If your material handling work environment has both in and outdoor areas, then it’s always important you consider the elements when it comes to operating forklift trucks. Safety and productivity requirements can be complex when you also have outdoor areas in the workspace, especially when the weather conditions get colder and harsher.
Of course it’s important to keep your lift trucks well maintained and ensure your operators are safe at all times. It’s also necessary that you employees recognise weather-related dangers and understand how to avoid them.
Here are a few key elements to consider when operating forklifts in the winter…
Have a training program in place
Even experienced operators may not understand all the principles of cold-weather operation with lift trucks. Not all knowledge is intuitive and letting all your operators navigate icy inclines and other winter hazards through experience only, can be a costly mistake both in terms of actual cost and injury. Therefore it’s highly advisable that you conduct regular training sessions before the winter arrives, and that you don’t allow staff to get behind the controls until they’ve passed the extra training on offer.
Emphasis safety first
It’s essential that any training emphasises safety above all else. When ice starts to form over surfaces, it can compromise their integrity and lead to skids, slides, tipovers, poor visibility and cornering, along with hazard spots at transition points between indoor and outdoor settings. So, it’s vital that your staff get safe driving and lifting techniques under their belts before you look at things like maintenance training for example.
Ensure operations are easier
Staff discomfort and distraction can lead to further potential hazards and safety issues. Cold bodies that are more exposed to freezing temperatures due to not having enough layers of clothing, can lead to impaired judgement and slower reaction times. This can then increase accident rates significantly, so it’s always important to provide your operator with winter protection clothing. They also need to be made aware of cabin temperature settings to help avoid feeling the cold too much.
Conduct routine maintenance training
It’s hugely important that your staff recognise the signs of cold-weather maintenance issues, such as a reduced forklift battery life. By having proper training in place, which is conducted on a regular basis, minor issues can be dealt with quickly. And you’ll avoid having to remove any lift trucks from circulation for too long.