Almost 1,000 workers in the UK are seriously injured every year in forklift accidents, according to the Forklift Truck Association. From load falls to tip-overs to pedestrian casualties, winter weather can make operating a forklift truck highly dangerous for even the most experienced drivers, not to mention extremely challenging. Even with modern technology and advanced machinery, snowy and icy conditions pose risks for all forklift truck operators.
Here at Key Performance Training, we are a leading provider of training in the forklift industry, so we know how important it is to be fully equipped with the right knowledge and skills. Read our guide on improving forklift truck safety in cold weather, so you and your employees can drive safely at work in the winter months.
Wear the right clothing
Employees operating forklifts in the winter months are likely to be working in very cold or even freezing temperatures. Too much exposure to the cold can cause health problems as serious as hypothermia and frostbite, which is why drivers need to wear the right clothing during their workday.
Thermal workwear including body warmers, fleece jackets, insulated hats and warm gloves are vital for employees operating in winter. A high-quality pair of work boots is also essential to keep your feet warm and dry while minimising the chance of slipping over on icy paths. Don’t forget to put on a high-visibility vest as well, to ensure you can be seen in all conditions. Most of the clothing required to improve forklift safety in winter can be found at Zoro.
Install tyre chains.
All forklift drivers will know that having the right tyres is essential. As well as choosing strong, thick tyres which are durable and long-lasting, it is also recommended to have tyres with a deep, robust tread area. That’s not just the case for cold weather, though: well-maintained tyres are vital for forklift trucks, no matter what the weather conditions are.
But to make tyres even safer in winter, think about installing tyre chains to your forklift truck. These are designed to provide better traction in snow, which reduces the chances of drivers losing control on icy surfaces. Snow Chains offer a variety of tyre chains in different sizes, which can be easily fitted to most forklift trucks and then removed when the weather’s warmer.
Consistent maintenance is key
It is especially important to maintain a forklift truck in winter to avoid any accidents. Checks such as examining fluid levels, warning lights and the battery are some things operators should do every day. There are also obvious issues which should be looked for, including leaks and bodywork problems.
But there are further tests drivers should be carrying out in winter to make sure their forklift is completely safe to operate. For example, you need to take extra care with trucks fuelled by liquid propane, as their coolant system can freeze in cold weather. It’s worth taking additional safety measures and purchasing a winter forklift service.
Provide full forklift training
If your employees have not been fully trained on operating a forklift in winter, they should not be driving it. Driving a car is simply not the same as handling a forklift truck and there are many more skills you need to have. Plus, when it comes to winter, supplementary knowledge is required to make sure you are completely prepared for harsh weather conditions.
Key Performance Training provides expert training on operating forklifts, including refresher training for those who need a reminder of how to work safely in winter. You can find out more about our forklift training courses here.
Staying safe in winter can be difficult for even the most experienced forklift truck drivers. But if you wear the right clothing, install additional protective gear, maintain your truck correctly and have it comprehensively serviced, you can greatly reduce the risk of danger. It’s also recommended to take forklift truck training courses, so you know the proper procedures for operating in cold weather.