Using Forklifts In Intense Weather

Forklifts Featured Forklift Operator Safety

Depending on how long you’ve been in Indiana, you may or may not know how intense and fickle the weather here can be. From blistering hot days in July to biting cold in January and loads of precipitation no matter the time of year, it’s annoying to say the least. If your business uses forklifts in Indiana, you need to know how best to navigate the weather conditions we often see.

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

Knowing how to operate your forklifts in rainy conditions is probably the most important weather condition, as it can happen any time of year and affects so many aspects of forklift operation.

First, a question we’ll field sometimes is whether or not electric forklifts can be used in the rain. Almost 100% of all modern electric forklifts are water-resistant and splash-safe, meaning the rain won’t pose any risk to the forklift or operator safety. Note though that electric lift trucks typically have less power than internal combustion lifts, meaning it could be more difficult to get through mud or other terrain made more hazardous by rain.

When operating a forklift in the rain, remember that the lift will be even less maneuverable. The brakes may be a little less responsive, and the forks will be slick, so go slowly and take precautions to be sure to avoid accidents. Your visibility will also likely be fairly limited, so effective use of your lights and horn will help avoid incidents in the rain.

To maximize forklift operator comfort, invest in quality rain gear (treaded boots and gloves) to help your operators keep focused despite the inclement weather.

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 and they can’t reach the brake in time–it’s a recipe for disaster.
  • ?Braking can be even more difficult in slush than in rain. Look into pneumatic tires for your lift or even forklift tire chains for extra grip.
  • ?Allow the forklift to warm up for a bit before throwing it straight into work for 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.

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.

Get Your Forklifts Ready For Indiana Weather

Rain, sleet, or heat–you and your business should be ready for anything. For more information on operating lifts in intense weather, or to schedule a seasonal tune-up on your fleet, Turn To Tynan by calling 317-597-4003.

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