‘Do I Need to Clean My Forklift?’

AllisChalmers-KalmarThe safe and efficient operation of your forklift require that the vehicle always is in optimal working condition. But does that including washing your forklift the way you would your car or pickup?

It all depends on what you mean by “washing”.

Cleanliness and Safety

Generally, a neat and orderly forklift will be safer for operators — especially if multiple drivers are using the same vehicle over different work shifts.

Operators should be required to remove any trash or other materials from the cab at the end of every shift. Debris left in the cab could potentially roll around on the floor and possibly get stuck under the pedals or gearshifts used to operate the vehicle.

Drivers also should inspect the interior and exterior of their forklifts at the beginning of their shift to look for potential hazards. Any trash, debris or other materials should be removed and disposed of before beginning their shift.

Mud and Dirt

If the forklift has been used outdoors and has become covered with mud, dirt and other debris, it’s a good idea to wipe down exterior parts at the end of the shift before using the vehicle again.

In some instances, dirt, rocks, and other hazards can become stuck in the chains or gears that operate the mast and fork mechanisms, causing a potential hazard and possibly resulting in permanent damage to your forklift. That’s why it’s always a good idea to require operators to fully inspect their vehicles at the beginning and end of every shift.

Some businesses that frequently use their forklifts in rough terrain or muddy outdoor locations — such as construction sites — will actually set up “forklift wash” stations that include a hose or power washer and other supplies for cleaning and drying forklifts between jobs.

Food, Beverages, and Smoking

Eating and drinking in the cab of the forklift should be prohibited. It can distract the driver, reducing critical awareness and possibly leading to collisions with people, property or materials.

Smoking is now prohibited in most indoor environments. It also should be discouraged, if not outright banned, among forklift operators while they are behind the wheel. Lighting cigarettes or fumbling for matches or lighters is another distraction and the smoke can inhibit the operator’s line of sight.

Then there’s the question of what to do with the lit cigarette butt once the driver has finished smoking it. Throwing a lit butt into paper or other dry materials is an obvious fire hazard.


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