A Breakdown of the 7 Classes of Forklifts 

It can be challenging to decide which forklift to use because there are seven classes.

You may need to decide whether to utilize electric or internal combustion power or which forklift class to use indoors or outdoors.

But before this dilemma gives you a headache, here are the seven classes of forklifts, how they work, and where they are most efficient.

the 7 Classes of Forklifts

Class I: Electric Motor Rider Trucks

If you have a smooth indoor or dry outdoor surface and need a quiet forklift that releases no emissions, Class 1 is the best choice.

Class 1 vehicles have pneumatic or cushion tires and a large battery that serves as a power supply and a counterbalance.

They also come in various models, with Toyota offering eight, with weight capacities ranging from 3000 to 40000 lbs.

Class II: Electric Motor Narrow Aisle Trucks 

Class II is electric-powered and perfect for tight spaces like restocking shelves with a lifting capacity of 5500 lbs.

However, their narrow design makes them less stable, especially when carrying heavy loads. Therefore, they also require special training to reduce the risk of tipping.

Class III: Electric Motor Hand Trucks or Hand/Rider Trucks

These electric-powered forklifts are designed for small spaces with a loading capacity of lower than 10998 lbs.

They are primarily used in light-duty applications such as horizontal transportation of goods and order picking.

However, Class III has limited capacity making them unsuitable for heavy-duty applications. They also require a flat-level surface for safe operation.

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

Due to their counterweight, Class IVs are ideal for smooth, dry indoor or outdoor floors like those found in lumberyards, shipping ports, and construction sites.

Using counterbalance, Class IV forklifts carry most of their weight at the back, countering it at the front to maintain balance.

Additionally, Class IV has a loading capacity of between 11000 and 17600 lbs.

Here are some common advantages and disadvantages, although they may vary with a specific manufacturer and model.

Advantages Disadvantages
Suitable for use on flat surfaces and indoor applications and maneuverability in tight spaces Noisy and produce exhaust fumes
Lower operating costs than propane or diesel models Require more maintenance than electric models
Reliable and durable for heavy loads with quick acceleration and faster travel speeds Limited to outdoor use due to emissions

Class V: Internal Combustion Engine Trucks (Pneumatic Tires)

Pneumatic tires enable Class V forklifts to function outdoors, particularly on construction sites, warehouses, ports, and lumber yards.

Class V can also transport heavier loads than Class IV since it can operate on uneven terrain. Additionally, they are faster than class IV, with a loading capacity of between 17602 and 24298 lbs.

However, since they are not electric powered, they emit more pollutants and can be noisy and challenging to operate in tight spaces.

Class VI: Electric and Internal Combustion Engine Tractors

You can use Class VI to tow heavy loads rather than lift.

They are also easier to maneuver than Class V, making them ideal for airports and assembly line areas. 

Yet, since they also use internal combustion, they can be noisy and emit more pollutants, thus perfect for outdoors or airy indoors.

Class VII. Rough Terrain Forklift Trucks

Because of their huge flotation tires, Class VII is ideal for outdoor applications such as farms, uneven terrain areas, loggers, and building sites.

They can also lift and move heavy loads of materials quickly.

However, they are noisy and more prone to tipping as they have a higher center of gravity.

Tips on How to Operate Forklifts Safely 

There are several reasons to operate your forklift safely. 

For instance, it helps reduce accidents and injuries while moving goods from one location to another without damaging them.

So, here are tips you can leverage to ensure your employees operate a forklift safely:

  1. Always conduct pre-operation checks before using a forklift to inspect if the forklift is working properly.
  2. Wear appropriate personal protective clothing like safety glasses and high visibility vests when operating a forklift.
  3. Always have a clear view of where they are going and ensure that no people or objects are in their path. 
  4. Stay within the forklift’s weight capacity to ensure the balance and stability of your load.
  5. Always accelerate and decelerate smoothly and gradually, as sudden stops and starts can cause the forklift to tip over. 

Get specialized Forklift Training for Your Business

Even knowing where to use the forklifts. You still need to know how to use them safely.

Forklifts are heavy and dangerous machines. So your employees should handle them carefully to avoid accidents and injuries.

The best way to achieve this is through training by professionals who understand the dos and don’ts of forklift operating.

Our specialized B2B forklift training program ensures you receive the best training possible. 

We understand the requirements set by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and provide top-quality training for your employees.

Contact us today to enroll your employees in our forklift training program. With our training, you can ensure their safety and increase productivity while reducing downtime.