Once again, winter weather is here — and for those operating forklifts, that means it’s time to double down on safety protocols.
If you’re not equipped with the right gear and knowledge, harsh conditions like wind, sleet, snow, and ice can make forklift operations exponentially more difficult and dangerous. In order to prevent damaging your equipment and products — or, even worse, harming yourself — it’s important to know the best practices and stick to them. To get you started, let’s take a look at five of the most critical forklift safety tips for winter weather.
5 Forklift Safety Tips for Winter Weather
To keep your business profitable, forklift operations must go on regardless of what Mother Nature may bring. Fortunately, many forklifts are safe to drive in all seasons — as long as you’re adhering to the appropriate safety procedures.
1. Winterize Your Forklift
Cold temperatures can have adverse effects on a variety of your forklift’s components, leading to malfunctions or complete breakdowns. And if your forklift malfunctions while carrying a heavy load, you could put equipment, products, and workers at risk. Therefore, it’s important to perform some winterization maintenance on your forklift to better prepare them for the chilly days ahead.
In order to winterize your forklift, make sure to complete the following tasks:
- Tune-up your forklift’s hydraulic lifts
- Repair or replace any broken parts
- Regularly test your forklift’s battery to ensure it’s near maximum charge capacity
- Put antifreeze in your forklift’s coolant tank or radiator
- Inflate your forklift’s tires to optimal pressure (where applicable)
- Ensure all lights are fully functional
- Lubricate any moving parts
2. Inspect Your Forklift Before and After Use
Per OSHA requirements, all forklifts need to be examined each day before starting work. However, in the wintertime, it’s best to check them even more often — preferably before each use. Do a quick, but thorough inspection of the following components to ensure you’re set up for success before hopping on:
- Fluid levels
- Any visible leaks or cracks
- Tire condition and pressure
- Fork condition, including the top clip retaining pin and heel
- Finger guards
- Safety decals and nameplates
- Safety devices and seatbelt
3. Check Your Environment for Potential Hazards
Winter brings various harsh environmental conditions like snow, sleet, ice, and frost. Take some time to become aware of your environment before driving your forklift through it. Identify any potential hazards on your operating path, and take action to alleviate them beforehand.
For example, you could sprinkle some salt before driving down a particularly icy path. Or, if you’re unable to figure out a remedy for a potential hazard, you could determine an operating route that avoids it altogether for the time being.
4. Slow Down and Follow Safely
Due to the potential hazards mentioned above, the most basic, yet important things you can do to operate a forklift safely in winter are driving slowly and increasing your following distance behind others in your workplace. This is especially important when turning corners, going around bends, and operating around other pieces of equipment. Operating at a responsible speed and distance can help prevent slips, skids, and tip-overs that result in costly damages and injuries.
5. Wear Warm, But Safe Clothing
Cold weather calls for bulky jackets, warm hats, and cozy mittens — but those items aren’t always compatible with the required gear for safe forklift operation. In order to avoid experiencing cold stress, you’ll want to find clothing options that keep you warm, but lend themselves toward safer operations. Some examples include:
- Insulated gloves
- Insulated safety boots
- Winter goggles
- Insulated, tighter-fitting winter jackets and pants
- Hard hat liners
While looking for these items, opt for bright colors to ensure maximum visibility in snowy conditions.
Looking for a safe, convenient, versatile forklift option? Choose the Forklift Wrecker. It’s a durable forklift attachment that can move small to medium-size vehicles quickly and efficiently — no matter the season. Contact our team to learn more about how it can improve your facility’s processes.
The material and information contained on this website is for general information purposes only. You should not rely upon the material or information on the website as a basis for making business, legal or other decisions.
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