Forklift Trucks- Welding Modifications

I had a request from a visitor to our site asking me write a blog about welding on forklift trucks having been in the business for over 25 years he wanted to know about my experiences.  So here goes.

The Forklift Truck

Reputed to have been invented in 1917 by a transmission manufacturer to handle their product, Clark Materials. Handling had the first forklift as an actual machine for sale in 1918. Although similar is concept to today’s fork trucks, the modern day machine is vastly different and uses electronics and “fly by wire”controls to provide precise levels of movement.

When I first got involved with the welding repairs and fabrication of attachments back in the 80’s you could pretty much modify and make up various bits as you liked.

Any attachments had to be SWL (safe working load) tested to the correct load but as far as design, it was up to the individual engineer to make sure that the product was fit for purpose.   These days all that has changed.

If you want to make up a special lifting attachment to go on your own truck or a customers truck you need to be able to “CE” mark it with a special manufacturers label.

This control has come into force to protect people from accidents happening whereby a badly designed and made attachment fails and injures someone.

There should be a paper trial with documents such as design drawings and calculations.

Also SWL considerations. It is quite expensive to travel down this route and you often find that is not economical to pursue for a one off job. Anyway I’ve digressed enough already.

Welding repairs to forklift trucks these days is tightly controlled, usually by the manufacturer.

When they supply a new forklift truck, they will have gone down the route of all the designs and calculations and invested a considerable sum in their product. It will have all the regional safety approvals and have a “CE” mark. The last thing they need is someone coming along and modifying a particular part of the truck as this will make their product fall outside of the very scheme that they have strived to adhere to. It will also play havoc with any quality scheme such as BS 9001.

Just imagine that you are a local welder and you are asked by a manager of a business to modify an overhead guard on his fork truck so that he can get it in underneath a low headroom door. You are a perfectly competant welder so you work out that if you chop a section of the guard out and re weld the bits back together, it will fit under the doorway. Off you go and carry out a first class job! Well done!

Now, six months later there is an accident involving the forklift truck where a stack of pallets containing some heavy items has toppled over and struck the truck on the top side of the overhead guard. The guard held together ok but the driver was injured. Now the “HSE” (health and safety executive) are called in as this kind of accident is  notifiable in the UK. The first thing they are going to ask to see is the record of periodic maintenance for the truck.
Assuming this is all ok the next thing they will notice is that the guard has been modified. Who do you think they will be wanting to interview because the truck is now no longer covered by the manufacturers original specification?


All I will say is be very careful if you carry out any modifications to forklift trucks.

The best way forward is to get official written permission to carry out a modification from the manufacturer first. This often takes the form of an official notice of modification. They have to know that what you are proposing to do will not affect the safe operation of their equipment. It will probably involve so engineering drawings and notes carefully explaining the modification. If it is anything to do with an overhead guard they will probably say no.

 As with all my articles, I encourage you to do your own research into these subjects. These articles are my own point of view and are not intended to be advice in any way.

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