May 14, 2024

A Comprehensive Guide to Forklift Attachments

How to choose the right attachments to maximize the efficiency and versatility of your forklift.

Forklift attachments have always been a highly cost-effective way for a forklift to perform a wider variety of tasks above and beyond lifting and shifting pallets.

The greater versatility offered by forklift attachments lets businesses do more with less equipment, improving overall both worker and equipment productivity while conserving business cash and capital.

The types of forklift attachments and what they do

The days of using a forklift just for lifting a long gone. There’s a forklift attachment for almost any task from self-dump hoppers and buckets, wire mesh handlers, heavy-duty spreader bars, work platforms, lift hooks, truss booms, jib booms, load n tows, lift n tows, replacement forks, parts and bars, and more.

What are your forklift attachment choices and what do they do? We’ve broken the most popular forklift attachments by category.

Forklift Hoppers and Buckets

Heavy Duty Self-Dump Hopper

A forklift self-dump hopper is the perfect way to collect, move and dispose of waste around the job site with a forklift such as concrete, plaster, brick and other construction waste.

The key feature of a self-dump hopper (as the name suggests) is the ability to trip the hopper to lift the load upwards and forwards to make it easy to empty the hopper and dispose the waste. Hoppers typically range in load capacity from ½ CUYD up to 5 cuyd.

Heavy Duty Self-Dump Bucket

Attaching a forklift bucket to an extendable-reach forklift can suddenly make it incredibly easy to place materials in hard-to-reach places like elevated positions and behind high walls. You can choose from a manual bucket where the bucket can be tripped by the operator via a manual handle or a hydraulic bucket solution that provides precise control of the discharge.

Heavy Duty Forklift Bucket

A forklift bucket is an easy way to give your forklift all the capabilities of a loader without the extra cost. Most forklift buckets are available in both Quick-Tach and Slip-on-the-fork styles.  The Quick-Tach styles allows connection directly to the end of the boom for a safe and strong connection. The removal of the forks and carriage system saves 700 to 1,000 lbs, enabling the forklift to lift heavier loads.

Forklift Booms, Bars and Handlers

Forklift Jib Boom

Forklift Attachments

A forklift Jib Boom is an extendable telescopic boom that you can attach to a forklift to place heavy loads over or under obstacles. Most forklift job booms are suitable for both straight-mast and extendable-reach type forks.

Quick-Tach Truss Boom

A Quick-Tach Truss Boom enables you to combine the lifting capability of a crane with the speed and manoeuvrability of an extendable reach forklift.

With a vertical reach of up to 15’ and load capacity from 2,000 lbs to 22,000 lbs, the Star QT Truss Boom is ideal for metal building erection, setting wooden trusses, putting up post frame buildings and many more crane type jobs.

Heavy Duty Spreader Bar

A spreader bar allows you to manage long lengths of material like beams and roofing sheets easily with your forklift. It’s perfect for handing rebar, rebar cages, building beams, and steel and wood trusses making it a popular forklift attachment with building erectors.

Wire Mesh Handler

A forklift wire mesh handler takes the hard work and hassle out of loading and moving wire mesh panels around the yard or job site.  A good one will easily handle up to 7,000 lbs capacity,


Safety Work Platform

One key advantage of an extendable reach forklift safety platform is that it can safely take you places where scissor lifts can’t. This makes it perfect for hard-to-reach places such as reaching over obstructions. It is also faster and cheaper than erecting scaffold.

A good forklift safety platform should have an expanded metal deck for a wider work area and a full perimeter guard rail for superior safety.

Safety Loading Platform

A forklift safety loading platform helps you to load and unload heavy, awkward equipment that won’t fit over your forks safely and easily.  The platform makes it easy to move things round, cutting labor costs, preventing back injuries and reducing damage to equipment.

Things to consider before buying a forklift attachment.

Is the forklift attachment engineered to standard?

Manufacturers of forklift attachments must ensure they meet the applicable guidelines as defined in American National Standards Institute B56.1-1969 and that operator use is without risk to health and safety as is reasonably practical when used in accordance with the supplied guidelines.

This duty includes conducting analysis, testing or an examination and providing specific information about the attachment.  

If you ignore the uses, load and capacity ratings of your equipment and attachments, or circumvent ANSI and OSHA safety standards by using home-made, non-certified machinery attachments, you’re endangering your equipment, contracts, workers and your entire job site.

Is the forklift attachment plated and includes operator safety instructions?

The forklift attachment needs to be plated to manufacturer specifications including capacity and safe operation. Operator safety instructions need to be visible and easily accessible via the manual holder.

Is the attachment built for safety and to last?

Ensure the forklift attachment has safety and longevity in mind. The attachment should come standard with safety features such as retaining pins behind the heel of each fork that can be secured with hairpins or cotter pins; safety chains that can be wrapped around the fork carriage; pull spring-loaded pins and internal stops to ensure the extendable items such as telescopic boom sections cannot be accidently pulled all the way out.  Check with the dealer or manufacturer that all items supplied swivel hooks, bolted shackles, chains, pin plates etc are properly rated for use with forklift attachment.

How the attachment is manufactured is another important consideration For example, if it’s a bucket, ask the attachment seller if it’s manufactured with a heavy-duty steel shell with continuous welded seams inside or out that add greater strength and attachment life.

Does it fit your brand of forklift and specifications?

Make sure the attachment has been tested and rated for your forklift brand, model and attachment method.  The attachment should not exceed the capabilities of your machine as it may lead to operator injury or damage to the forklift.

What warranty and support are on offer?

Check with the seller the manufacturer warranty and support. If it’s not five-years, why not? What support does the dealer or manufacturer offer post sale? Are they located in the USA? Can you speak to a real person if you have a question or a problem? Do they carry spare parts for your attachment?

Get more out of your forklift with Star Industries’ selection of heavy-duty forklift attachments and accessories for the warehousing, construction and fleet rental industries.