Eureka Forklifts


What to do if your forklift tips over

If you’ve spent any time around forklifts, you know what a marvellous piece of machinery they can be that not only saves time, increases productivity but can be the lifeblood of many businesses. That being said they can also be a dangerous piece of kit that can cause serious harm and even death in the wrong situations. 

Whilst there are many different situations a forklift can be a safety hazard, the tip over is responsible for more deaths than any other type of accident. According to Worksafe QLD, on average each year 281 workers compensation claims are accepted for crush injuries involving forklifts (source) so if you or your workers want to avoid accidents, lost work and claims it’s best to know what to do when a forklift tips over to protect the business, the load you’re carrying and most importantly, yourself and those around you. 

What causes a forklift to tip over?

There’s a range of different reasons forklifts will tip over and pretty much all of them are avoidable. The most important factor when it comes to operating a forklift is to understand forklift stability and how it’s achieved. 

For more information about this, take a look at our blog posts Why You Need To Be Paying Attention To The Load Centre Of Your Forklift and Counterbalance Forklifts and How They Work. Once you’ve read these articles, they should give you a good understanding of what forklift stability is, why it’s important and how to achieve it. 

Overloading your forklift is a surefire way to cause a potential tip over. Make sure you check the capacity plates on any forklift you’re working on and make sure you only handle loads within the capacity of the forklift you’re operating. 

An empty forklift will tip more easily than a lowered, loaded forklift
If your forklift is empty, it’s more likely to tip on uneven surfaces than a loaded forklift that’s loaded and in the lowered position. Keep this in mind when driving over bumpy, uneven or soft surfaces. 

Watch out for tail-swing
When working near ramps, docks, platforms or any surface where there’s an edge, make sure a safe distance is always maintained from the edge of the road surface you’re driving on. It’s all too easy to swing that tail around without looking and drop it off over an edge. 

Raised masts reduce stability
If your load is raised, this will change the centre of gravity for your forklift and therefore change the stability. A forklift with a raised mast will tip much easier than one that’s lowered. 

Soft ground isn’t your friend
Sandy, loose or wet, boggy ground isn’t your friend when it comes to hauling loads with a forklift. It’s hard enough getting a bogged forklift out, let alone a bogged AND tipped forklift. 

Cornering at speed
Like any vehicle really, if you take the corners too fast you’re going to come a cropper but more so with a forklift, and more so with a forklift that has a raised mast, so slow down around those corners Craig Lowndes, it’s not a racetrack. 

Don’t tilt elevated loads forward
This is a rookie mistake but can still happen to the best of us. The only time an elevated load should be tipped forward is when it’s in a deposit position or over a rack. 

Slopes aren’t your friend
Turning on grades, ramps or inclines is a surefire way to make your vehicle unstable. Avoid driving across slopes at all costs if possible. 

Off-centre loading isn’t your friend either
Want to know what’s worse than an off-centre load? An off-centre load with a high centre of gravity. That’s a tip-over waiting to happen. 

What to do if your forklift starts tipping

It’s imperative you remember these 4 simple steps if your forklift starts to tip over. 

  1. Grab the steering wheel as firmly as possible
  2. Brace your feet into the floor
  3. Lean away from the direction of impact (this sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s very important)
  4. Lean forward

Whatever you do, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO JUMP OUT OF THE VEHICLE. Often with a forklift tip-over, operators are seriously injured or killed because they attempt to jump out of the vehicle. 

The video below outlines a workplace accident that involved a tip-over and killed the operator. The saddest part of this story is that it was totally preventable by using the correct safety measures. 


86 Delta St, Geebung QLD 4034
PO Box 90 Geebung, Queensland, 4034



Eureka Forklifts has almost 30 years experience dealing with forklifts in the SE Qld region.

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