Every forklift maintains its balance while carrying a load by using a cantilever system positioned on a fulcrum, which is the machine's front wheel axle. The cantilever system is similar to a simple teeter-totter, a device that also relies on a fulcrum to operate.
According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, a balanced forklift is highly stable and capable of carrying significant weight. The fulcrum, or pivot point, is the dividing line between the machine's weight and the load's weight.
Forklift America reports most forklifts indicate their load capacity on their respective data plates. The most important thing to remember when evaluating a load is that every object that is lifted has a center of gravity just as the forklift and load together have a center of gravity. This is why it is crucial for a forklift driver to keep the load within the triangular area between the front wheels, or fulcrum, and rear steering axle. It is this positioning of the load that keeps the loaded forklift stable. Placing the load too far away from the front axle is likely to cause the forklift to tip forward, while placing it too far to either side is likely to cause it to tip sideways.