Using A Forklift In The Intense Indiana Weather

Forklift Operator Safety Featured

Most of the time, Indiana’s weather doesn’t put an unneeded strain on your business. However, there is some months where using a forklift in the intense Indiana weather can become a chore. From blistering hot days in July to biting cold in January -- and storms all year around -- prepping and driving a truck may seem a bit different, no matter what model of forklift you use.

Let’s take a look at some of the conditions we’re most likely to see, and how you and your forklift operators can best handle them.

Using Forklifts in the Rain

Rain is the most common adverse weather condition you’ll find in Indiana. From misting drizzles to raging storms, here are some tips in operating your forklift in the rain:

  • An electric rider forklift should not be used in the rain. Electric forklifts can run in wet parking lots and damp environments, but they shouldn’t be used outside in a downpour. Their components are pretty well sealed against moisture, but they aren’t really made to navigate deep puddles or torrential rains.
  • Forklifts may feel sluggish in the rain. The lift may be less maneuverable, and the brakes a little less responsive. Solid rubber forklift tires get very little traction on wet surfaces as well. Your forks will also get wet making them slicker than normal. You will want to lift your loads slowly to make sure they don’t slip off and become damaged.

  • Your visibility will likely be fairly limited. Effective use of your lights and horn will help avoid incidents in the rain.
  • Keep everything as dry as you can. To maximize forklift operator comfort, invest in quality rain gear (treaded boots and gloves). Cover your loads so the wood or metal pallets don’t get wet. Or get a canopy for your open-air forklift cab.
  • Remember though that if that rain is accompanied by thunder and lightning, no outdoor work should be done with metal equipment.

Using Forklifts in Snow & Ice

When you work in Indiana, nasty winters are something you’ve got to live with. For the most part, knowing how to safely operate your forklift in the rain will prepare you for winter weather operation, with a few caveats:

  • Operator comfort is even more important. If an operator’s extremities numb up from improper attire it’s a recipe for disaster. See if you can find a new or used forklift with a heated cab.
  • Braking can be even more difficult in slush than in rain. Only use forklifts with pneumatic tires or even forklift tire chains for extra grip. The beginning of the winter is a perfect time for a maintenance forklift checkup to look at tread, wipers, and other winter needs.
  • Warm up your forklift before you start the day. This will help keep the engine and hydraulics performing at their peak.

Using Forklifts in the Heat

When the Indiana summer comes around, your employees aren’t the only ones who’ll be feeling it. Heat can be especially rough on your forklift as well. Notably, the fluids in your lift will evaporate much more quickly, so keep a close eye on fluid levels like your battery water.

Other engine parts have it rough during summer as well. Engine belts will crack more easily in the summer, both due to drying out as well as working overtime in moving coolant throughout the engine. It also becomes very important to make sure your radiator is clean and free of dust and debris.

Again, be sure to keep operator comfort and safety in mind. Heat exhaustion is a common occurrence for lift truck operators, so take some precautions to keep your employees safe: think about putting fans in the operator area, schedule forklift operator tasks around cooler parts of the day, and make sure your operators have plenty of opportunities throughout the day to relax in a cool area.

Tynan Can Help You Use a Forklift in Intense Weather

Rain, sleet, or heat–you and your business should be ready for anything. Tynan can help your company find the perfect forklift for unpredictable weather. Just call our experts at 317-597-4003.

Always use caution when operating a forklift in intense weather.

Related Articles