Some material handling operations are entirely indoors. In these instances, operators usually use a range of machines including forklifts, pallet trucks and reach trucks to transport items around the warehouse and onto retail floors etc. However, if your operation involves moving between indoor and outdoor areas with a forklift you will need to factor in some additional challenges that operators won’t experience working indoors.
That’s why we have put together this short guide with factors that you should keep in mind when using storing or maintaining forklifts outdoors.
Protection From The Weather
This an obvious one, that still needs to be discussed. If you’re operating outdoors then your operators will be subjected to changing weather conditions. From heatwaves right through to negative temperatures and snow on the other end of the scale. Many forklift manufacturers offer solid cabs that offer increased levels of protection and comfort for operators by including extras such as air conditioning.
Uneven Terrain And Slopes
It is unlikely that any surfaces your forklift operates on will be perfectly flat so you should be sure to train all operators to handle speed control, braking and carrying heavy loads on uneven surfaces. When operating outdoors, you are subject to more uneven surfaces or terrain and therefore training must be given to avoid the risk of your forklifts toppling over, and causing injuries.
Check Forklift Before Use
Being exposed to outdoor elements will mean that forklifts have the potential to break down sooner than those that spend all day indoors. It is important to regularly maintain your forklift, such as checking tyres, antifreeze and oil levels to avoid overheating the engine in the summer or freezing the engine in the winter. If mud or dirt is to get stuck in or around your tires, it could compromise the grip your forklift has on the ground, which could result in your forklift breaking down or even an accident.
Be Aware Of Hazards
Working outdoors means there are many new potential hazards compared to working within a warehouse, so it is important to stay vigilant. These hazards could include:
- Rocks/uneven or loose terrain
- Stray branches
- Unexpected changes in gradient
- Sudden weather changes, such as heavy rain, snow, or hail.
In an environment such as a warehouse or construction site, communication is key to ensuring safe and efficient operations. All workers must alert one another to any changing conditions or issues that may arise throughout the working day. Communicating effectively between your team helps to reduce the risk of accidents occurring.
Forklift operators of all experience levels can face unexpected challenges when operating outdoors and on rough or unknown terrain. Following the tips in this guide can reduce the risk of an accident occurring, whilst increasing safety and efficiency across your outdoor operators.
If you would like more information on our range of forklift trucks and other material handling equipment to optimise your outdoor operation call us on 0113 287 4874