How to Prepare Your Forklifts for Winter Weather and the Holiday Rush
It's time for the busiest warehouse season of the year! While I'm sure we're all looking forward to the rush, let's take a moment to discuss operational safety.
Keeping forklifts at peak performance (while keeping workers safe) always stays at the top of the priority list. With Winter cooling things off, and holiday shipping/distribution speeding up the workdays, how do we prepare our forklifts for both?
What Our Forklifts Need to Prepare For
What kind of issues do we have to expect, and prepare for, this season?
Winter weather hitting forklifts:
- Temperature swings, going from cold to warm and back again
- Slick floors
- Wet docks
Holiday shipping/distribution rush affecting operators:
- Overcrowded floors & racks
- Heightened work activity
- Busiest docks all year
What can these do to forklifts?
For one, they stress the forklift's internal systems. Like your car, when you overwork a forklift in colder weather, it wears components down faster. Breakdowns become common...sometimes irreparable.
For two, both factors increase the chances for slipping. That goes for forklift tires as well as workers' shoes.
While you'll need preparations for workers as well, let's focus on prepping your forklift fleet first. Many of the typical maintenance tasks pull double-duty here, but there are a few additional precautions you can take.
Winter Weather Preparations for Forklifts
- Change out the oil on any forklifts coming up for maintenance soon. Do it ahead of time to avoid hydraulics clogging up.
- Check forklift batteries. Make sure they're clean, have no leaks/stains, and hold their charge even if they're indoor/outdoor.
- Flush antifreeze and replace. Just as a precaution with cooler winds & rain.
- Check tire pressure. Nobody wants a forklift running on flat, or overinflated tires.
- If you haven't within the prior 3 months, check the air, fuel, and transmission filters.
- If you can, enclose the forklifts' operator cabs. Not only does this give your operators protection from the elements, it also protects the forklift's controls. Like its engine, cold/wet weather will wear down sensitive controls, which risks an accident and shortens the forklift's lifespan.
Holiday Rush Preparations for Forklifts
If that wasn't enough, the frantic pace of shipping & distribution need some preparation too!
- Watch your walkways. Workers coming in and out can track ice & snow inside. Forklifts can skid on the wet walkways and topple.
- Keep fluids topped up. Forklifts may burn through their water/oil more quickly when you're rushing through shifts.
- Have your forklifts' exhaust systems checked for carbon monoxide leaks! Monoxide leaks can be especially dangerous during cold weather while stored inside buildings.
Safe Forklifts Help Keep Everyone Safe Through Winter
And as always, the best protection for workers themselves—gear up! Pull out the winter warmth & safety gear. Even if it doesn't get too cold where you are, another layer helps stave off colds and flus.
Keep some extra towels around too, for mopping up water, and wiping down docks.
If you've already prepped your forklifts, you're ahead of the game. If not, you still have time to make preparations.
Cromer service technicians are happy to help you prep your forklifts, if your schedule just doesn't have the time.
Until next month…enjoy your Thanksgiving!
Marshall Cromer, The Forklift Boss
Cromer Material Handling
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