How to Operate Forklifts in Winter Conditions

Did you know, that according to the OSHA, each year there are 85 forklift fatalities and over 34,000 serious accidents? OSHA also estimates that almost half of these accidents could have been prevented by better forklift training.

All different types of weather, mean all different types of forklift safety protocols. When you are practicing forklift safety in Dallas, you need to be sure to adjust to the various Texas weather conditions, from extreme heat to icy cold. Now that we are moving into one of the colder parts of the year, you should make sure that you and your team are up-to-date with your knowledge on how to safely operate forklifts in winter conditions.


First, you should make sure that your operators are prepared for the weather elements via their clothes and gear. Ensure that your drivers are appropriately dressed in a warm jacket, waterproof boots, gloves, etc., depending on how severe the weather conditions are. It is also recommended that operators wear clothing with brighter colors for increased visibility. There are three key elements that you should acknowledge when it comes to forklift safety during the winter. As an operator, you should be paying attention to your visibility, maneuverability, and stacking/unstacking.

#1 Forklift Visibility

During various weather conditions, and especially during the winter, forklift operators need to be concerned with their visibility levels. The various aspects in winter that can affect forklift visibility include:

  • Shorter daylight
  • Cloudier days
  • Higher levels of fog
  • Snow
  • Rain
  • Mud
  • Hail
  • Ice
  • Wind

In order to be prepared for conditions with lower visibility, you should:

  • Ensure that your facility has proper lighting
  • Ensure that your forklifts have working lights
  • Ensure that your forklifts have working wipers
  • Remove any debris, ice, or mud from windshields before operating

#2 Forklift Maneuverability

  • While surfaces will be colder, slicker, and more dangerous, it is important to ensure that your forklift is prepared for safe maneuvering in said conditions. To ensure safe maneuvering you should:
  • Prepare your forklift with the adequate equipment such as tire chains when necessary
  • Be cautious when turning corners
  • Be cautious when driving near doorways as they are often icier
  • Be cautious when driving over any sort of slope or bridge
  • Slow down earlier when coming to a stop
  • Increase your following distance
  • Use snow salt or ice melting chemicals in icy areas when necessary

#3 Truck stacking and unstacking

In winter conditions, you should be aware of how the weather will affect your forklift operations. Be on the lookout for ice, snow, or mud on your forks as well as your loads. If items or forks are icy and can lead to shifting and slipping.

  • Before you get moving, you should ensure that your hydraulic system has time to warm up a bit
  • You should also clean off any ice or snow or mud on the forks
  • You should operate at reduced speeds with loads
  • You should wait until the load is almost in position before stacking and avoid tilting forward

Safety should be you and your team’s top priority when working with forklifts and other heavy equipment. Be sure to follow the above tips to keep safe on the job this winter. Ace Equipment is a trusted forklift company in DFW that can help you with all of your forklift needs. If you have questions about safety, maintenance, rentals, or sales, contact us today.