Types of Forklift Truck

There are many different types of forklift trucks and although we haven’t listed them all you will find a list below of the more popular types. To operate a forklift safely you will need to undergo training and certification for each different type you use as certification is not transferable and doesn’t mean you can simply switch from one type to another.

Here are the more common types of forklift trucks with a brief description:

Counterbalance Forklift

This is widely used in various environments including warehouses and storage depots with a reach of up to 20 feet and has a counterweight to balance the load on the fork arms. The fork arms and load project out from the front of the machine. Loads can be raised or lowered vertically and the mast may be tilted forwards or backwards up to 15° (but in practice more usually about 5°). A wide range of attachments are also available.


Reach Truck

These trucks are used predominantly in warehouses and where space is restricted. They are called reach trucks because the mast is moved forwards or reached out to pick up the load. For travelling, the load is reached back and carried within the wheelbase which allows greater manoeuvrability. A height of 40 feet can be reached from this type of forklift.


Rough Terrain

This is similar in design to the industrial counterbalanced lift truck but is equipped with larger wheels and pneumatic tyres, giving it greater ground clearance and stability so it operates well in rough terrain and uneven and soft ground. It’s used in the construction industry and in agriculture and may be used with a range of attachments.


Telescopic Forklift

They are used mainly in agriculture and the construction industry and although still a forklift they can also have a variety of different attachments including bucket, pallet forks, muck grab, or lift table. This is fitted with a boom that is pivoted at the rear of the machine which is raised and lowered by hydraulic rams. In addition, the boom can be extended or retracted (telescoped) to give extra reach or height. These machines may be two or four-wheel drive, and have two-wheel, four-wheel or crab steering.


Side-Loader Forklift

The operator is positioned at the front and to one side of the lift truck with the load carried on the deck and the mast being traversed out sideways to pick up or set down the load. This type of lift truck is used for stacking and moving long loads such as bales of timber and pipes, and may be fitted with stabilisers for use when picking up or setting down loads.


Pedestrian-controlled Lift Truck

This has a limited lift height, usually not greater than two metres. It may be electrically or manually powered for lifting and for traction. The operator walks with the machine and controls it with a handle. These are usually used in warehouse environments shifting stock on pallets.


If you already have your certification and been trained on one type of truck recently and need to start using a different type of forklift then you will need to undergo a conversion training course.