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Winter Weather On the Way: Get Your Outdoor Material Handling Equipment Winter Ready

Lets face it, New England has some rough winters, they can be hard on your personal vehicles, but also your outdoor material handling equipment. When preparing your equipment for winter you want to keep in mind heavy snowfall, ice accumulation, and wet, slippery conditions, below zero temperatures and limited visibility.  To prevent weather-related incidents or injuries, it’s recommended that you take the following steps for preparing your forklift for winter: 


Outfitting Your Forklift   

You want to make sure that your forklift is able to operate in the wet, slippery conditions created by snow and ice. All outdoor forklifts should have pneumatic tires, which provide greater traction and grip when compared to cushion tires that are better suited for indoor operations.   

It’s also a good idea to routinely plow and sand your yards to reduce the potential impact of snow/ice accumulation.  Fortunately, this may be accomplished with specialized forklift attachments that allow you to plow or shovel snow using the forklifts on hand.    

Operator Training 

It is essential to educate your operators on how to manage the challenges posed by the winter weather. It is essential that your operators follow these steps before, during and after each shift:  

Before the Shift:  

  • Conduct a proper pre-shift inspection of the forklift. Record and report any issues. 
  • Check the weather outside and make sure to adjust driving habits to current weather conditions. 
  • Avoid cold starts by allowing the forklift to properly warm up before operating – this is important for both the engine and the hydraulics.  

During the Shift:  

  • Slow down in the snow and drive carefully.
  • Take steps to maintain visibility by preventing the accumulation of snow on windshield
  • Be sure to stop working if conditions deteriorate 
  • Avoid short run times.  Engines tend to run a richer fuel mixture during the first 20 minutes of operation.  During this time, it is possible for water vapor to accumulate in the engine oil and exhaust system as temperatures are insufficient to cause evaporation.   


The extreme cold temperatures and added moisture during winter weather create a number of additional maintenance issues for any outdoor forklift.  To reduce these issues, operators should perform routine maintenance tasks and inspections, paying particular attention to the mast, electrical and fuel systems.  Make sure your operators are trained to spot and report issues as they develop and report them to our Service Department as this will help reduce downtime and repairs costs.