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Operating heavy machinery safely is important regardless of the weather conditions. But when drivers have to contend with extreme cold as well as pedestrians, obstacles, other vehicles, and other dangers, it can add up to an accident just waiting to happen.
Operators who are cold are more likely to be distracted than forklift drivers using their vehicles in optimal conditions. So keeping drivers warm isn’t just a comfort issue, it’s also a safety concern.
Here are three ways to increase the warmth of forklift operators driving their vehicles in cold temperatures — whether it is outdoors during winter weather or working in a freezer or refrigerated warehouse.
Bundle Up for Warmth
The first and simplest solution is to provide operators with multiple layers of warm clothing, including jackets, coats, gloves, hats, scarves and other apparel that will help trap natural body heat.
Business owners shouldn’t assume that drivers will show up to work already wearing the appropriate cold-weather clothing. Have warm coats and other items on hand so that operators can always stay warm enough to get their jobs done safely.
It’s important to note, however, that clothing such as masks, scarves or other apparel should never obstruct the view of the operator. Requiring the use of approved safety goggles or glasses can help ensure drivers can always see where they are going, regardless of weather conditions.
Another option is to create a barrier between the operator and the cold temperatures.
Forklift cabin enclosures can be retrofitted to accommodate practically any type of forklift. A thick industrial-strength plastic barrier helps protect the operator from cold temperatures, bone-chilling winds, and other environmental factors that can inhibit their ability to operate the vehicle safely.
Safe, effective, and easy to install, forklift cabin enclosures can convert just about any forklift into a warm, safe environment so drivers can ignore the weather and focus on the job at hand.
Some forklift manufacturers now build vehicles specifically for use in cold-weather conditions. Many of these vehicles include built-in heaters and enclosed cabins, just like a car or truck would have.
If your operators are working in freezers, refrigerated warehouses, or outdoors during the winter months, spending the additional money on a heated forklift can actually save you money in the long term by boosting worker productivity and efficiency.