Tips for Using Your Forklift to Remove Snow

Photo by Clement Bucco-Lechat (via Wikimedia Commons)

Photo by Clement Bucco-Lechat (via Wikimedia Commons)

As the first winter snowstorms hit many of the northern parts of the US, it’s time once again to start thinking about how to maximize use of your forklift fleet by making them work double duty as a snow plow.

Forklifts have an advantage over other types of industrial equipment when it comes to removing snow. They are compact, powerful and maneuverable. And many models are designed to operate efficiently both indoors and out.

Plus, the cabins of most forklifts can be enclosed to protect operators from cold, wet winter weather. Some even have built-in heaters and other features to improve driver comfort.

How Forklift Snowplow Attachments Work

Forklifts can be fitted with a number of different snowplow attachments — some of which are high-tech while others are more basic.

Snowplow attachments for forklifts typically have sleeves that slide over the vehicle’s forks. Some models have hydraulics that the operator can use to change the angle of the plow from the cabin’s control panel.

Others have an angle that can be moved manually. This requires the operator to leave the vehicle and adjust the angle of the snowplow in the field.

Still other low-tech forklift snowplow attachments have a fixed angle. While these types of forklift snowplow attachments are more affordable, they do require the operator to stop the vehicle, get out, completely detach the plow, flip it upside down, and reattach it in order to change the angle from one direction the other — a potentially messy, time-consuming job when performed in the middle of a snowstorm!

The plow itself can be lifted and lowered simply by moving the forks up and down.

Snow Removal Strategies

Removing snow from a parking lot, sidewalks or other areas generally requires a snow plowing strategy. Simply pushing the snow in every direction will make the task last longer and is inefficient.

The first thing to remember is that once the operator pushes the snow off the surface, it’s probably going to have to stay piled up for many days or even weeks to come. So you want to avoid piling snow in front of doorways, entrances, or areas that need to be accessed by people or vehicles.

The best approach is to use the angles of the forklift snowplow attachment to push the snow to the perimeters of the area being cleaned. For example, if you are clearing an 8-foot sidewalk, angle the forks so the snow is pushed to the left during the first pass. Then turn around and push the remaining snow o the right during the second pass.

Shovel and Salt

After clearing most of the snow with your forklift snowplow attachment, it’s usually a good idea to finish removing the last of the snow with a good, old-fashioned snow shovel — especially on public walkways.

Finish the job by spreading a temperature-resistant salt over the surface area to prevent the residual moisture from freezing. This will prevent slip and slides.

Keep your forklift snowplow attachment handy from late November through early March so you can access it when needed.

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