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Sam Myers

Do you need a crane, but don’t have the space and budget for one?  

You’re not alone. In multiple industries, including steel mills, constructions sites, or warehouses, there’s certain loads where an overhead or mobile crane would be helpful, but it simply can’t fit in an organization’s facility or budget.  

Thankfully, there are many options out on the market for you. One of the more popular options is a forklift boom. Forklifts booms (also called fork booms and forklift jib booms) are a unique and helpful device, but there are positives and negatives to consider before purchasing one. 

To see if forklifts booms are a good fit for your operations, our article will examine: 

What Is a Forklift Boom? 


A forklift boom, in simplest terms, is an extension that goes onto your forklift’s mast and allows it to work like a mobile crane, helping to lift and move suspended loads.  

Forklift booms are incredibly diverse, ranging in size, lifting capacity, shape, incline, and more. Most manufacturers will carry multiple models, including: 

  • Fixed-length 
  • Telescopic pivoting 
  • Motorized 
  • Carriage jibs 
  • Reach over  

Most forklift booms will range in reach from six feet to 15 feet. It’s important to keep in mind that the longer your forklift boom is, your lifting capacity will decrease. For example, if your forklift boom is six feet in length, it will have a 6,000-pound lifting capacity. However, a 12-foot long forklift boom’s capacity will only be 2,500 pounds. 

Before using a forklift boom, you will want to understand the weight of the designated load, the size of the load, and the maximum capacity at selected hook positions. You will also want to make sure you properly inspect the load – ensuring nothing can fall from the load.  

How Much Do Forklift Booms Cost? 


One of the biggest selling points for a forklift boom is their affordable pricing compared to  overhead and mobile cranes. The price of a forklift boom can vary depending on many factors, including the length of the forklift boom and its style.  

For example, if the forklift boom is motorized, that can increase the price by a few thousand dollars. Most manufacturers will offer multiple options, including  

  • Rigid or telescopic 
  • Fixed or pivoting 
  • Motorized or manual 

Depending on the modifications, forklift booms can range anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000.  


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Where are Forklift Booms Used? 


Forklift booms are typically found in smaller manufacturing facilities, steel mills, and warehouses where overhead cranes can’t fit. Forklifts are commonplace in these fast-paced and hectic environments—allowing facilities to quickly, safely, and efficiently move heavy materials. 

But, sometimes, you may need to lift pipes, steel beams, engines and motors, oil barrels, and other heavy materials, and this is where forklifts booms come in.  

They’re used a lot in one-time operations (where something out of the ordinary happens, like moving a pile of steel beams needing to clear out space) rather than a part of a production line’s daily operations. 

You can also find forklift booms at outdoor construction sites, where they’re attached to rough terrain forklifts.  

What are the Positives of Using a Forklift Boom? 


1. Budget Friendly 

If you have a tight budget and don’t have the resources to invest in a crane, a forklift boom is a great alternative. While some overhead crane systems can cost as much as $100,000, the most expensive forklift booms on the market won’t cost more than $20,000. 

2. Improves Employee Safety 

There’s a high potential for workers to have bodily injuries while carrying heavy objects, including tissue damage, broken hands, fingers, and feet, and joint issues.  

If you’re working in a steel mill, and you need to change the motor on a piece of equipment, you can attach a forklift boom to your forklift, reach in, and lift the motor out of the machine to be replaced. This is much easier and safer than a worker climbing over and manually removing it.  

3. Diverse Design Options 

While forklift booms aren’t usually customizable, there are a variety of design options that can make them useful in many applications.  

For example, a telescopic forklift boom with alternate hook positions, boom locking pins, and a restraining chain with grab hooks is great for lifting steel beams. 

On the other hand, a reach over style forklift boom with multiple hook positions is great for lifting bulkier loads, like barrels, baskets, and pallets.  

What are the Negatives of Using a Forklift Boom?  


While forklift booms have many positive attributes, there are negatives to look out for, including:  

1. Lack of Mobility  

Weaving around the alleys in warehouses is one of the strengths of a forklift. But when you attach a forklift boom to it, your mobility will significantly decrease.  

 2. Low Lifting Capacity 

While forklift booms are an affordable device, they have a limited lifting capacity (with the max being roughly 4-tons), not making them ideal for heavy lifting applications.  

If you’re planning on working with heavier lifting applications, you would be better off investing in an overhead crane system.  

3. Increased Safety Risk  

A commonly held belief is that you can attach a forklift boom to any forklift at your job site. This is not only false, but it’s incredibly dangerous. If not properly measured, attaching a forklift boom increases the chance of forklift being lopsided and tipping over, causing serious injuries and thousands of dollars in equipment damage.  

It’s important for anyone purchasing a forklift boom (or any front-end attachment) to take extra caution. As best practice, reach out to your forklift manufacturer.  

What Industry Standards Affect Forklift Booms?


 

OSHA categorizes all forklifts as industrial trucks, and the main regulation for forklift attachments is OSHA 1910.178, which states that 

“If the truck is equipped with front-end attachments other than factory installed attachments, the user shall request that the truck be marked to identify the attachments and show the approximate weight of the truck and attachment combination at maximum elevation with load laterally centered.” 

Also, ANSI / ITSDF B56.10-2006 states:

“No modification or alterations to a powered industrial truck that may affect the capacity, stability or safe operation of the truck, shall be made without the prior written approval of the original truck manufacturer or its successor thereof. When the truck manufacturer or its successor approves a modification or alteration, appropriate changes shall be made to capacity plates, decals, tags, and operations, and maintenance manuals.”

Should You Invest In a Forklift Boom?   


From their many design options to low costs, it’s easy to see why forklift booms are a great option for people working with confined spaces and tight budgets. Then again, it’s also important to understand that their limited capacity and mobility doesn’t make them ideal for all applications. 

If you’re debating between purchasing an overhead crane or a forklift, check out our article covering the advantages and disadvantages of each. If you would like to talk to an expert, reach out to one of our below-the-hook specialists.  


Contact a Mazzella specialist today to learn more, order products, or schedule services.

Copyright 2024. Mazzella Companies.


Disclaimer: Any advice, graphics, images, and/or information contained herein are presented for general educational and information purposes and to increase overall safety awareness. It is not intended to be legal, medical, or other expert advice or services, and should not be used in place of consultation with appropriate industry professionals. The information herein should not be considered exhaustive and the user should seek the advice of appropriate professionals.