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Don't Overlook Forklift Chain Inspections

Dec 02 2020 Mast Chains Forklift Maintenance 3 Min. Read

Each forklift uses chains coupled with hydraulic pressure in order to move the forks up and down. As a result, your forklift's chains carry the load of thousands of pounds each day. Since they are so pivotal to the operation of your machine, it is important that you are checking them often for signs of excessive wear or breakage.

Some signs that your forklift’s chains might be in need of being replaced:

  • There are broken links
  • Any rust or corrosion
  • Out of place pins
  • Elongation of the chain
  • Leaks, cracks or any other visible defect including hydraulic hoses and mast chains[1]

OSHA emphasizes that your pre-trip inspection should verify that there aren't any “leaks, cracks or any other visible defect including hydraulic hoses and mast chains”.  Some of the obvious things, like broken links or rust, can be spotted before operation and should be addressed quickly. You should inspect your chains during your pre-trip inspection to make sure there are no obvious signs of wear or breakage, and if there are, do not use the machine until they are fixed.

Use A Chain Gauge

Some of the less obvious things, like out of place pins or an elongation (stretching) of the chain, may need to be surveyed closely on a more regular basis. Adding a reminder to check the condition of your chains is a simple way to prevent bigger issues, such as accidents or larger equipment damage. You will want to do a thorough examination of the machine’s chains on a regular basis to ensure you are not missing things like moving pins or if the chain has stretched too much to be effective for future use.

It is recommended that you use a chain gauge to ensure that you are accurately measuring how much wear your chains have incurred during use. Using a chain gauge is simple: just place the metal gauge over the chain’s links as a guide, and if it is over the allowable tolerances as marked on the gauge, it’s time to replace the chain. This is an easy and effective way to do a visual inspection of your chain’s level of wear.

Chain Tension

The tension of the chain should also be regularly checked to ensure that the machine is safe to operate. When checking the chain’s tension, OSHA also notes that during the inspection “Operators should not place their hands inside the mast. Use a stick or other device to check chain tension”.[2] It may be tempting to pull on the chain with your hands but stay clear of your machine’s mast; putting your hands inside in your machine’s mast may cause serious injury.

Check and replace your forklift’s chains on a regular basis to ensure you are operating a safe and efficient vehicle. If you are in our service area—Lower Michigan and Northern Indiana—you can also contact Morrison Industrial Equipment for free chain inspections.

Set yourself a reminder to call the folks at Morrison and get your chains inspected and/or replaced, because getting your chains replaced regularly is a simple act that will prevent a not-so-simple accident.

[1] https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/pit/operations/servicing.html

[2] https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/pit/operations/servicing.html


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