Forklift Operators – Be prepared and stay safe this winter.

With the severe weather that has rolled into our region and across the country, as well as Buffalo, NY and Seattle, WA areas, it is even more critical that forklift operators are prepared and stay safe throughout this winter.

NY State Trooper digs out a car with a lift truck in the aftermath of a blizzard.


Reacquaint staff with your safety measures and protocol as winter arrives.

It is easy to get comfortable with the everyday operations of your warehouse. Work site, etc. and forklift operators are more likely to have decreased concentration due to their cold and uncomfortable working environment.

An easy way to make your staff aware of this concern is to remind them that this cold weather is approaching and to also encourage dressing for the weather. While dressing in layers, be aware you should still allow for as free range of motion as possible. Clothing underneath your uniform could really help achieve optimal warmth throughout your body and allow you to safety operate your forklift.

Forklift Operator pre-shift inspection

 Pre-Check Inspection Checklist

OSHA requirements state that a pre-inspection prior to operating any forklift, every time, to ensure that forklifts will operate safely. Part of this checklist and during the winter months, close attention should be paid to taking every step, slowly. Run your machine for a few minutes before using it, this will warm it up your hydraulics.  Travel slowly and gentle to work the hydraulics until you reach full speed.

These steps may seem unnecessary, especially on a newer piece of equipment but this time spent prior to use will limit component failure during a lift versus. Running into equipment failure prior to beginning your work is a much safer plan of action.

” ….this time spent prior to use will limit component failure during a lift.”

Winterize Your Forklift

While maintenance is something to always think about, your checklist of winterization will be a little more entailed. It is always convenient to plan ahead. Below I have found a few ways in which you can winterize your machines.

Charge those batteries. The cold weather can negatively impact your battery’s lifespan. Because they also take a long time to charge, you may want to consider storing your equipment and batteries indoors. Regularly test your forklifts battery to ensure its at optimal performance.

Watch fluid and fuel levels. From antifreeze to lubricant, a low level of fluids can allow it to freeze overnight. Fill your fluids at the end of every shift. You may also want to consider cleaning, flushing and replacing the antifreeze before winter arrives. Also, give your forklift a post-shift inspection once it is sufficiently cooled down. These small pre and post inspections can seem like a inconvenience to a long shift, but that inconvenience will have seemed 1000 times smaller than a malfunctioning forklift while lifting loads. Let alone the safety you ensure be looking your forklifts over so thoroughly.

The number one method of winterizing your forklift is to store it and its components indoors.

Find the forklift that fits your industry here:

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About Tom Reddon

Tom has been involved in the forklift industry since 1986. He loves doing research, blogging, and speaking about forklifts. You can contact Tom on his Twitter or Google+ profiles.

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