forklift precautions

be prepared for colder weather

With cold weather come additional hazards for forklift operation. During the winter season we must stay alert to factors such as temperature, snow, sleet, ice, etc.


Outside is cold. Inside is warm. For a forklift operating in both areas, these changes in temperature will cause condensation to form on the forklift. Operators entering and exiting the forklift must watch for slippery steps and handles to avoid slips and falls.

Shoveling snow and salting pavement with ice is vital when forklifts perform outside. Not only can an operator slip and fall, most forklifts are not built to drive on these surfaces. Heavy loads and fast speeds increase the risk for an accident.


Electric forklifts face as much as a 25-50% decrease in cycle times during cold weather. The harsher temperature affects the battery’s electrolyte, causing it to thicken and struggle to achieve the chemical reaction needed to power the forklift. Equipment powered by LP fuel is not immune; it is affected when the battery to its engine is weakened. For gas and diesel forklifts, cold temperatures produce hard starts and require more fuel to operate. If a tank is low on fuel, condensation can form inside, causing the forklift to sputter or stop.

For all forklifts, freezing temperatures thicken their oil, similar to the consistency of honey. This will affect hydraulic-powered features, lowering the amps and causing functions to slow down.


Forklifts can generate dangerous levels of carbon monoxide that hang in the air like a toxic cloud. Closed windows and dock doors decrease ventilation and put employees at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. Testing air quality and forklift emissions is a cost-effective step to ensure your employees stay healthy.

Employees should dress in layers to prepare for changing temperatures and decrease the risk of frostbite. It is also important for each person to pay attention to body signals that tell them to slow down or take a break. Similar to forklifts, cold temperatures cause our bodies to use more calories and energy.

Looking for cold-weather options and solutions for your forklifts? Call Thompson & Johnson today to speak to an equipment specialist or fill out a Customer Request Email Form above! 

Got Questions?

If you have a question on this or any topic related to safety with your forklift, give our resident expert, Dave Bennet, a call or fill out the request form.