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Have you been wondering whether a forklift is a counterbalance truck?

Below, we take a closer look at what makes a forklift a counterbalance truck to help you decide whether this type of versatile and long-lasting forklift is right for your business and its specific storage and transportation requirements.

From counterbalance lift truck training to finding out whether you’ll need a counterbalance licence, the experts at SB Skills Solutions can answer the most common questions.

What is a counterbalance truck?

A counterbalance truck, also referred to as a B1 or B2 forklift, is the most common type of forklift people think of when they think about this type of machinery.

They are known as counterbalance trucks due to their design, which features a counterbalance weight at the rear of the truck to off-set the load that’s being lifted at the front of the forklift and prevent the vehicle from tipping over.

Most often, these incredibly powerful machines transport heavy objects, but they are used across a wide range of industries thanks to their counterweight. This makes them a safer option than other forklifts because it helps to prevent them from falling over and endangering both the driver and pedestrians working around the forklift.

Counterbalance trucks are classed as B1 forklifts if they have a capacity of up to 5000kg, but referred to as B2 forklifts if they have a capacity over 5000kg. They can often reach heights of around 5m and have either three or four wheels with the three-wheeled counterbalance trucks being better suited to operating in tighter spaces.

The front of the forklift boasts two forks that allow it to drive right up next to the load that requires transporting to then pick it up and move it to the desired location. Not to mention, these types of forklifts can be powered by either electric, LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas – a type of highly efficient hydrocarbon gas that exists in a liquefiedform), or diesel.

What is a counterbalance truck used for?

Counterbalance trucks can be used in a wide range of environments and situations including storage spaces, warehouses, and distribution systems. Ideal for transporting goods from one location to another, they can also be used for stacking items and even come with horizontal transport functions.

These versatile forklift trucks can be used inside on smooth, flat surfaces as well as on a construction site that often comes with more hazards and rougher terrain. Their sought-after versatility is in no small part thanks to the wide variety of attachments that can be fitted onto counterbalance trucks, such as clamps, rotators, and carpet poles.

What are the benefits of counterbalance trucks?

Counterbalance trucks come with many benefits that make them an advantageous addition to your business. By way of illustrating, electric counterbalance forklift trucks, in particular, only require water and electricity to keep them going instead of costly fuel. Plus, as you won’t need to store fuel for these electric trucks and can instead simply change the battery, helping to reduce the number of health and safety risks.

While every piece of machinery requires maintenance, you’ll be impressed to discover that high-quality counterbalance trucks typically have long life spans (often between 10,000 – 20,000 hours of usage before a major repair is required), meaning only the more affordable small repairs and part replacements will be required to keep this forklift truck in tip-top working condition.

Is a licence required to drive a counterbalance truck?

Put simply, no, a counterbalance licence is not required to drive a counterbalance truck. What many people refer to as a ‘forklift licence’ is actually just certification that someone has passed the basic relevant training and can now safely operate a forklift. Once you’ve achieved this certification, it will last a lifetime unless refresher or conversion training is required.

While a physical counterbalance forklift licence is not required for operating a counterbalance truck, an individual must meet the requirements of the forklift training course. According to HSE’s L117 ACOP (Approved Code of Practice) guidance, applicants must be of minimum school leaving age (MSLA) with a good enough understanding of verbal and written English to take the forklift training course.

Is an A16 forklift the same as a counterbalance truck?

If you’re interested in counterbalance lift truck training, it’s also worth mentioning that a counterbalance truck is sometimes referred to as an A16 industrial forklift truck. This is a term used by the CPCS (Construction Plant Competence Scheme), a not-for-profit organisation that helps those interested in the construction industry to gain vital skills, to refer to their CPCS forklift training courses. These courses are often advertised as ‘CPCS A16 Industrial Counterbalance Forklift’ training.

Where to find counterbalance truck training

On the lookout for fully accredited counterbalance forklift training courses in the Manchester and Liverpool area? Choose SB Skills Solutions. Based in Skelmersdale, our forklift training courses are led by professional instructors and examiners, are accredited by NPORS or held in-house. Suitable for beginners as well as experienced forklift operators, we offer everything from conversion courses and refresher re-tests to full training for counterbalance truck novices.

Call SB Skills Solution today!

To pick the brain of one of our team members or to book a place on one of our upcoming counterbalance forklift truck training courses, please don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and dial 01695 558 420. Alternatively, you can also get in touch with our helpful team by emailing us at or using our handy online contact form.

Once we’ve received your enquiry, we’ll ensure a member of our team gets in touch shortly to find out more about your forklift training requirements. Regardless of whether you’re in need of training recommendations or want to find out more about our next industrial forklift training course, our fantastic team is on hand to help with their unparalleled level of customer service!