Summer Safety Tips for Forklift Drivers

for forklift drivers

The summer is a bustling time for warehouses. And when the heat rises, the risk of injuries on the job skyrockets for those who drive forklifts around the warehouse all day long. Along with the heat, summer also sees increased orders and additional hours for warehouse employees.

Mix the heat with all that extra legwork, and now the potential for on-the-job injuries spike astronomically. As a matter of fact, we recently covered the topic of on the job heat related illness incidents in another post. Check it out, here.

Furthermore, on the job accidents not only cause a lot of pain and suffering but they can also cripple an entire business. The cost of worker’s compensation claims is rising, and more companies are being tasked with upholding much stricter regulations as a result. Additionally, the insurance companies are following suit and rising the cost of insurance protection when a business safety record is anything less than stellar. 

As we mentioned, warehouse forklift drivers are some of the employees who are at the highest risk for accidents related to the summer heat.

So, in this blog post, we will be taking a look at how the summer heat significantly affects warehouse forklift drivers. While we are at it, we will also drop a few tips for all the forklift drivers reading along!


How does Summer Heat Impact Forklift Drivers in Warehouses?

Manufacturing and distribution warehouses are not known for their superior air conditioning systems.

With the average warehouse stretching out over thousands of feet, keeping them cool during the extreme summer season is a challenge that all warehouse managers deal with each month. That is, once they get over the astronomical electric bill. On average, the internal temperature of most warehouses and distribution centers in the United States will rise more than 10 degrees from late May till early September. 

That doesn't seem like a drastic change, at first. But factor in poor circulation, constant movement, and hot air blowing in from open receiving dock doors, and you see how it takes a toll on the human body!

As the ambient temperature rises, sweating and increased blood circulation is elevated. When the body sweats, it loses quite a lot of its electrolytes. When the electrolytes become depleted, dehydration sets in. And as we all know, dehydration often leads to harsher results such as heat stroke, loss of concentration, and in some cases, fatalities. 

This type of warehouse environment can be especially dangerous for forklift drivers. The reason we are targeting forklift drivers specifically is that they are often overworked.

See, when people think about the forklift drivers, they usually picture someone sitting in a piece of machinery, not needing to really exert any physical energy. But, therein lies the problem!

Because they are overworked, they often spend the majority of their time moving in and out of the warehouse. They often don't take enough breaks because they feel as if they can keep going since they are only sitting. It's a dirty little trick that our brains play on us. Physical exertion is not the only thing that can harm us. It is the prolonged exposure to those elements that do them the most harm. Even worse if they are working in a manufacturing warehouse equipped with a hardening blast furnace.

And since forklift drivers are exposed to the heat for extended periods, they are the most at risk.


Summer Safety Tips for Forklift Drivers

With the increased temperatures and volume of business, the threats and potential of accidents while driving a forklift are elevated. That being said, there are a few things that all forklift operators can do to reduce the potential of accidents. 


Maintain Hydration

Anyone who drives a forklift understands the importance of maintaining a clear head.

Warehouse workers from pickers, to inventory specialists, can pop out from nowhere and right into the path of a moving forklift. Boxes and pallets might spill into the aisles, just asking to be crushed. And then the rising temperatures inside can cause its own set of issues.

To navigate all of these potential daily occurrences, forklift drivers must maintain their focus. In order to do that, they have to stay well-hydrated. Yes, dehydration, more often than not, leads to dehydration.

As a general rule of thumb, you should drink at least 1-liter of water every two hours. This amount is enough in most conditions to keep you hydrated enough to perform your job safely.

And when in the forklift, always keep a bottle of water handy.


Take Your Breaks on Time

When it gets busier during the summer, the desire to skip a few breaks in order to finish tasks ahead of time is quite alluring.

However, doing so could lead to a potential accident. Increased temperatures simply drain your body quicker, even if you maintain proper hydration. This means you need to take your breaks on time, to let your body relax and cool down a bit. 

Heat exhaustion is a very real thing. If you start to feel dizzy, queasy, or unbalanced, it is time to get out of the forklift and under a fan.


Final Thoughts

Safety for forklift drivers is no joke. Just a few more minutes spent in the heat can easily result in serious bodily injury. And just because you are in a seat all day long doesn't mean you are exempt from heat related issues. Unless of course, you have an air-conditioned forklift. In which case, we want to hear about it!

Looking to put better safety measures in place for your forklift drivers? Reach out to Redwood Logistics today and let us show you how to go about it!