Many jobs within the pallet industry become harder to perform in the cold and inclement weather winter is known for, but forklift operating can be especially challenging. Thus, it is important for management to repeat and re-acquaint staff with safety measures when the cold and snowy weather hits.
What are the specific challenges forklift operators face during winter? There are several:
- Decreased concentration – The adverse conditions that extreme cold and wind create tend to distract forklift drivers from the task at hand because their attention is split between their job and the discomforts of their surroundings. Because of this discomfort, something else can become a problem.
- Hurry – It’s only natural that people working outside in winter weather would want to perform any tasks at hand quickly and efficiently, so they can get back inside where it’s warm and dry. But hurrying along forklift work is not a good strategy for safety. Any kind of driving in winter requires slowing down and paying more attention, not speeding and hurrying.
- Fatigue – Short, gray days make everyone more tired, forklift drivers included. Tired drivers are not better drivers.
The solutions to the above problems involve discipline and planning. It can be difficult to motivate your workers to try harder under less pleasant circumstances, but injuries and fines are not good outcomes either – for your workers or your company. But there are steps your forklift operators can take to perform better in winter.
First, make sure to emphasize the importance of getting enough rest at home. Tired operators cannot perform as well. Second, dressing for the weather is critical. Forklift drivers work both inside and outside, so layering clothes is a good strategy for dealing with the fluctuating temperatures they experience. In extreme cold, wearing polypropylene underclothing can make a real difference in staying warm and comfortable. Operators who work in the dark should also wear high visibility clothing so other drivers and operators can clearly see them when they are on the job.
Third, make sure to communicate your expectations to your workers and periodically refresh their training. Refresher training courses generally only take one day to complete, and experts recommend that forklift operators retake them every three to five years. These training courses will address issues like load safety, environmental awareness, and machinery maintenance and will give forklift operators a chance to ask questions or become acquainted with any new safety guidelines.
The pallet business depends on pallets and a focused, adept workforce. Winter poses a prolonged, strenuous challenge to the latter. Before winter hits for good, check in with your forklift operators and highlight the importance of performance safety once again.
By: Mitchell Kamps