What is a Telehandler and when to use one?


21 April 2021



What Is a Telehandler?

A telehandler is a machine with multiple uses that can lift, move and position material. It is short for ‘telescopic handler’ and is capable of receiving different attachments in order to shift material of all manner of shapes and sizes. It is a highly utilitarian piece of equipment that is usually the first machine on any given site and the very last to leave – such is the range of applications for which it can be used.

Telehandlers are built for handling and moving material and through the range of accessories that can be attached to them they benefit from great versatility. They are used on sites for staging initial materials, lifting loads during the job and cleaning up the site at the end of the job. They also play a vital role in many warehouse operations.

The accessories that can be attached to a telehandler include:

  • Crane jibs
  • Buckets
  • Bucket and claw
  • Lifting hooks
  • Fork Carriage

Alongside the telescopic boom, such accessories render the telehandler the on-site Jack of all trades. The crane jib enables telehandlers to pick and lift loads of great weight, while being able to access tricky to reach areas that a traditional forklift cannot.

Telehandlers can receive buckets of multiple designs and sizes, making telehandlers suitable for carrying a huge variety of loads without issue.

Forklifts vs telehandlers – what is the difference?

Forklifts are essentially telehandlers without the flexibility. A forklift just uses forks, capable of lifting up and down, while telehandlers have the option of using telescopic booms, which can receive all manner of different attachments rendering them a lot more flexible and meaning they are suitable for a wider variety of applications.

When to use a telehandler

When can you not us a telehandler? This might be an easier question to answer! Telehandlers are used for moving heavy loads, accessing areas that traditional forklifts struggle to reach, for cleaning up after a job and for transporting waste materials.

Telehandlers are able to pick up, carry and place materials very efficiently and quickly around a site. They are also available in four-wheel drive and four-wheel steering, rendering them capable of working in rough terrain and tough conditions, including the ability to ascend hills and move over obstacles. They are also very cost effective.

What do operators need to be able to use a telehandler?

Individuals can train to use telehandlers by taking one of the appropriate PASMA or IPAF accredited courses, ensuring that the machine is used in an appropriate and safe manner on site. By completing their training, telehandler operators will gain a safety-heavy mind-set so they can go about checking the machinery and using it safely on site, with the safety of everyone else around them in mind. The training will teach the operator what speed they can operate the telehandler at and the regulations that are in place as well as how to adapt to different working conditions. In addition, telehandlers benefit from different hydraulic functions that must be learnt and understood before operation.


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