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Forklift Training Tips: How To Inspect A Forklift’s Tips, Heels And Hooks

Filed under: Forklift Operators - Safety & Guides

A forklift driver must undergo a training certification process before getting behind the wheel, but after the lessons are complete and the requirements fulfilled, each operator is responsible for the safety of the people around them when they turn on the machine. Part of this responsibility is inspecting the forklift’s individual parts to ensure that they are in proper working order.

This is especially true for the tips, heels, forks and hooks. The forks are under constant strain and pressure. They are required by law to be examined before and after each use. Also, the heels, hooks and tips never should be overlooked during routine inspections, because they are so pivotal to the safety of the operator and those around the truck. Also, poor maintenance of these parts can lead to expensive damage.

forklift inspection

Tips, Heels And Hooks Require Regular, Thorough Inspection

Here are some tips on how to inspect these parts:


These components bear the brunt of the load when raising and transporting items. If one breaks while cargo is in the air, the forklift may collapse. Before operators climb into the driver’s seat, they must make sure that the hooks are securely fastened to the shaft.


These are the metal pieces that form right angles inside the prongs or shafts of the forklift. They provide support for lifting.

Heels should be reviewed for cracks before each use, because every time the forks carry a load, the shafts of the forklift stretch and create fissures in the metal. After every lift, the metal becomes weaker, and the cracks increase in size.

The width of the heel also must be examined. When heels contact the floor, the bottom is worn down. This is especially important if the forklift is operating on harsh surfaces, like concrete or blacktop.

The depth of the heel can be measured with a fork caliper. This measurement should be compared to the fork upright-shank width. A forklift’s tires and the prong chains also should be observed daily. If either is past its prime, the forks could drop to the ground.


Poorly maintained tips can be sources of intense frustration. They prevent loads from engaging and disengaging properly.

The tips are situated on the end of the forklift shafts or arms and easily can be impaired if they are used to push freight onto the hooks. They also may be damaged if they graze building structures.

Like the heels, the tips should be assessed with a fork caliper and should be replaced when they are less than 3 percent higher than the length of the blade. For example, a 42-inch fork set may only have a tip height difference of 1 inch before replacement or repair is required.

Hyster forklifts

Other Guidelines For Forklift Inspections

A forklift is a complex piece of machinery, but with proper maintenance and careful attention to any binding, a truck can last well past its prime. Here are a few other features to check during any forklift inspection:

1. Oil pressure is stable
2. Radiator has no leaks
3. Engine coolant is clear
4. Transmission fluid is translucent
5. Engine casing is firmly secure
6. Valves are air tight
7. Fork is undamaged
8. Parts are well-fastened to the axle
9. Chassis is in good condition
10. Safety equipment is present

Like all construction machinery, a forklift that’s not properly maintained can be a hazard to everyone around it. Keep your truck running smoothly, and not only will you reduce the risks faced by workers, but you’ll also save repair money in the long run.

forklift inspection

Tom Reddon is a forklift specialist for National Forklift Exchange where he writes about tips on maintenance, safety, and more. Connect with Tom via Twitter @TomReddon

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How do I determine if the depth of the heel on my fork is still sufficient?

David Oberholzer
May 16, 2014 - 10:23 am

Hi David,

You’ll need to use a calliper to compare the heel to the fork arm shank. Here is a handy diagram that explains this in more detail:$FILE/forkinspectionposter.pdf

AAL Admin
May 16, 2014 - 10:41 am



Is it possible legally to grind the tip height down legally? without affecting the LOLER cert?                       

craig rendle
April 26, 2017 - 9:05 pm

Very interesting and informative article. I think you presented a compelling argument in support of forklift rentals and one that I absolutely agree with.   

September 08, 2017 - 2:28 am

                      How to inspect angularity for the fork

amr haider
February 08, 2018 - 1:23 pm

A friend of mine might be working with forklifts for a job he applied to, so thanks for sharing these tips. I like your point about replacing the tips of the forklift if they are 3% higher than the blade. I can see why having this difference in tip height would be important so the loads engage and disengage properly.

Derek Dewitt
August 24, 2018 - 1:55 am

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