Operating MEWPs and Forklifts in Winter Conditions

Mar 01 2020 | 3 Min. Read Safety Winter

Every winter season, operators of MEWPs and forklifts are faced with a new set of challenges. Winter conditions do not always lend to the safest working environments, and therefore, operators must take special precautions once the weather starts getting colder.

Cold Weather and Equipment Maintenance


Did you know that cold temperatures could possibly damage your equipment? It is important in extreme temperatures more so than ever to ensure your regular preventative maintenance has been done on your machines, including but not limited to: using lubrication oil designed for cold temperatures, checking your antifreeze levels, and ensuring your tire-pressure levels are where they should be. Cold temperatures could cause hydraulic lifts to freeze up, which requires extra maintenance to ensure lifts are lubricated with the correct oil to prevent any stiffness in the joints. Equipment lights should also be checked, and bulbs should be in working condition prior to operation. Cold weather can cause extra wear and tear on your machines so performing regular preventative maintenance is especially crucial during the winter months.


Challenges with Operating in Freezing Temperatures


Operating machinery in freezing temperatures brings about a new set of individual challenges for operators. For example, ice patches are often invisible or difficult to spot, and therefore require that operators move slowly and diligently when operating machinery in areas where ice has the potential to occur. Operators should also take into consideration what they are wearing while on the machine; are they suited up enough to contend with the harsher than usual climate? Operators should also listen to their bodies and take breaks when needed to avoid feeling the effects of extra fatigue caused by winter climates.


Operating Safely in Winter Conditions


Once you have completed your pre-trip inspection and performed any required preventative maintenance, you’re ready to begin using your machine. As you use your machine in winter conditions, you may find that using a salt or sand mixture on the ground could increase traction and lower your chances of slipping on ice patches. In addition, operating your machinery more slowly than you would in optimal conditions allows you more reaction time in case you were to hit an unexpected patch of ice. In the same vein, ensuring your work area is clear of pedestrians and debris could also limit the number of accidents that occur while operating machines in winter conditions. Remember that operating machinery safely takes extra time and diligence in cold weather conditions.


Wintertime Doesn’t Have to Stall Productivity!


The winter season does not have to be a death sentence to your operation’s productivity. By ensuring you have weatherproofed equipment, operators that are prepared for the change in condition, and a safe working environment, wintertime can be just as productive as any other season. If you’re unsure of what you might need to do to get ready for operating in winter conditions, use your resources! Check your equipment manuals, contact your equipment retailers such as Morrison Industrial Equipment, and utilize training services such as TrainMor for their expert advice and approaches to working in changing climates. As soon as the weather gets chilly, start getting prepared and ready for the small changes that will make your operation safer in the wintertime.

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