Forklifts in the Winter – How to Prepare Your FLTs and Staff for The Winter.

Forklifts in the Winter – How to Prepare Your FLTs and Staff for The Winter.

With the festive period right around the corner, you know what we can expect. That’s right, the big 3 – snow, rain, and ice. Don’t you just love being British? Well, no matter how you feel about the weather in the winter, we know something that dislikes it – your forklifts.

That’s right. If you don’t prepare your FLTs for the winter, you and your business could be in for a rough time. So, why risk it, when you could take our advice and ensure all of your forklifts (and staff!) are prepared for the winter and continue to operate?

Well, in this blog, we’re going to go over some of the best things you can do to ensure your forklifts, and the staff that uses them can continue to operate during a time filled with snow, ice, and rain. Are you ready? Let’s do it!


The Nitty-Gritty.

Reducing the risk of injuries in and around the workplace is an absolute must, but the winter weather, sadly, doesn’t make this any easier. So, one of the most important things to do is to prepare the walkways and roads exposed to the winter weather. With ice and snow being a leading cause of accidents in the colder months of the year, grit, salt, and sand are a must.

Using grit (or alternatives) works best before the cold weather and ice can set in. So, where possible, it’s recommended you check weather forecasts regularly to prepare. When snow and ice is forecast, try to place down grit or salt before the first instance of ice. This will keep roads, paths, and workspaces in the best possible condition before the cold weather can do too much. However, as the Chinese proverb goes, ‘The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now’. Don’t worry, we’re not expecting you to have put down grit 20 years ago, but what we’re saying is that, if you didn’t lay down grit or sand to prepare for the ice, the second-best time to do this is right away.


Cold-Weather Training.

No, we’re not talking about training your staff to scale Everest.

If your staff work outside, or your business has an outside area like a yard or storage space, you’ll want to prepare them for working in cold conditions. Not only on foot, but also when behind the wheel of, or working around a forklift.

Of course, cold and slippery conditions create more risks in the working environment, as does low visibility. Sadly, the winter months bring snow, rain, and ice – all of which can create a cold, slippery, and low visibility working environment. So, to lower the risk of accidents and injuries, forklift activity should be kept at a slower pace, and only operated by a qualified and, if possible, experienced operator. However, this won’t completely eliminate the risk of collisions, so providing the forklift with a clear space to work in and remaining well away from the forklift are highly recommended. However, there will be times when you’ll need to declare that it isn’t safe to use a forklift at all and find a suitable alternative. Be it either on another day or on foot.

For workers on foot, we suggest assessing the conditions in the outside workspace before continuing. For example, if you’re manually transporting goods, consider working at a slower pace to lower the risk of damaging either the goods or yourself. Plan out your routes before committing and try to prepare all walkways and roads before beginning your work. No, we’re not telling you that snow is an excuse for you to be lazy, but it is a valid reason to speak to your supervisors about what you can do to help reduce the risk of injuries.


Winter Fashion.

Paris Fashion Week doesn’t take place in December. So, luckily, you and your staff don’t have to worry about looking fashionable at work during the winter months.

However, what you will want to prepare for is spending time outside in the cold, whilst still being expected to work. Along with standard safety clothing such as high-vis vests or jackets, you’ll want to ensure your staff are either provided with coats, gloves, and appropriate boots or to make them aware they’re expected to bring their own. As, not only will your staff struggle to work efficiently in the cold weather without the proper clothing, but it also violates several employee rights if they’re made to work in cold conditions without proper procedures in place.


Pimp My Forklift.

Sadly, we’re not recommending you fit out your forklifts with subwoofers and a TV, no matter how much you want to watch Christmas films whilst working.

From coverings and casings to winter tyres and fluids, there are plenty of ways to prepare your forklift for the cold and icy weather. Though this will come at an extra cost, it will help to protect your forklift from malfunctioning and breaking in the harsh weather. So, it’s a choice between spending a little to save a lot, or not spending anything and a high-risk of spending a lot (which we wouldn’t recommend). Not only this but preparing your forklift for the winter weather will allow forklift operators to perform their jobs more efficiently.


Check, Check, and Check Again.

Just like you would any other time of the year, you’ll want to ensure you check your forklift or any other FLT before and after you’ve used it.

However, your routine checks become more important during the winter months. Due to the harsh weather conditions, a small or minor problem can soon become a big one. It’s also important to ensure your routine checks are performed by qualified professionals. Failure to thoroughly check your forklifts can be dangerous at the best of times, let alone when working in icy and snowy conditions.

However, this point isn’t solely focused on your forklifts. You’ll also want to check walkways and working spaces are safe to operate. Prepare them as much as you can, however, you may also need to know when it’s unsafe to work. If large areas are covered in a thick layer of ice, or snow is making it extremely hard to see, you may need to think about assessing your options.

Lastly, check the weather forecasts. Of course, these aren’t always accurate, but it’s better than nothing. After all, it’s always better to be prepared for something that doesn’t happen, rather than unprepared for something you had no idea might happen.


Thanks for reading! For more forklift and truck-based blogs, click here. Or, if you’re looking for forklift training, which can be taken at a range of purpose-built locations (or even your own premises), click here.

Until next time, stay safe!

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