Eureka Forklifts


The four main reasons forklifts tip over

Understanding how forklifts work and their basic design will help dramatically with operator safety and competence. Understanding how a forklift's counterbalance works, its load capacity and safe practices when it comes to loading and unloading a forklift will ensure your workplace is accident-free and won’t have any forklifts on their side or tipped over forwards anytime soon. 

Forklift tip-overs can range anywhere from a marginally inconvenient event to a shutdown operations disaster with loss of life and everything in between. Tipping over a forklift is likely to have considerable consequences on your vehicle as well as stock damage to the load it’s carrying. Depending on how bad the tip-over is, fatal accidents can and do occur, which is obviously something every business owner wants to avoid as stock can be replaced, but a life cannot. 

Four major reasons forklifts tip over in the workplace


  1.  Working with suspended loads (also called live loads)

Working with bulk bags or loads that hang from an attachment adds an additional layer of complexity to manoeuvring and working a forklift safely. If possible, loads that are secured on a pallet are always a safer option as they will help retain the forklift's centre of gravity. 

Standard pallet loads are more likely to remain stationary during transit or if the forklift is moved in a sharp turn or has to stop abruptly where a live load or bulk bag is far more susceptible to move, which changes the centre of gravity of the forklift and can cause tip-overs more frequently. 

Remember, if you have to work with suspended loads:-

  • Reduce your speed considerably, this will help to reduce momentum created by the load
  • Try driving in reverse. Driving in reverse will typically make you drive slower with a great awareness of your surroundings. 
  • Reduce the distance needed to travel. If you must suspend a load on your forklift, is there another vehicle or way to move the load close to the final destination so you can minimise the use of the forklift?
  • Place the load on a pallet instead of suspending it (if possible)


  1. Turning sharply with a heavy or elevated load

Elevating a load on a forklift is a common contributor to side-facing tip-overs as elevating a load reduces the overall stability of the forklift. The higher a load is lifted, the more unstable the load will become so it’s little wonder that elevated loads and sharp turns are one of the most common contributing factors to side tip-overs. 

Turning sharply with an elevated load will cause a great load balance to be placed on one side of the vehicle potentially causing it to tip over. Many operators will argue there is a time-saving aspect of turning with an elevated load, but it only takes one serious or fatal accident to undo all that time saved by completing a potentially dangerous procedure. 

Remember, if you have to work with an elevated load:-

  • Try to complete one operation at a time
  • Lower the load if you are required to turn (if possible)
  • Ensure your forklift operators realise that potential minor time-saving operations can increase the chance of accidents and aren’t usually worth it in the long run. 


  1. Driving across uneven or unstable ground

Whilst that back dock might look like only a slight angle or that gravel looks pretty even, it only takes a minor mishap on the uneven or unstable ground to get a forklift over on its side. Many inexperienced operators can easily forget there are only two ways you can drive on a slope in a forklift, straight up or straight down. As soon as you traverse an incline across or on the diagonal, it’s a recipe for disaster (particularly if you double this with an elevated load!).

Remember, if you’re operating a forklift around inclines:-

  • Only drive straight up or straight down, never across or on a diagonal
  • Drive to the conditions - if your lift truck or forklift isn’t designed for rough terrain, don’t drive on it
  • Check your surroundings - make sure there are no potholes, curbs, hoses, debris, etc in your path
  • If you have a load, forks should face the incline – if you’re unloaded, forks should face downhill


  1. Overloading and unsecured loads

Always check the load capacity of your vehicle and make sure it is never overloaded. Having an unsecured load shift suddenly is a sure-fire way to get your forklift on its side and possibly damage your vehicle, the stock and any operators or workers unlucky enough to be in its path. 



  • Always secure loads with tie-down straps, shrink wrap or banding before loading it onto a forklift
  • Make sure weight is evenly distributed in the load
  • Don’t ever exceed the capacity of the truck and ensure operators know the difference between load only weight and load plus pallet and packaging weight. 

If you follow these handy hints and tips, there’s no reason you should ever find one of your forklifts on its side or being tipped forward. 


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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