I need to use travel tilt when unladen. I can understand when I have a load on my forks why cant I just drive with my forks level.

Big discussion at work about this.
  • Posted 25 Jun 2014 01:06
  • Modified 25 Jun 2014 01:09 by poster
  • Discussion started by ZZJASEZZ
  • BUCKINGHAMSHIRE, United Kingdom
Showing items 46 - 57 of 57 results.
I think Edward brings up the key point when he alludes to the issue of " independently verifiable statistics" to demonstrate a point at hand. In fact, if simple and valid studies were conducted by forklift trainers to justify the operator performance standards they use, all of the heated discussion about "fork tilt"/tilt-up/tilt-down/what's the best tilt angle to hit a pedestrian/ would be mute.

I know well the current USA powered industrial truck operator training rules; having testified as an expert witness at the Washington, DC hearing that resulted in it. The study I offered was sited (Federal Register) as 1 of the 2 studies used to justify the new rule's promulgation (The other was conducted by the US government's NIOSH unit). My study, associated statistics, and testimony are available in the public domain.

My point? Everyone is best-served if you both observe ALL government standards that are required, AND do your own simple study, on behalf of your employer/client. In the USA, OSHA demands compliance with all training topics listed, but allows you to disregard those an employer can demonstrate are not applicable.

For over 20 years, ALL of the instructional designs, tests, learning plans, and truck/industry specific programs that have come out of the LIFTOR process, have been beyond reproach. And, yes, Edward, I have studied forklift operating at my client locations in such detail that I have over 3000 validated on-truck test results dealing with "fork tilt"; when, how much,and under what conditions.

Finally, early in my career, clients asked me to perform detailed, validated studies of forklift training effectiveness in their various locations. I have not even scratched the surface yet on what their is to learn! I recommend that ALL Forklift Operator trainers start collecting data for their own studies on behalf of employer/clients. Stop making Sh*t up! LIFTOR.com is being designed just for that purpose. So, go there and sign-up for the free stuff. Join as a paying member/or not. Learn how to do it and make a difference. Eventually, the answers to fork tilt, and other similar operating standards will be resolved...and you won't even have to refer to the government standards to know you are doing the right thing.

Best wishes,

  • Posted 12 Jul 2014 12:50
  • Modified 12 Jul 2014 12:59 by poster
  • Reply by joe_m
  • New Jersey, United States
Operator/Examiner Certification for In-House Supervisors
Edward- Quite bemused at such a response that would question safe practices. Not personally come across such a contradiction in training methods.

Are you permitted to swap and change you training standards as and when it suits in the US? I don't believe that to be the case but I could be wrong. Seems that you personally went into that business with one intent, which was indeed to teach using forks tilted backwards, then changed your mind to suit and fit the customer. I'm not accustomed to a customer dictating my training standards.

I have no reason to doubt that the business you refer to is so insistent on travelling with their forks tilted forward. Odd, but it is a funny old world. Could you possibly divulge that business name so that I could check your 16 year safety record and verify that they do indeed insist on travelling with forks tilted forward. Never come across such a deep seated feeling within any business before and you rely upon it so much to bolster your argument that I think it needs verifying. 16 years without an accident and all down to forks being forward. Remarkable. I think we need to reassess our training standards here. wow.

Seriously - You want medical proof that an ankle is more difficult to treat than a leg injury? I very much doubt that you would be convinced in whatever was shown to you. Is it not enough for you to simply accept that tilting the forks back is a simple process that takes milliseconds and really doesn't need debating to this degree.


  • Posted 12 Jul 2014 11:22
  • Reply by Jonah
  • Merseyside, United Kingdom
Jason - Nothing personal intended. Simply replying to your question on an open forum. I responded using the current training standards in use for all instructors in the UK who operate under UK Health & Safety 1974, PUWER 1998, LOLER 1998, ACOP L117, MHASAWA 1999 and the Corporate Manslaughter Act 2008.

Those of us who are accredited instructors through one of the 6 accrediting bodies and who operate under that accreditation do certainly instruct all our students to operate in that manner and using those techniques. Our training is invalid if we don't. This forks issue is not open for interpretation here in the UK. If you travel with your forks in a manner that you have not been trained and have an accident that is reportable then you could be liable to prosecution under UK H&S law. Simple. Forks tilted back here!

I see little point in labouring over something that to most would appear to be very good practice and one that prevents more issues than it raises.

I'm not certain to what training standards or instructional manuals you follow. Mine are clear and serve me very well. You asked a question. I responded with current training practices that have been used for in excess of 20 years. If you disagree so strongly with those then perhaps you could take it up with ITSSAR, RTITB, AITT, NPORS and the HSE and HSC in the UK. Im sure they'd like to here what you have to say.


  • Posted 12 Jul 2014 10:37
  • Reply by Jonah
  • Merseyside, United Kingdom
I have had a customer that is a manufacturer, and a division of a fortune 500 corporation, with over 200 employees and over 60 forklifts in an air-conditioned enclosed plant.
They have an over _16_ -year- safety record without _ANY_ accidents involving forklifts. Their standard says they travel, when unladen, with the fork -tips- 6 to 9 inches off the floor, tilted forward. I taught operator safety for them, and was told I was incorrect to insist on them travelling with the forks tilted up, and with that kind of safety record, I don't see how anyone could insist they do anything different.
Their 6 year old forklifts, when traded in, look like new forklifts that have sat in the corner they have so little scratched paint.
I do recognize that in a lot of operations they would have had injuries and damage from people driving with the forks not tilted back, but their methods of employee satisfaction are not the same as in those locations, and everyone in their plant intends to be long term employees and shows genuine concern for their fellow employees.
I am also aware of major trucking companies who for a very long time insisted on travel unladen with the forks tiled down, as their logic was that they would be less likely to have a problem with pedestrian impacts. as far as I know, those trucking companies have changed to match the "industry standard" of tilted back travel always.
one size may not fit all,,, after all.
I would also ask Jonah who claims " It is far easier to repair a damaged shin/leg bone than it is to repair a damaged ankle/tendons/Achilles heel", if he is making assumptions, or does he actually have independently verifiable statistics to back up his claim, and/or is he a orthopaedic surgeon?
  • Posted 12 Jul 2014 08:46
  • Modified 12 Jul 2014 22:26 by poster
  • Reply by edward_t
  • South Carolina, United States
"it's not rocket surgery"
Thank you for spending time to write your lengthy reply even though I find that some of you comments are belittling and also not applicable.
Once more our warehouse floor is level and smooth, no cables or kerbs. On my last Instructors refresh I was told not to speak about injuries to legs ankles etc we are not medical professionals and plainly don't drive close to pedestrians. Yes I am an Instructor and have been for many years thank you. I'm sure Jonah If you drive you drive your car safely of do you drive your car the way you have been trained and tested or do you apply some common sense.

So lets look how the practical test sheet was constructed.

A group of senior Instructors/assessors that have looked at every aspect of driving/operating FLT. Looking at every hazard that could occur in a working environment. To cover us the Instructors. Isnt the operator allowed to apply some commonsense to his working environment ?

But thanks again for your view but please refrain from getting personal.

Regards Jason..
  • Posted 12 Jul 2014 04:54
  • Modified 12 Jul 2014 04:59 by poster
  • Reply by ZZJASEZZ
  • BUCKINGHAMSHIRE, United Kingdom
A number of reasons for this. Firstly, it is never a wrong thing to follow good practice and keep to the same good habits.

Travelling with the forks tilted slightly back is always going to be the safest method of travel, regardless of being laden or unladen. So get into the habit of doing it regardless of what the neighsayers think.

We already know that applying sufficient stabilising back tilt when carrying a load not only helps stabilise the load and the truck but it also ensures that the load centre or centre of gravity of the load is reduced which stabilises the truck further. A good thing.

Applying back tilt when un-laden (your op question) serves a number of purposes. It keeps us in good practice for carrying loads. It also sets the forks into a safer position to allow for any sudden changes or variations in the ground or terrain and therefore reduces the chances of your fork tips digging into the ground or contacting hazardous objects such as kerbs etc and throwing you through the mast! Not a good thing!

From a general safety point of view, the positioning of the fork tips in relation to a pedestrian's body can be crucial in case of impact. With the forks tilted forward or level during travel, you are likely to hit a pedestrian in the ankle area. With the fork tips tilted slightly backwards you are more likely to hit a pedestrian higher and in the shin or leg bones. It is far easier to repair a damaged shin/leg bone than it is to repair a damaged ankle/tendons/achiles heel etc. Crippled for life time!

We could also add that in the majority of material handling environments that we find low lying electrical items such as sockets and cables as well as pipework for water and gas. These are usually situated at or around ankle height too. I'd try whatever was needed to avoid touching those with a large chunk of steel pointed steel.

So, when you get back to work simply ask your colleagues if they would rather spend 8 weeks in plaster with a broken leg or a lifetime in a wheel chair with facial plastic surgery?

Never ceases to amaze me the discussions and opinions operators have over the slightest of issues. If someone has an issue over something as mundane as adding a little more back tilt when travelling un-laden then perhaps they shouldn't be operating a truck and should be attending the latest mothers meeting instead!

What surprises me even more is that the OP says in his sig that he is an ITSSAR FLT Instructor? This is basic stuff. Should know better!

Hope that answers your question on why we need to apply back tilt when un-laden.

I wouldn't mind betting that your colleagues also argue about wearing a seat belt or the need to wear rubber gloves when checking/topping up the acid levels. Perhaps they also disagree with selecting neutral and applying the handbrake before using the hydraulics?


  • Posted 11 Jul 2014 19:38
  • Modified 11 Jul 2014 21:28 by poster
  • Reply by Jonah
  • Merseyside, United Kingdom
When you do your test you are told to tilt back when travelling the thought behind this is if you hit a kerb forks will slide up in practice im not to sure
  • Posted 1 Jul 2014 16:44
  • Reply by alanmitsi
  • essex, United Kingdom
Thanks Richard that makes good sense..
  • Posted 28 Jun 2014 02:45
  • Reply by ZZJASEZZ
  • BUCKINGHAMSHIRE, United Kingdom
To travel lift tilt up is a good practice. The operators will always do this when travelling with or without load and they will never forget whether there is a load or without.
  • Posted 28 Jun 2014 00:42
  • Reply by richard_y
  • Singapore, Singapore
Thanks for your replies,

Had to check my original post. My query as above having to use travel tilt when unladen which means without a load. As above I understand if you have a load as I have mentioned above.
  • Posted 25 Jun 2014 04:33
  • Reply by ZZJASEZZ
  • BUCKINGHAMSHIRE, United Kingdom
The operators find it even easier when the reach truck has auto levelling fitted, auto centring sideshift is a bonus to.

It doesn't really bother me how the operators drive the truck, they normally forget all the good practices they learn once they have been passed ok to operate the truck.

If the operator doesn't want to tilt the forks back then if they loose the load they can clear the mess up afterwards.
  • Posted 25 Jun 2014 04:17
  • Reply by Forkingabout
  • england, United Kingdom
alot of accidents on lift trucks are due to operators not carrying the load correctly. I can only assume the mfg is just trying to idiot proof the situation forcing the operator to tilt back to insure load stability.

Is it that difficult to drive with forks tilted back?
it only requires a predetermined decision by the operator to decide when he is going to have to level the forks when approaching a pallet or load. That is not that difficult. And it makes him tilt back after grabbing the load to insure safe load carrying.

Hope this explains it
Anyone else have an opinion? ;o)
  • Posted 25 Jun 2014 02:39
  • Reply by swoop223
  • North Carolina, United States
You've been swooped!

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