Forklift Maintenance and Repair Expert Article

In this article, Mechanical Engineer, Stanley Jaworski, P.E., provides an introduction to industrial truck inspection and repair, including some of the relevant standards.

Forklift Expert

Industrial Truck (Forklift) Maintenance

Most of us have had the dreaded experience where a problem develops with our car, but when we take it in for service the technician cannot repeat the issue. Too often we are sent on our way without resolution, in a questionably safe vehicle. This same issue occurs with forklifts and other industrial trucks. Modern lift trucks are not entirely different from automobiles; they are equipped with sophisticated computer systems, including diagnostic error codes. Service and repair of these vehicles requires a high degree of training and technical expertise.

Our experts are often retained in cases where an earlier malfunction in a lift truck could not be repeated by the service technician and was put back into service without repair. When these same vehicles are involved in incidents, our experts are tasked with determining whether or not the malfunction was a contributing cause in the incident and if the lift truck was properly diagnosed and serviced before being returned to service.

Inspection & Repair of Industrial Trucks + Other Helpful Information

Definition of Industrial Truck

OSHA defines a powered industrial truck as, “Any mobile power-propelled truck used to carry, push, pull, lift, stack or tier materials. Powered industrial trucks can be ridden or controlled by a walking operator. Earth moving and over the road haulage trucks are not included in the definition. Equipment that was designed to move earth but has been modified to accept forks are also not included.”

Inspection & Repair

When approached with these cases, it is necessary to determine whether or not a repair or service call was properly executed, including determining if the service provider followed the appropriate steps in troubleshooting and correcting an error before returning equipment to service.

Appropriate service can take a lot of forms depending on the issue at hand, but is specific when a reported issue is intermittent or when adequate corrective action of a reported issue is not clear to the maintenance technician. Below we have provided an operational flow that should be followed in the event that a system malfunction cannot be properly resolved:

  1. Confirm the nature and circumstances involved with the specific operational failure of the equipment.
  2. Operate the equipment in a controlled environment until the fault is observed first-hand by maintenance personnel.
  3. Review the maintenance history of the equipment to identify any trends or related maintenance issues.
  4. Consult the applicable vehicle maintenance manuals and related documents.
  5. Involve other technicians, including manufacturer authorized service centers, to elicit their experience and maintenance history of the specific reported issue.
  6. Contact the manufacturer’s technical support.
  7. Keep the equipment out of service until the reported issue is remediated.

The work flow stops at any point if the issue can be resolved, but in order to promote employee safety, it is essential to adequately troubleshoot and repair any malfunctioning equipment before returning it to service. Failure to follow this rule exposes employees to a potentially dangerous condition should the known malfunction recur.

Relevant Standards

Some of the standards relevant to the maintenance and repair of industrial trucks, include:

29 CFR 1910.178(q)(1-12) OSHA, Materials Handling and Storage, Powered Industrial Trucks, Maintenance of Industrial Trucks

ANSI.B56.1.1969 (701,702) Safety Standards for Powered Industrial Trucks, Maintenance Practices

Incident Reconstruction

When necessary, our experts can conduct a reconstruction to determine the cause of the incident and whether or not the claimed malfunction contributed to the cause. Please contact us to discuss incident reconstruction within the scope of your case.

Complete Investigations

We have the experts to assist in a complete investigation of injuries. Experts in warehouse operations and facilities engineering complement Stan's expertise with industrial trucks. When appropriate, we also have experts in biomechanics and materials failure analysis.

Featured Expert

Stanley Jaworski, Mechanical Engineer & Building Systems Expert

Stanley Jaworski, P.E., C.F.E.I., C.V.F.I.

Mechanical Engineer & Building Systems Expert
Stanley Jaworski is a mechanical engineer with a broad base of professional and vocational experience; his background includes more than ten years of engineering experience involving HVAC and… read more.


View All Articles

Brake Failure in Powered Industrial Vehicles

By Stanley Jaworski
Expert Article

In some portion of industrial truck investigations, the cause of the crash can be linked to a failure in the braking system. Brake failure on vehicles in industrial or construction environments can…

Construction Vehicle Back-Overs

By Gregory H. Pestine
Expert Overview

Construction vehicles which pose a risk for back-over incidents include pick-up trucks, workers’ private vehicles, dump trucks, ready-mix concrete trucks, tractor trailers, heavy equipment such…

A Crash Course on Vehicle Fires

By Peter J. Leiss
Expert Article

In this article, the fire investigators at Robson Forensic provide an introduction to vehicle fire investigations, which can include cars, trucks, RVs, agricultural tractors, industrial mobile…