How to keep your forklift operators safe in winter weather

13 Dec 2018, by Anthony in Forklift Training News

While forklifts are great for helping you to complete jobs quicker with less physical strain on your staff, they can also be incredibly dangerous to use. In fact, approximately 1,000 UK workers are seriously injured or killed in forklift-related incidents every year, according to the Forklift Truck Association. And, cold and wet weather can have an especially adverse effect on your forklift operators’ safety during the autumn and winter months.

As an employer, it’s your duty to protect the health, safety, and welfare of your workers (HSE), which means you have to reduce the risks they face as much as possible. And, there are some steps you can take to ensure their winter forklift work isn’t as dangerous as it could be. We’re going outline some of the methods you should be using here.

Provide your workers with the appropriate PPE

Under the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992, your staff should have already been given all of the protective clothing and equipment they need to stay safe on the job. But there are times when conditions change, and their gear might need an update. So, it’s a good idea to assess whether your workers have everything they need to limit the risks they’ll face during the winter months.

If your employees are going to be working in particularly cold conditions, you must ensure they have everything they need to stay warm and comfortable. This could include thermal base layers, technical gloves, heavy-duty footwear, and thicker coats.

Visibility can also take a hit in the winter as the days get shorter and your staff have to start or finish some of their shifts in the dark. One of the easiest ways to ensure this doesn’t put your workers in harm’s way is by providing them with sets of high visibility clothing. Zoro is a one-stop shop where you can pick up all of the hi-vis clothing you need, with free next day delivery on orders over £20.

Ensure your worksite is winter-ready

To ensure your workers can travel around your warehouse or site with minimal risk, it’s important that you prepare it for the worst of the winter weather. Of course, cold and wet conditions can cause slip hazards, which will pose a risk to your employees when they’re walking from A to B. And, if you don’t handle the worst of the British weather accordingly, it can prevent your forklifts from getting enough traction on the ground. As you can probably imagine, this could easily put your staff in harm’s way. So, how can you manage the cold and wet conditions to keep everyone safe?

You should always keep a close eye on the weather forecast so, if there’s even a whisper of snow and ice, you can arrange for your site’s outdoor areas to be gritted. If your forklifts often travel in and out of a warehouse, it’s also worth putting down some specialist absorbent mats that will help to prevent puddles and, therefore, reduce the risk of slips.

On top of the poor weather, the shorter hours of daylight that we experience in autumn and winter can mean that your employees will have to spend a few hours a week working in dark conditions. So, you’ll need to prepare your workspace accordingly. Provide extra lighting — and, if you need it for outdoor use, make sure it’s been specifically designed for this. You should also ensure any safety signage is reflective and well-lit, so your staff are always in the know about any hazards they might encounter.

Offer your workers a forklift training refresher

Any of your staff who use forklifts in their work should’ve received adequate training when you hired them, but it’s worth checking whether they need a refresher. You can do this by assessing how they’re doing, or simply asking whether they think this is something that would benefit them.

If you decide that your staff do require further training ahead of operating forklifts in adverse weather conditions, you have a number of options. You could enrol with an external organisation that has its own training site, enlist the help of external instructors who will train your staff on your premises, or arrange for an experienced and certified operator from your own workforce to work as a mentor internally.

Here at Pro Trainers UK, we offer forklift training courses that can help to ensure your workers are equipped with all the knowledge they need to operate their vehicles, whatever the season. So, if you think this is something that would benefit your team, get in touch to discuss your requirements with us.

You have a duty of care to your workers, which means you must take all reasonable steps to keep them safe. Winter can be a particularly dangerous time for forklift operators, and it’s important that you make adjustments each year to reduce the risks they’re exposed to. And, these tips should certainly help you to do just that.


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