Will A Counterbalance Forklift Licence Covers Driving a Reach TruckYou might have read many myths about driving the counterbalance forklifts. You might also hear that it is just like driving a vehicle with automatic transmission, so you think you can drive one, this is when untoward incidents and fatal accidents happen.

Driving a forklift is a very dangerous undertaking, if you do not know what you are doing, stay away from the forklift, and get trained first.

After you’ve taken the training and now you got your counterbalance forklift licence, can you use it to be permitted to drive a reach truck and other similar trucks? We will try to answer that question here. READ the answer below

Many beginners in the field of forklift operation have a misconception that a counterbalance forklift licence can cover reach trucks and other types of counterbalance trucks. This is not TRUE. That belief could get you into trouble.

Basically, the reason why it is not true is that counterbalance and reach trucks are two different types of lifts that have their own distinct operational controls and functions.

If you are already trained to operate a counterbalance truck and if you are tasked to perform a job using a reach truck, you have to be trained first in a specific course for a reach truck. You need to take a conversion course for you to enable to operate both the counterbalance forklift and the reach truck.

Now, the other question still remains that makes people also confused, and here it is.

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Does a Counterbalance Licence Cover All Sizes of Counterbalance Trucks?

Again, the training course has to be very specific to the category of forklift that you will be operating in your place of work. Even if you have a counterbalance forklift license in a 5-tonne machine and you want to drive a heavier capacity truck, you still have to undergo training specific to that truck. Counterbalance forklifts differ in weight, capacity and type of tires, you have to learn those specifics and you still have to take a conversion training course.

Like for example, ITSSAR, this accrediting body has three various size groups for counterbalance trucks. These groups are: 5 tonnes and below; 5 tonnes up to 15 tonnes and over 15 tonnes. If you want to be certified for all of those three categories, you need to take a conversion course to be able to drive all those counterbalance forklifts.

Counterbalance Forklift vs Reach Truck

Counterbalance forklifts could have some advantages over the reach truck, and vice versa. Depending on the purpose and use and even the work environment, you may find one more suited for the work than the other. To give some highlight of their differences, here’s how they vary:

Counterbalance forklift is the most common truck we see, this is what comes into our mind when we think of a forklift. Due to its different varieties in terms of the number and size of wheels, load capacity and fueling systems, counterbalance is the most flexible type of forklift. You can use it anywhere from tight spaces to rough and uneven terrain. You can power it with gas, PLG, and diesel and it could be electric. Counterbalance can be installed with attachments to make it suitable for the required job and work conditions.

On the other hand, a reach truck is versatile in the functions it is aimed to perform. It offers maximum height lifting capacity as its name implies. This feature makes it very ideal for warehousing. With its long legs, it can reach the racking system with a height of 15 feet and further and operate in very tiny corridors and spaces. Unlike the counterbalance where you can operate it indoors or even outdoors, the reach truck can only be operated indoors and cannot be driven on uneven floor surfaces.

Read related article: What are the Applicable HSE Forklift Truck Regulations?

What is the Difference Between a reach Truck and a Counterbalance Forklift?

The main difference between a reach truck and a counterbalance forklift lies in their design and functionality, which make them suitable for different types of material handling tasks. Here are the key distinctions between the two:

Design and Construction:

  • Counterbalance Forklift:  A counterbalance forklift is characterized by its counterweight at the rear of the vehicle, which balances the load being lifted. It does not have outriggers or an extending mast. The forks are located at the front, allowing the operator to drive directly up to the load.

  • Reach Truck: A reach truck is designed for operating in narrow aisles. It features a telescoping mast and outriggers that provide extended reach capabilities. The forks are attached to a carriage that extends forward to reach and retrieve loads stored on racking systems.

Load Capacity and Reach:

  • Counterbalance Forklift:  Counterbalance forklifts are typically used for lifting and transporting loads on the ground or at low heights. They have a higher load capacity compared to reach trucks, enabling them to handle heavier loads.

  • Reach Truck: Reach trucks are specifically designed for working in narrow aisles and reaching greater heights. They have a narrower chassis and a higher lift height capacity, allowing operators to access and retrieve loads from higher storage locations.

Maneuverability and Turning Radius:

  • Counterbalance Forklift:  Counterbalance forklifts have a wider turning radius and require more space for maneuvering due to their design. They are well-suited for outdoor and larger indoor spaces where maneuverability is less restricted.

  • Reach Truck:  Reach trucks excel in maneuverability, thanks to their narrow chassis and ability to navigate tight spaces. They are specifically designed for efficient operation in narrow aisles and compact storage areas.

Stacking and Retrieval:

  • Counterbalance Forklift: Counterbalance forklifts are ideal for simple stacking and retrieval tasks, particularly on the ground or at low heights. They can load and unload trucks, move pallets, and perform general material handling operations.

  • Reach Truck:  Reach trucks are designed for high-density storage environments. They excel at efficiently stacking and retrieving loads in narrow aisle racking systems. Their extended reach, combined with the ability to tilt the mast, allows operators to handle pallets deep within the racking system.


Understanding these differences is crucial when selecting the appropriate forklift for specific tasks and working environments. Both reach trucks and counterbalance forklifts have their unique strengths and are tailored to meet different material handling requirements.

 

 

 

License Requirements for Operating Reach Trucks in the UK

A. Specialized Training for Reach Truck Operation:

In the UK, operating a reach truck requires specialized training to ensure safe and efficient operation. The training typically includes theoretical knowledge and practical skills specific to reach trucks. Training programs are offered by accredited training providers who deliver comprehensive instruction on the operation, controls, and safety protocols related to reach trucks.

B. Differences in Skills and Techniques Required for Reach Trucks:

Reach trucks differ from other types of forklifts, such as counterbalance forklifts, in terms of design and functionality. Therefore, operators need to acquire specific skills and techniques for handling reach trucks effectively. These skills may include maneuvering in narrow aisles, operating the extended reach and tilting mechanisms, and stacking and retrieving loads at different heights. Additionally, operators must learn to balance the reach truck properly and maintain stability during operation.

C. Legality and Safety Considerations for Using a Reach Truck without Proper Certification:

Operating a reach truck without the appropriate certification is illegal and poses serious safety risks. In the UK, the Health and Safety at Work Act mandates that employers provide adequate training and certification for their forklift operators, including those using reach trucks. Non-compliance with these regulations can lead to legal penalties and potential workplace accidents. Proper certification ensures that operators understand the safety procedures, load limits, and operational requirements specific to reach trucks, reducing the likelihood of accidents and injuries.

In summary, individuals operating reach trucks in the UK must undergo specialized training to obtain the necessary certification. This training covers the unique skills and techniques required for reach truck operation and emphasizes the legal and safety considerations associated with using a reach truck without proper certification. Adhering to these license requirements ensures a safer working environment and reduces the risk of accidents or legal repercussions.

 

 

 

Overlapping Skills and Knowledge between Counterbalance Forklifts and Reach Trucks

A. Similarities between Counterbalance Forklifts and Reach Trucks:

Counterbalance forklifts and reach trucks share some similarities in terms of their basic principles of operation and overall function. Both types of forklifts are used for material handling tasks, and they require operators to follow similar safety practices and regulations. Additionally, some operational concepts, such as load stability and the importance of center of gravity, apply to both counterbalance forklifts and reach trucks.

B. Transferable Skills from a Counterbalance Forklift License to Reach Truck Operation:

Having a counterbalance forklift license can provide a solid foundation of skills and knowledge that can be transferred to reach truck operation. Some of the skills that overlap include:

  • Basic understanding of forklift controls and operational techniques.
  • Knowledge of workplace safety practices, including hazard awareness and pre-operational checks.
  • Understanding load capacity and weight distribution principles.
  • Familiarity with general forklift operation guidelines, such as maintaining stability and maneuvering in a controlled manner.

C. Areas where Additional Training May be Required for Reach Truck Operation:

While there are similarities between counterbalance forklifts and reach trucks, there are also important differences that necessitate additional training for reach truck operation. Areas, where additional training may be required, include:

  • Extended reach and tilting mechanisms are specific to reach trucks.
  • Maneuvering in narrow aisles and confined spaces with the use of reach truck controls.
  • Understanding the limitations and capabilities of reach truck mast and fork extensions.
  • Techniques for stacking and retrieving loads at greater heights.
  • Familiarity with specialized safety procedures related to reach truck operation.

It is essential to recognize the overlapping skills and knowledge between counterbalance forklifts and reach trucks while acknowledging the areas where additional training and expertise are required for safe and efficient reach truck operation. By building upon the foundation of a counterbalance forklift license, operators can acquire the specific skills needed to operate reach trucks effectively.

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Licensing Options and Upgrades for Forklift Operators

A. Exploring Options for Existing Counterbalance Forklift License Holders:

If you already hold a counterbalance forklift license, you have several options for expanding your skills and certifications. Some potential options include:

  1. Completing a conversion course: Some training providers offer conversion courses specifically designed to upgrade your existing counterbalance forklift license to include reach truck operation. These courses focus on the additional skills and knowledge required for reach truck operation, allowing you to add this certification to your existing license.

  2. Pursuing a separate reach truck license: Alternatively, you can choose to pursue a separate reach truck license. This involves undergoing the necessary training and certification specifically for reach truck operation. While this option requires additional time and investment, it offers a comprehensive and standalone certification for reach truck operation.

B. Training Programs for Obtaining a Separate Reach Truck License:

To obtain a separate reach truck license, you can enroll in specialized training programs offered by accredited training providers. These programs are specifically designed to equip you with the skills and knowledge required for safe and efficient reach truck operation. The training covers areas such as reach truck controls, maneuvering in narrow aisles, stacking and retrieving loads at various heights, and specialized safety procedures. Successful completion of the training program leads to the acquisition of a separate reach truck license.

C. Benefits and Career Opportunities of Acquiring Both Licenses:

Acquiring both a counterbalance forklift license and a reach truck license can offer several benefits and enhance your career opportunities within the forklift operation field. Some advantages include:

  • Versatility and flexibility: Holding both licenses allows you to operate different types of forklifts, making you a more versatile and adaptable operator. You can handle a wider range of material handling tasks and work in various industrial settings.
  • Increased employability:  Employers often prefer candidates who possess multiple forklift certifications. Having both licenses expands your job prospects and increases your chances of finding employment in a competitive job market.
  • Advancement opportunities:  Holding multiple licenses demonstrates your commitment to professional development and can open doors to higher-level positions within the forklift operation field. You may be eligible for supervisory or managerial roles that require knowledge and experience with different types of forklifts.
  • Personal growth and skill enhancement: Acquiring both licenses allows you to continually enhance your skills and knowledge in forklift operations. This ongoing professional development can contribute to your personal growth and increase your confidence and expertise in the field.

By exploring licensing options and upgrading your skills through additional training, you can expand your capabilities as a forklift operator, increase your employability, and pursue diverse career opportunities within the industry.

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To Wrap Up a Conclusion

It is evident that a counterbalance forklift license does not automatically cover driving a reach truck. While there may be overlapping skills and knowledge between the two types of forklifts, operating a reach truck requires specialized training and certification due to its unique design and functionality.

Acquiring a separate reach truck license is essential to ensure safety, compliance with legal requirements, and efficient operation in narrow aisles and high-density storage environments. Operating a reach truck without proper certification is not only illegal but also poses significant risks to workplace safety.

By understanding the differences between counterbalance forklifts and reach trucks, individuals holding a counterbalance forklift license can make informed decisions about further training and licensing options. Conversion courses or pursuing a separate reach truck license can provide the necessary skills and knowledge for safe and effective reach truck operation.

Moreover, obtaining both licenses can offer numerous benefits and open up broader career opportunities within the forklift operation field. Versatility, increased employability, and the potential for advancement are some advantages that come with acquiring multiple certifications.

To enhance professional growth, ensure compliance with regulations, and maximize career prospects, individuals should consider investing in specialized training and certifications specific to reach truck operations. By doing so, forklift operators can demonstrate their competence, dedication to safety, and their ability to handle various types of forklifts in diverse work environments.