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Man Basket for Forklifts and Telehandler Overview

Learn More About Forklift Man Baskets

You’ll see them at job sites and inside warehouses. Commonly thought of as a staple of the industrial Industry, the forklift man basket has revolutionized how we work (safely) at heights.

This article is going to take a look at forklift man baskets. How are the designed? How much do they cost? Who makes them? How can we use them safely?

What is a Forklift Man Basket?

A forklift man basket is a metal cage that slips onto a forklift's tines to elevate personal above the ground. This is often to accomplish a job inside a warehouse, such as retrieving items, electrical work, and general labour.

The forklift man basket enables works to safely use both their hands and not lose their balance while working at heights. Additionally, it allows for workers to work together at heights, simplifying many jobs.

As humans, we are still prone to accidents, so the forklift attachments still has to be used with an abundance of caution. Wearing tethers and harnesses, observing weight limits, correct loading, and proper maintenance is still essential for safe operation.



All man baskets should fully enclose the worker(s) once they are inside the basket. There should not be any open sides in a man basket.

A high-quality man basket will have an inward swinging spring-loaded gate with a locking device to keep it shut.

Inward swinging gates make sense from a safety point of view. If the gate cannot swing outwards, then a failed lock will not result in the gate accidentally opening if a worker was to lean on it.

Some models won’t have a gate at all. Instead, the lower bar on the front of the man basket will be removable, and workers will have to duck under the top bar to enter or exit the man basket. 

This option works well from a safety point of view. If the top bar is welded in place, it can not be accidentally open if weight is applied. 

Models without a gate are generally cheaper to purchase. Just be sure your workers are agile enough to enter and exit the platform, and you don’t have large or awkward materials to load.

Sometimes we see man baskets with nothing more than a removable chain going across the gate. There is no safety redundancy if this chain is not secured properly, not secured at all, or is simply tripped over. The chain entry gate should be strictly avoided.

High Back Railing/Safety Screen

Whenever you are using a forklift man basket with a mast-style forklift, a high back railing with a safety screen should be installed. 

This is to protect the worker inside the man basket from coming into contact with the forklift mast. Typical high back railings/safety screens are 60” or larger.


A typical forklift man basket is built to hold two workers at the same time. In a 4x4 man basket, that would give each worker 8 square feet of working room. Larger forklift work baskets are available. However, you must ensure your forklift can accommodate wider models.

The typical weight capacity of a forklift man basket is 1,000 pounds. It’s also important to bear in mind that this is the only weight restriction for the work platform only.

The forklift itself will also have a weight restriction to be observed when using a man basket. Typically this restriction will be one-third or one-quarter of the forklifts rated lift capacity.

 Be sure to know the capacity for both your work platform and forklift. You should comply with the most restrictive weight to ensure safety.

Fork Slots and Attachment

It’s important that the forks used to lift the man basket fit properly. Always follow manufacturer's procedures for attachment instructions. 

Typically a 4x4 forklift man basket will have a fork slot diameter of around 2.5” thick and 7” wide. Because the work platform is 4 feet across, you will also need a minimum of 48” long forks.

On man baskets with open-ended fork slots, forks longer than 48” can be used with caution. Many accidents have happened when an unsuspecting forklift driver has forgotten about the extra length of fork hanging out the front of the man basket and damaged a wall or worse.

Be sure your forks are rated to handle the weight of the man basket and its occupants.

Typical man baskets will have a pin locking system to attach the man basket to the forks. Two pins are used on each fork to hold the basket securely to the forks. A chain is also used as a backup to hold the basket to the forklift mast.

 Damaged or missing pins need to be replaced before the man basket is used. Chains are not a suitable alternative for the original locking mechanism engineered by the manufacturer. 

Floor and Toe Rail

Most forklift man baskets will have a steel mesh floor and a 6 inch toe rail. Some models will come with a heavier-duty expanded metal non-skid floor and toe rail. 

If non-skid is important to you and the job you're doing, then this is an important consideration. Otherwise, it may be more important for you to save the added weight and expense simply.


For the purpose of illustrating a proper price range for forklift man baskets, we have only considered quality, made in America man baskets that meet or exceed OSHA requirements.

For a 4x4 man basket with a high back railing/safety screen for mast-style forklifts built and shipped to your business, you would be looking at a range from $1300 to $2200.

On the lower end you could expect a functional safe man basket, but without a swinging gate. Instead, you would have to remove the bottom bar to enter or exit the basket. You would also not have the ability to collapse and store the man basket.

On the higher end of the price range, you would be getting a sturdier man basket, with an inward swinging gate and locking mechanism. The basket would have the ability to be disassembled without the use of tools.

Looking up one size to the 4x6 forklift man baskets with a high back railing/safety screen, after building and shipping to your business you would be around $2400.

4x6 man baskets commonly come with inward swinging doors and the ability to disassemble for storage.

Which Manufacturers Do You Recommend?

We would only ever consider recommending a made in America forklift man basket that meets or exceeds OSHA standards. 

For forklift man baskets with high back railings/safety screens, we recommend (in no particular order) Star Industries and Haugen Attachments.

Star Industries manufacturers all of their forklift man baskets right in Fort Worth, Texas. All of their products meet and exceed OSHA standards. Star Industries has come to be known as a leader in high-quality forklift man baskets.

Haugen Attachments man baskets also meet and exceed all OSHA requirements. Haugen builds all-man baskets in North Dakota, and is a popular name in the industry.

Blue Diamond has a variety of different platforms that exceed OSHA requirements including a 4 foot by 12 foot man basket

Common Sense Safety

Even the safest forklift man basket is only as safe as those who are operating it. Working at heights is inherently dangerous, and everyone involved should be fully focused on following all regulations and recommendations.

Check Your Pins

Do a complete inspection of your forklift man basket before you use it. Check to make sure all the assembly pins are securely in place, and nothing is lost or damaged. A similar pre-inspection should be done for the forklift.

Read Your Manuals

Be familiar with the manuals for your forklift and forklift man basket. Know the rated capacities, limitations, and any important specifications before you begin working.

Establish Communication

Ensure that workers in the man basket have a clear line of communication to workers operating the forklift. Keep in mind that workplaces can be too loud to communicate effectively, and a system of hand signals may be better.

Secure Work Area

Secure the work area underneath your forklift man basket to protect others from falling objects, dust, and debris created by the man basket.

Use Safety Devices

Your lanyard or safety harness can’t do you any good if you aren’t wearing it (properly).

Do Not Move Forklift With Workers In The Man Basket

The forklift should not be driven with workers in the man basket.

The forklift should also not be driven with the man basket elevated. A higher centre of gravities drastically increases the chances of toppling the forklift.

Written by Cohen Meyer
Cohen Meyer is a product researcher and content contributor for Skid Steers Direct.

 Cohen has spent over 12,000 hours operating skid steers, telehandlers, excavators and tractors. He is a former business owner, certified welder and a self proclaimed tech geek.

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