Most of us have a good idea of what a forklift looks like but there are actually seven specific classifications of forklifts or industrial trucks. The classifications are established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, and include the following types of forklifts:


Class I: Electric Motor Rider Trucks

Counterbalance Ride 4 Wheel Cushion, 3 Wheel Sit-Down Cushion, 4 Wheel Sit-Down either type of tire, Counterbalance 3 Wheel Stand-Up Electric


Class II: Electric Narrow Aisle Trucks

High-Lift Straddle, Reach Truck, Order Picker, Reach Type Outrigger, Side-Loader: Platform, Side-Loader: High-Lift Pallet, Turret Truck, Low-Lift: Platform, Low-Lift Pallet


Class III: Electric Motor Hand Trucks

Low-Lift Platform, Low Lift Walkie Pallet, Center Control, Walkie Stacker, Floor-Runner Tow Tractor, Reach Type Outrigger, High-Lift Straddle, Single Face Pallet, High-Lift Platform, High-Lift Counterbalance, Low Lift Walkie/Rider Pallet and End Control


Class IV: Internal Combustion Engine Truck(Solid/Cushion Tires)

Fork, Counterbalanced


Class V: Internal Combustion Engine Trucks (Pneumatic Tires)

Fork, Counterbalanced


Class VI: Electric and Internal Combustion Engine Tractors

Sit-Down Rider (Draw Bar Pull Over 999 lbs.)


Class VII: Rough Terrain Forklift Trucks

Vertical Mast Type, Variable Reach Type, Truck/Trailer Mounted


These classifications give some general differences between forklifts, such as different types of tires, power sources and terrain. Within each classification, there are also options for load-bearing, maneuverability and control.

Forklifts can be fitted with pneumatic tires, which are made of a durable rubber that can go outdoors. These tires can be similar to the tires on your car, or solid tires, called cushion tires in the industry, which are made of solid rubber, typically used on forklifts that will be used indoors on hard and flat surfaces.


Aside from the tires, there are some basic elements that make up most forklifts. They include:


Frame: The foundation of all the forklift parts


Counterweight: Used to stabilize the forklift when lifting heavy loads


Power Source: Usually liquid propane gas, gasoline, diesel engine or batteries


Mast: Hydraulically operated lift used to raise and lower a load


Forks: Prongs that lift up a wooden pallet


Load Back-Rest: Keeps the load from shifting backwards


Overhead Guard: Protects the operator from a falling load


Forklifts can be outfitted with different attachments, such as for carrying barrels or rolls of paper instead of lifting pallets, and each type of forklift class is designed for certain types of loads and specific working conditions.

Forklift operators are expected to pass a test specific for the type of forklift they will be using before they’re allowed to operate a forklift.


For more details, contact the dealer closest to you:


Connecticut & HQ

11 Defco Park Road, North Haven, CT 06473
Phone: 203-239-5351
Fax: 203-234-8090


Eastern CT

39 Murphy Road, Franklin, CT 06254
Phone: 860-642-4377
Fax: 860-642-4521



37 Ramah Circle, Agawam, MA 01001
Phone: 413-789-4537
Fax: 413-789-4361


NYC-Long Island

63 Mall Drive, Commack, NY 11725
Phone: 631-236-4466
Fax: 631-864-2382


Hudson Valley

2500 Route 208, Walden, NY. 12586
Phone: 845-764-8466
Fax: 845-522-8173





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