Types of Forklifts & Its Classification

Types of Forklifts & Its Classification

Selecting the Right Equipment for the Job

With so many different types of forklifts, workplace efficiency and productivity depend on selecting the right equipment as per needs.

  • Warehouse operators today face the challenge of choosing between a wide variety of forklift types, each with distinct applications, features, and benefits:


  • Electric forklifts
  • Internal combustion forklifts
  • Order pickers
  • Reach trucks
  • Aerial lifts
  • Personnel lifts
  • Scissor lifts
  • Pallet jacks
  • Rider pallet trucks
  • Cushion tire forklifts
  • Pneumatic tire forklifts
  • Narrow aisle forklifts
  • High-capacity forklifts
  • Rough terrain forklifts
  • Container handlers
  • Sideloader

The specific characteristics — including the key features and benefits — of seven different types of forklifts, specifically the forklift classifications labeled Classes I-VII by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Types of Forklifts (Forklift Classifications I-VII)

CLASSDescriptionIdeal UsesBenefits
CLASS IElectric Motor Rider TrucksLoading/unloading tractor-trailer; handling palletsElectric means no emissions, minimal noise
CLASS IIElectric Motor Narrow Aisle TrucksOperating in tight spaces, handling pallets, picking/storing inventoryCan be used to gain more storage space in the same warehouse footprint
CLASS IIIElectric Motor Hand Trucks or Hand/Rider TrucksUnloading deliveries from tractor-trailers; short runs in smallerRider and walk-behind (“walkie”) options
CLASS IVInternal Combustion Engine Trucks (Solid/Cushion Tires)Moving pallets from the loading dock to the storage, vice versaCushion tires great for low-clearance situations
CLASS VInternal Combustion Engine Trucks (Pneumatic Tires)Versatile; trucks in this class can handle single pallets to loaded 40-foot containersMostly for outdoor use, but also indoors in large warehouses
CLASS VIElectric and Internal Combustion Engine TractorsCommonly used for hauling of pulling loads rather than lifting; versatileExample: airport “tugger” towing luggage carts
CLASS VIIRough Terrain Forklift TrucksGreat for lumberyards/construction sites where crews need to lift building materials to high elevationsSome are equipped with a telescoping mast to provide far greater reach


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