OSHA requires all new forklifts, both internal combustion (IC) and electric, be inspected by an independent testing laboratory for their ability to avoid causing a fire in the workplace. Toyota Material Handling and several other forklift manufacturers use Underwriters Laboratories (UL) for all testing. Others use Factory Mutual (FM).
Forklift UL Rating Levels
There are 2-4 levels of OSHA ratings for forklifts dependent on the fuel used. The forklift UL rating will be stamped on the data (capacity) tag under the heading of “Truck Type.”
- Gasoline forklifts are rated G or GS
- LPG forklifts are rated LP or LPS
- Diesel forklifts are rated D, DS or DY
- Electric forklifts are rated E, ES, EE or EX
Forklift Fire Hazards
Each increased level of the rating requires changes to the forklift to reduce the possibility of causing a fire. As an example, diesel “D” rated forklifts are standard. A “DS” rated forklift would have some sealed components and electrical connections such as a starter and alternator to reduce the possibility of an electrical arc. A “DY” rated forklift would have no electrical system. Instead it would have an air operated starter, an air tank to power the starter and many other safeguards. “DY” forklifts have brass coated forks and load back rests. They may also feature a squeeze bicycle horn or bell in place of an electric horn.
When modifying or adding accessories to forklifts, there is a possibility the UL rating could be voided. For example, adding a static chain or strap to the forklift’s frame is crucial to prevent static electricity from interfering with the forklift’s computers. On electric forklifts, adding a steel static chain to an “E” or “ES” forklift is acceptable. However, if the forklift is rated “EE” or “EX”, a steel chain is not approved because it may cause an external spark. On “EE” or “EX” rated forklifts a brass chain or rubber static strap would have to be used.
Concerned your current forklift doesn’t have the UL rating needed for your facility? Contact an equipment specialist to discuss options. Or, learn more about OSHA 1910.178 and forklift ratings.Contact Equipment Specialist