Are Your Forklifts
Ready for Winter?
Prepare NOW!


With winter rapidly approaching and temperatures are quickly dropping. When working outside and in unheated warehouses operating your forklifts, cold weather can pose several problems.   It is time to think about how changes in weather, can impact the safe operation of forklift winter driving in four key areas.

Your Equipment  –  Visibility  –  Maneuverability  –  Load Handling   

Forklift in snowbankYour Equipment

  • Getting your fleet tuned-up prior to winter will ensure the forklift is ready to tackle the tasks during winter. Double check to make sure the scheduled service visits and inspections are up-to-date for your fleet.  Proper maintenance is the first line of defense for safe operation.
  • Allow your forklift to warm up before you start working with it.  Also allow your hydraulics to warm up to improve their functionality.
  • Make sure your forklift has deep lugged tires for better handling.  
  • Clean the machine before using it. Make sure floor boards are not wet or snow covered to prevent slipping when getting on and exiting the forklift.
  • Check all fluid levels and top off if necessary.

Snow PlowForklifts Visibility 

Along with winter comes a shorter amount of daylight, an increase in fog, rain, hail, snow, mud,  and ice, which can impact visibility.


  • Inspect your facility for adequate lighting.
  • Ensure forklift lights and wipers are fully functional. Remove any snow, ice and mud from the windshield before operation.
  • Wear the appropriate clothing.  When forklift operators are cold they may be distracted from the safe operation of their forklift.
  • Since visibility may be restricted, encourage pedestrians working in forklift areas to wear high visibility clothing.


Forklift Tire chainsChanges to the operating surface (caused by rain, snow, hail, ice) can reduce the maneuverability of forklift winter driving.

  • Be extremely cautious in areas near doorways into buildings which often become wet or icy due to forklift traffic, especially ramps and inclines.
  • Slow down when your stopping distance increases. Increase your following distance with other obstacles.
  • Consider traction devices such as forklift tire chains for outdoor driving as necessary.
  • Use some type of ice melt or sand in icy areas.  Clear excess snow with a snow plow or shovel

Transporting/Stacking/Unstacking Loads

Ice or snow on your forks or on the bottom of your load may cause your load to shift on your forks.

IMPORTANT: Allow your hydraulics to warm up to improve their functionality.

  • Clean any snow or ice off your forks before picking up a load.
  • Reduce your speed when transporting loads, especially when cornering.
  • Don’t tilt your load forward when stacking until the load is almost in position.
  • Beware of icy truck beds which may cause loads to slide off.
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