Forklift drivers who are employed to operate their forklift outside will invariably have to deal with inclement weather. This can be a test of their abilities, their skill and experience. But wet weather also challenges managers to reduce the stakes and make the workplace safer. Here are some safety tips that drivers and supervisors can adopt to overcome the elements in outdoor work environments.
Working In The Rain Requires Lights And A Drain
Debris hazards and unstable ground only get worse in the rain and unexpected ponds can be deadly. Other surface obstructions can even cause risk of overturns if not immediately identified, remedied and all drivers warned of the hazards in advance. Managers and operators should clear the ground of obstructions and plan to avoid any unfixable issues before beginning the day’s work. Wherever possible, drain puddles in the workspace or flag areas to avoid for maximum forklift safety.
When operating a forklift in the rain, operators should always remember the forklift will be less manoeuvrable. The brakes will likely be less responsive, and the forks will be slick. Go slow and take all precautions to avoid accidents.
Most safety experts will tell you the most statistically unsafe situations are generally those where the forklift is operated half-inside and half-outside.
Forklift Drivers Personal Gear Affects Forklift Safety
When the weather is wet and rainy, drivers need to wear the appropriate gear to be comfortable and safe. Gloves and hats are required to keep operators comfortable and responsive. If operating a forklift and repeatedly going from warm and dry interiors to cold and wet exteriors, zippered coats and well-ventilated gear can become mandatory.
Forklift operators should have workplace rated protective footwear with pronounced tread so they can walk on slippery surfaces, as proper footwear prevents more slips and falls than you might expect. Also, drivers’ gloves should have non-slip grips.
Wet Work Sites Require More Experience And Less Distractions
It’s always important to avoid distractions and keep focused, and this becomes even more critical in heavy rain. Supervisors can take a tour around the workspace and take note of any potential hazards. Reduce any distractions. Consider installing mirrors, adding lights front and back of the forklift as well as reflective strips.
Outfitting Your Forklift For Wet Weather
Homemade forklift covers reduce visibility. While it may seem tempting to add plywood roofs and vinyl covers these add-ons can reduce driver visibility and they’re sure to be spotted by safety inspectors and could lead to fines and increased scrutiny. So remove the plywood, plastic shrink wrap or cardboard covers. If your forklift cover isn’t perfectly clear and if it blocks the operator’s view in anyway, then you’ll likely face fines. Choose a cover designed with ribs and gutters to handle the water. Heavy duty full forklift cab enclosures made of clear vinyl are a good option and are a lot less expensive than having to pay a fine.
Slow down on rainy days. It’s a precaution that limits productivity, but nothing is safer than slower forklifts. We all would drive our cars slower in inclement weather and the same applies to forklift trucks. Taking extra time and increased care with a forklift is even more important.
During days of inclement weather, pre-shift forklift inspections become especially important. Occupational Health and Safety legislation around the world requires that the pre-shift inspections are completed in detail and retained by the company for future reference. It’s estimated that as much as ten percent of potential forklift safety issues are discovered by the operator during the pre-shift inspection. That means that complying with this important legislation prevents major repairs, accidents, injuries and even in extreme cases, fatalities.
The Mastercheck app is the perfect way to complete the pre-shift inspections with the added advantages of going paperless and backing up inspections in the cloud. No more stuffing inspections in filing cabinets when the saved inspection will now be available at the supervisor or operator’s fingertips. When the web-based Full Company Access is utilized with the Supervisor Dashboard, the supervisor may manage all forklifts, operators, view all inspections as well as accident reports, repair reports and near miss reports all with photos of any issues. Further analytics provide the supervisors with in-depth reporting on details and even trends for “fails”, accidents and near misses.
When inclement weather threatens your operation, take the necessary precautions as listed above and always complete a pre-shift forklift inspection. This will ensure a much safer workplace, happier forklift operators and an environment any company would be proud of.