How to read forklift load capacity chart

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This article discusses how to read the forklift capacity chart. You will learn what a forklift data tag is, what the important capacity parameters are, and how they influence a forklift's load capacity.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Forklift data tag
  3. Understanding load parameters
  4. How to read forklift load capacity chart
  5. Our recommendation
  6. Takeaways


As a forklift operator, knowing your forklift’s capability is critical. A forklift’s capacity is not simply the weight it can lift. In fact, a forklift’s weight capacity is not even constant. There are several parameters that you have to consider before loading a forklift. These parameters are written in the load capacity chart. If any of the parameters are exceeded, it can cause accidents like overturning, falling load, and pedestrian collision. In the following actions, we will learn about how to understand the parameters in a load capacity chart. Knowing the load capacity chart will help you to avoid those accidents.

An image of an overturned forklift

Figure: Not knowing or maintaining forklift load capacity can lead to forklift overturn

Forklift data tag

To understand forklift load capacity, you must understand the forklift data tag. A forklift data tag or data plate is a metal plate or sticker that contains important information about the forklift, including the load capacity chart. Usually, you will find it in a very accessible place, such as near the instrument panel, on the side of the forklift, or the back.

Data tags are OSHA requirements and must be visible on all working forklifts. It should contain information tested by an approved testing laboratory. If you want to make modifications that change the parameters on the tag, you will need written approval from the manufacturer.

An image of a forklift data tag

Figure: A forklift data plate contains important information about that forklift

Usually, a forklift data plate contains the below information:

  • Make
  • Model
  • Serial No
  • Mast Type
  • Back Tilt
  • Fuel Type
  • Default Attachments
  • Front Tread
  • Tire Sizes
  • Truck Weight
  • Rated capacity

Usually, all the parameters are mentioned in metric and imperial (British) units. Your forklift's rated capacity parameters are given in a table within this data tag.

Understanding load parameters

In the load capacity chart, there are three parameters:

  • Load Capacity
  • Lift Height
  • Load Center

Load Capacity: Load Capacity is simply the weight your forklift can lift. However, it does not stay the same. Depending on the other two parameters, load capacity changes.

Lift Height: Lift Height is the height up to which your forklift can lift the rated weight. With increasing height, the forklift becomes more unstable.

Load Center: The Load Center is the measurement of the balancing point of the load. Load Center can be horizontal, vertical, or lateral. The Horizontal Load Center is the distance between the load center and the fork surface. Similarly, Vertical Load Center is the distance between the load center and the load backrest. The Lateral Load Center is the distance between the fork and load centers. When the load center increases, the balancing point moves far from the fork surface or the load backrest, making it less stable.

An illustration of a forklift load centers

Figure: Vertical and Horizontal Load Center

How to read forklift load capacity chart

Let’s consider this forklift data plate:

An image of a load capacity chart of a Toyota forklift

Figure: Load capacity chart of a Toyota forklift

The load capacity chart is in the table, marked red. There are four parameters marked by A, B, C, and Capacity. The illustrated figure beside the table defines A, B, and C. A is the lift height, B is the horizontal or vertical load center, and C is the lateral load center.

The load capacity chart shows values in both metric and British units, and you can choose any one of them. According to the chart, this particular Toyota forklift can lift 10000 lbs at a maximum lift height of 147.5 inches when the load center is 24 inches. However, if you want to carry a bigger object with a load center of 30 inches, the maximum weight capacity decreases to 8850 lbs.

Please note that the lateral load center always needs to be zero. In other words, a load should be properly balanced across the forks. An unbalanced load may cause the forklift to tip over to the left or right.

The load capacity chart may vary across different makes, models, and types of forklifts.

For example, the above data tag is from a normal forklift with no provision for side shifting. An order-picker forklift will have a slightly different load capacity chart with data for side shifting allowance. In the following video, a different load capacity chart is explained in detail:

Our recommendation

For a forklift operator, knowing the load capacity chart is absolutely important. However, even after being careful, accidents do happen sometimes. We recommend equipping your forklift with proper safety attachments if an accident happens. In most cases of load imbalance, the forklift will overturn. In a rollover, a seatbelt can prevent the operator from being crushed under the forklift. Also, an external camera in the fork will help balance the weight during loading, which will avoid accidents.

Please visit Lift Parts Warehouse and browse through our wide collection of forklift parts. Most of our parts come with 1-year limited warranty and 100% guaranteed fit. We provide same-day shipping from our 21 warehouses across the US.


  • OSHA regulations require all forklifts to have Data Tags
  • Data tags contain important information regarding the forklift, including forklift load capacity charts
  • This chart contains permissible load under different load heights, load centers, and side shifts.
  • As the load height, load center, and side shift increase, maximum load capacity decreases.