There are many safety risks associated with operating heavy machinery. Those risks are compounded by extreme weather – especially heat.
Forklift operators aren’t strangers to taking precautionary measures while on the job. With that said, there are extra safety measures forklift drivers must take in the summertime in order to keep themselves and their co-workers safe.
Whether you’re working indoors or outdoors, you are still susceptible to heat exhaustion and illness. We have a few helpful tips to help you maintain your health and safety while operating a forklift in extreme heat.
Get Enough Rest
Heat exhaustion paired with lack of sleep is a seriously dangerous combination for any forklift operator. Ensuring you are well-rested helps diminish risks associated with lack of energy and sleep. Failing to get an uninterrupted 7 – 8 hours greatly increases your risk for slowed reaction times, decreased awareness and perception, and shorter attention span.
Taking breaks is encouraged regardless of weather conditions, but it’s especially important in high temperatures. Make sure you aren’t skipping scheduled breaks. Taking multiple 15 minutes breaks during the duration of your shift will help combat heat-related fatigue. Make sure you take your break in a shaded and/or air conditioned area.
Perhaps one of the most important tips, staying hydrated is crucial to your safety. The risk of cardiac issues and heat stroke are greatly magnified in high temperatures. Always have a bottle of fresh water available when operating a forklift in the summertime. Drink 8 – 12 glasses of water a day to avoid dehydration.
If you are a coffee drinker, make sure you are drinking equal to/more water to every cup of coffee you consume. Coffee causes dehydration and loss of energy later in the day. If cutting caffeine out of your daily routine is not an option, try to cut back.
If you’re like many people that don’t have much of an appetite in the morning, you’re not alone. However, the saying about the importance of breakfast is true. Your body requires fuel and sustenance to function.
Because working in the heat requires more energy, your body requires more fuel. Eating a substantial breakfast gives you the energy to maintain momentum during your shift.
UV rays are incredibly powerful, and can be dangerous to the outdoor forklift driver. Overexposure to the sun can cause heat rash, sun poisoning, and heat exhaustion. Wear appropriate sunscreen on exposed skin and reapply every two hours if you are working in the sun for an extended period of time.
Sunburns and heat exhaustion can still occur in overcast weather, so the same caution should be exercised on a cloudy day.
Follow Forklift Maintenance Schedules
Forklifts need more love in the summer, too. Overheating is common in extreme heat, so it’s important to follow regular maintenance schedules. Knowing basic forklift safety and performing daily forklift inspections will help you avoid a potentially dangerous accident or malfunction due to heat-related damages.
The Forklift Pro takes forklift safety very seriously, and we make certain that the forklifts in our inventory receive extra care in extreme temperatures. We’re happy to give you a tour of our facility and answer any questions you have about our MHE. If you’re looking to buy/sell used forklifts, get in touch with our pros today!