What Is a High Reach Forklift?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2019
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A high reach forklift is commonly known as a telehandler forklift; it features a telescoping boom arm that allows loads to be lifted to greater heights than conventional forklifts, though high reach forklift models do come with their own limitations. Telehandler lifts usually feature pneumatic tires for better maneuverability and stability over uneven terrain, making them great choices for outdoor applications. They are commonly used in agricultural settings as well as industrial and construction settings due to their maneuverability and advanced lifting capabilities. They do tend to be much larger than other forklifts, making them unwieldy in certain tight spaces.

The telescoping boom of a high reach forklift reaches forward and up, which allows goods to be lifted to rooftops or other high places. This can cause instability: the higher and farther away from the truck base the load is lifted, the less stable the truck is likely to be. Many high reach forklift models feature outriggers for added stability, though this only provides a certain amount of additional stability. Drivers of these lifts are often equipped with charts that will help them determine whether a load can be lifted safely to a certain height, and many telehandlers are equipped with sensors that will shut down the function of the lift if the load cannot be safely lifted any further.


The vast majority of high reach forklift models are diesel powered, since the machines are likely to need higher torque outputs. Diesel engines can produce a fair amount of exhaust, so high reach forklift models are not exceptionally suitable for use indoors, especially in smaller, poorly ventilated spaces. Diesel engines also tend to be quite loud, so noise considerations must be made both indoors and outdoors while the machine is in use.

A driver of a high lift forklift must undergo specific training in order to operate the machine safely. Emergency procedures as well as normal functioning procedures must be taught, and the training can go on for several months or weeks. The driver must learn to calculate how heavy of a load can be lifted and to what height, as well as how to position the telehandler properly for lifting. Setting the outriggers, driving the unit on uneven terrain, lifting pallets, transporting pallets, and performing other normal functions will often be taught during training sessions.


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