Forklifts allow operators to lift and lower boxes or pallets using two heavy metal prongs, or tines, mounted the front of each unit. Users can also expand the capabilities of these machines using special attachments, or add-ons. One such attachment is the forklift platform, which allows the forklift to safely lift people, rather than just boxes. A forklift platform combines the operation of a forklift and a separate man lift into a single machine, and may also be known as a manbasket within industrial and manufacturing settings.
A standard forklift platform consists of a metal cage, with a steel base that slips directly over the tines at the front of the device. Special hooks and chains hold the unit securely in place and prevent it from detaching from the forklift during operation. A series of bars and rails surround the work platform to protect workers from falls, though most states also require these workers to use a separate fall protection system or harness to further reduce the risk of injury. Most require an operator to remain in the cab of the forklift, while another employee works on the forklift platform. Some may also include limited control buttons on the platform itself, so users can raise and lower the platform while riding.
Forklift platforms can be found in warehouses and distribution centers, as well as manufacturing facilities. They are also used in other settings to allow workers to repair and maintain objects located high overhead, or to simply replace lightbulbs in a school or plant. Construction crews also use these machines to install ceilings, piping, ductwork, and electrical equipment. Some forklift platform models feature just a small platform, which allows much of the length of the tines to extend normally. This means that a single worker can ride on the platform and locate materials or products visually, then use the tines to lower then to the floor.
The primary advantage associated with the forklift platform is that it combines multiple functions into a single piece of equipment. This increases flexibility and versatility, and makes it easier for workers to get jobs done with less effort. It also helps to save space, as there is no need to store two separate units. Finally, forklift platforms can save money because they eliminate the expense of buying and maintaining a separate manlift and forklift.
One potential drawback to these units is that they have limited range, and cannot provide workers with the same access as a traditional manlift. All forklift attachments also pose significant risk for workers, as these attachments change the balance and weight distribution of the machine. Employees can reduce risk by only using a forklift platform that's designed to work with the company's forklift, and by following all safety and operating instructions.