The Importance of Accurate Capacity Labels on Warehouse Equipment

Labels serve many useful purposes in distribution centers, warehouses, and other storage facilities. There are different types of labels, depending on where they are used, such as:

  • Aisle Labels – These indicate what items or part/product numbers are located in different locations in the warehouse.
  • Shelving Labels – Each location on the shelf could have its own label that provides information about what goes in this location, such as the name of the product or the part/product number.
  • Rack Labels – Rack labels are also used to identify the products stored in each location.
  • Crate Labels – Some warehouses use wire mesh or wooden crates that have larger items contained inside. Crate labels typically provide details about what is inside the crate.
  • Pallet Labels – Similar to crate labels, pallet labels provide details about the items or materials stacked on the pallet, such as their part number or product number.
  • Equipment Labels – Any equipment used in warehousing environments needs its own special equipment labels, which could range from a brand logo label to safe operating instructions.
  • Capacity Labels – A capacity label is a special label found on forklifts, pallet jacks, handcarts, and other types of equipment used to lift, move, store, and transport goods in and around the warehouse.
  • Bar Code Labels – Thanks to modern technologies, bar code labels are becoming used more widely for tracking the placement and location of goods and items throughout the warehouse. They can also be used on equipment and tied to the equipment’s maintenance and service records.
  • Hazardous Materials Labels – If there are any hazardous, flammable, or dangerous materials in the warehouse, they must be labeled correctly so people will be aware of the potential risks when handling, moving, or working around these materials.

As you can see, there is a wide array of labels used in the warehousing industry. While all of these are essential to day-to-day operations, we want to take a closer look at capacity labels in greater detail because these labels are required by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) as part of the general requirements for equipment labeling, as well as materials handling and storage.

What Types of Equipment Are Capacity Labels Used On?

There are specific pieces of equipment that need to have easy-to-read capacity labels. As already mentioned, forklifts, pallet jacks, and handcarts are three such pieces of equipment that need capacity labels. In addition to these items, all forklift parts attachments and extensions, shelving, racks, pallets, and crates should have capacity labels, too.

The reason you need capacity labels on storage equipment is that there is a limit to the amount of weight a shelf, rack, pallet, or crate can safely hold. Furthermore, it is not uncommon to stack crates or pallets on top of each other, so knowing the maximum capacities is essential to avoid accidents.

What Information Is Found on Capacity Labels?

On forklift trucks, the capacity label is what the manufacturer recommends as the maximum weight the lift can handle. The label typically contains the type of lift truck, its serial number, the weight of the truck, and other such details. You will also find different maximum weight ratings for different types of attachments, along with the recommended load centers and maximum height ratings.

This label should be used as a guideline as the maximum lifting capacity can change based on several factors:

  • Adding/Changing Attachments
  • Forklift Wear
  • Increasing the Height of the Lift
  • Extending the Length of the Lift

Each of these factors can cause a decrease in the maximum lifting capacity, regardless of what is listed on the label. The most common cause for this change in capacity is due to the center of gravity of the lift truck changing, so the balance point is not the same. As a result, not only is lifting capacity affected but, also, the risks of the lift truck flipping over.

Anytime you add/change lift truck parts or attachments, or extend the height or length of the lift, it is important to recalculate the center of gravity and determine the maximum capacities. Some manufacturers do provide this information with the different attachments or extensions, so long as they are properly installed.

Additionally, normal wear and tear to the lift forks cause the maximum capacity rating to decrease steadily. As the forks wear, the maximum load ratings decline. A commonly accepted wear and tear rating used by forklift manufacturers is for every 10% of wear, there is a 20% decrease in maximum lifting capacities.

For instance, if your forklift is rated with a maximum lifting capacity of 3,000 pounds, but the forks have worn 20%, the most the truck could safely transport would be 1,800 pounds. Due to this factor, it is essential to perform regular inspections and maintenance on lift trucks to ensure their capacity ratings remain accurate.

For other types of equipment, the capacity labels may only state the maximum load/weight ratings for the equipment, along with how to place the load onto the equipment for transport or storage. With handcart lifts and pallet jacks, just like forklift trucks, the maximum capacities will decrease with fork wear.

Why Are Capacity Labels Important?

Verifying the information on capacity labels is correct is important to ensure proper workplace safety. If the information is inaccurate, it can lead to an increase in avoidable accidents, employee injuries, damage to equipment and materials, and the likelihood of equipment tipping or falling over.

Aside from maintaining safety, OSHA regulations require warehouses to ensure their capacity labels contain accurate, up-to-date information. If it is discovered the label contains out-of-date information or is missing from the equipment, there are costly fines and penalties for each violation. Serious violations can cost tens of thousands of dollars, while willful violations can run several hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Furthermore, without accurate capacity labels, you are increasing the potential for personal injury and other forms of lawsuits from workplace accidents, damages to materials and goods, and employee injuries.

Benefits of Using Capacity Labels

While there are negative effects of not using or not verifying the information on capacity labels is accurate, there are positive benefits gained when the information is current and correct:

  • Increases Workplace Productivity
  • Makes It Easier for Employees to Select the Right Equipment
  • Allows for Better Utilization of Attachments/Extensions
  • Improves the Overall Lifespan of Equipment
  • Creates a Safe Working Environment for Employees
  • Prevents Undesired Down Times

Each of your employees, who operates, maintains, or uses forklifts does need to be trained on how to read forklift capacity charts and labels, not only for their own safety but the safety of your other employees if you want to get the most benefits.

worker showing another worker how to use a forklift

What to Do if Capacity Labels Are Not Current

The first and most important thing to do is to stop using the forklift truck or any other piece of equipment with the out-of-date label. You do not want to use the equipment again until you have updated the label to reflect current capacities.

In cases where the label is not accurate due to wear and tear or maintenance not being performed at regular intervals, you will want to bring all maintenance on the equipment to a current status and replace any worn attachments/extensions and other lift truck parts and components. Next, you will want to have the equipment’s capacity re-rated to reflect current maximum weights and obtain a new label to place onto the forklift.

For shelving, racks, and other types of storage equipment, perform any required maintenance and/or repairs. Then have the maximum capacity rating updated and apply new labels to the equipment. Last, take the time to develop a preventative maintenance program and implement it to ensure capacity ratings on equipment are kept current.

forklift hauling brown box

If the forklift or other equipment is past its usable life, it should be replaced as soon as possible. There are several different equipment options, from new forklifts and refurbished certified used forklifts to warehousing shelving and racks, available from forklift distributors.

For assistance with establishing an effective maintenance program, fleet management, or new and used forklifts and other warehousing equipment for transporting and storage, please feel free to contact Atlas Toyota Material Handling at 877-438-2719 today!