Logistics & Materials Handling Blog

Can a Forklift be used for Towing?

by Paul Hinz
Filed under: Safety
Filed under: Forklifts

What is the Australian Forklift and Industrial Truck Association (AFITA)?

The Australian Forklift and Industrial Truck Association (AFITA) is the leading industry body representing suppliers of forklifts and associated equipment, the association major focus is ensuring the highest possible standards of performance, safety and client satisfaction within the industry.

The AFITA plays an active role in the development and on-going revision of Australian and international standards for the forklift industry and in promoting the highest standards of safe equipment use by producing guidance documents and conducting national forklift safety seminars.

Can a Forklift be used for Towing?

According to AFITA’s 2010 guidance paper on ‘Towing & Forklift Trucks’, forklifts should only be used for towing trailers and other towable pieces of equipment if it is designed to for towing and is rated accordingly on its serial/data plate.

Additionally Australian Standards AS2359 part 2 “Operation”, 3.2 (General Rules), clause (s) states:

“Do not use an industrial truck for any purpose for which it is not designed or equipped, such as pushing a load or any other object.”

Relevant clause in standard EN1726-1, 5.9.5 Towing Devices (new ISO3691.1 has clause similar 5.12 Devices for towing)

“Trucks used for towing trailers shall be fitted with towing or coupling devices designed, constructed and arranged to ensure easy and safe connection and disconnection and to prevent accidental disconnection during use.”

Also as per EN1726-1 clause the serial data plate needs to specify supporting force of tow hook and draw pull in N (Newtons) requirements.

In line with AFITA guidelines Adaptalift Group does not recommend any of our customers attempt to use their forklifts to tow any equipment due to the safety risks unless the OEM specifies it is safe to do so.

Why Can’t a Forklift Tow Equipment?

Unless specifically stated by the original equipment manufacturer that the unit is safe and able to tow equipment, forklifts are only designed to lift heavy materials via its tynes.

Forklifts generally don’t possess the weight distribution and braking capacity needed to tow equipment safely.

The majority of forklifts are rear wheel drive and their front wheels are only used for braking.

This configuration of steering and braking doesn’t provide the operator with the level of control needed to tow a vehicle safely, there is an increased risk of the forklift losing control and tipping over.

A forklifts tynes are not designed to drag or tow heavy weights.

Towing a vehicle or equipment may result in them becoming damaged or uneven, reducing the stability of the towing unit and could result in it tipping over.

Adaptalift Group Forklift Tow Ball Hitch Attachment 2

Why is My Forklift Equipped with a Tow Coupling, Pin or Hitch if it can’t tow?

Counterbalanced forklifts may be equipped with a tow coupling, pin or hitch under the counterweight.

This tow point is provided so the forklift can be safely towed (e.g. winched onto a transport truck) not for towing.

Forklift Push Attachments

Fitting a forklift with a specialist slip-on hitch attachment that attaches to the tynes and uses either a tow ball or pin can be used to safely push equipment such as trailers short distances around workshops or other work areas.

We always recommend workers complete a comprehensive risk assessment looking at things such if the attachment has been installed correctly and the load is safe to push before they begin moving any equipment with the forklift.

Adaptalift Group Forklift Tow Ball Hitch Attachment

Adaptalift Group can supply high quality slip-on push forklift attachments, allowing customers to safely use their forklifts to push equipment short distances.

As the official Australian Hyster, Yale and Combilift dealer we are the only company that can legally re-rate forklifts for safe operation when attachments are installed and supply new legally complaint rating plates.

To purchase a slip-on attachment to allow your forklift to safely push equipment around or for further information on forklift towing risk and regulations contact an MHE expert on 13 22 54.

For businesses looking for a specialist towing solution our range of specialist tow tugs available for sale and rent offer a safe and efficient alternative to trying to use a forklift to tow equipment or loads.

Our battery electric and internal combustion tow tugs offer towing capacities from 5T up to 30T and can operate across a wide variety of indoor and outdoor environments safely towing loads of all shapes and sizes.

Contact a member of our sales team on 13 22 54 or submit an online enquiry to discuss your next tow tug purchase.

Reference List

  1. 2010. Engineering Technical Bulletin: Towing & Forklift Trucks Guidance Paper. [ebook] Australian Forklift & Industrial Truck Association, pp.1-2. Available at: [Accessed 1 March 2022].
Disclaimer: The information contained in this blog is for general information only and is not intended as being an authoritative and in compliance with relevant legislation. Every workplace is different and you should always obtain your own professional and legal advice in relation to the steps necessary to make your site compliant with relevant legislation and to protect your business and its employees. AALG makes no warranty or representation that the information in this blog is appropriate for your business and accepts no responsibility for any reliance on the information given in this blog.