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6 Tips for Safely Operating a Forklift Outdoors

Forklifts are useful not only on the warehouse floor, but can also be useful to lift and handle heavy loads and lifting outdoors. Forklifts may be used outdoors on construction sites, docks and container yards, or lumberyards, lifting heavy materials even on the roughest terrain.

While outdoor forklifts are extremely useful, operating a forklift outdoors and on rough terrain presents certain challenges that operating a forklift indoors does not. Here are a few tips to help you minimize risk and safely operate a forklift outdoors.

Stay Alert

Inside or out, it is extremely important to stay focused while operating a forklift. Operators should be constantly checking their surroundings, keeping an eye out for other workers or unexpected surprises. In an outdoor environment, there are even more potential hazards and surprises, meaning you should stay particularly alert to your surroundings. You may encounter wildlife, stray branches, rocks and more when using a forklift outdoors, and need to be prepared in the event that you do.

Check Fluids and Tires

Before stepping foot on the forklift, you should do preliminary checks such as checking tires and fluids. Overinflated tires may explode, and rough terrain filled with rocks and other hazards increases the chances of an incident occurring. On the other hand, under inflated tires may go flat, and the outdoor terrain can make it more difficult to conduct the necessary repairs.

Check fluid levels to ensure that your lift is at top performance. With fluids like oil and antifreeze at the proper levels, you’re more likely to avoid overheating the engine in the summer and freezing it in the winter.

Mind the Terrain

In a warehouse, the terrain does not change from a smooth operating floor. Outdoors, however, it’s a different story. You may be on smooth asphalt one moment, and a rough gravel road the next. The terrain may be even and flat before suddenly becoming uneven or hilly.

It’s important for operators to be mindful of the changing terrain, and prepare to make the necessary adjustments. The driver should practice operating a forklift on the various terrains they expect to encounter, such as dirt or gravel.

Pay Attention to the Weather

Weather can greatly influence the safety of forklift operation outdoors, presenting new challenges for the operator as the terrain changes and the forklift itself is affected. It is essential that forklift operators working outdoors pay attention to the weather, understanding how the conditions will impact their ability to safely operate the lift.

Check the weather forecast before beginning operation, and consider postponing operations in the event of inclement weather. Also be mindful of seasonal weather issues, such as snow or ice in the winter and heat in the summer. Seasonal factors can impact the terrain, the forklift, as well as the driver’s ability to operate.


In a collaborative environment like a warehouse or construction site, communication is key to safe and efficient operations. Even if workers are not working on the same project, it is essential that forklift operators are in communication with their fellow workers, alerting one another to changing conditions and any issues that arise.

Forklifts are powerful, heavy pieces of machinery, and can cause great harm to people if an accident occurs. Communication reduces the risk of such incidents, as an operator can alert other workers as to the lift’s objectives and whereabouts.

Even the most experienced forklift operators face unexpected challenges outdoors and on rough terrain. By following these tips, operators can greatly reduce the risk of an incident occurring, promoting the safety and efficiency of the construction site, dockyard, or other outdoor environment.

Linde at Work: Doffo Winery

Doffo Winery uses a Linde 393-02 Series H25D forklift to transport grapes during the wine making process at their vineyards in Temecula, California.

The Linde H25D is an internal combustion counterbalanced forklift with pneumatic tires capable of lifting loads up to 5,500 pounds. It features Linde’s hydrostatic drive system. With no differential, no conventional service breaks, no mechanical transmission and no clutch packs, this system yields increased durability, efficiency and uptime. This innovative technology is what allows Linde forklifts to load and unload more material in less time, using less fuel and with reduced maintenance requirements compared to other trucks on the market.

With the help of their Linde forklift, Doffo Winery is able to offer a selection of over 25 different wines ranging from cabernet sauvignon to zinfandel. Founded in 1997, it is family owned and operated in addition to being one of the few micro-boutique wineries in the Temecula Valley region. The property includes 15 acres of hand planted vineyards, wine production facilities and a tasting room complete with more than 100 racing and vintage motorcycles from the family’s private collection.

By using meticulous care throughout the winemaking process, owners Marcelo and Damian Doffo are able to produce intense, rich fruit that expresses their commitment toward making world class wines.

This is a great example of the range of applications in which our lift trucks can be used.

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Photo Provided / Select Equipment Sales, Inc.

Sit-Down vs. Stand-Up Forklifts

With so many options for forklifts out there, it can seem like a daunting task to find the right one for your material handling needs. From pallet trucks to counterbalance trucks and everything in between, there are countless forklift options out there, but it is still important to find the right one to suit your warehouse.

One option that you may have trouble with when purchasing a new lift is whether to buy a stand-up or sit-down forklift. Many purchase a sit-down lift because it is the standard, when a stand-up lift may be a better option. Here are some tips for helping you decide between sit-down or stand-up forklifts.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of a sit-down forklift is driver comfort. Many have found that a comfortable forklift operator is a productive operator. Studies have also found that happy employees work harder and are more productive, so keeping your driver happy by keeping them off of their feet may be the right thing for your operation.

While sit-down forklifts keep operators comfortable, stand-up forklifts have a few considerable advantages to the standard sit-down. One very important benefit of a stand-up lift is visibility. Sit-down lifts only allow the driver forward facing visibility, forcing the operator to twist look over his shoulder when going in reverse. A stand-up lift, on the other hand, offers full range visibility no matter the direction the forklift is moving.

Another advantage of the stand-up lift is maneuverability. Stand-up lifts often offer better turning radius and range of motion compared to sit-downs. In smaller spaces and close quarters, the maneuverability of a stand-up lift may be preferable. Industry experts also suggest that drivers are more alert when standing up.

Despite a few advantages a stand-up lift boasts, you may still find that sit-down lifts are right for your operation and its productivity. Switching to a stand-up from a sit-down lift may cost your warehouse resources and training time that you would rather avoid. There is no one size fits all when it comes to forklifts, so focus on finding the right lift for your warehouse and its needs.

Product Spotlight: Linde Series 396

Offered in five different models, the Linde Series 396 forklifts are internal combustion counterbalanced trucks operating on pneumatic tires. It’s most notable feature is the Linde hydrostatic drive system. Known as the ultimate drive system, the hydrostatic transmission is superior to any other in achieving maximum lift truck performance. The customer driven design makes it versatile and cost effective even in the harshest environments. Seamless acceleration with pinpoint accuracy when positioning are a few features that set this truck apart.

Features and Benefits

The Linde Series 396 has a capacity ranging from 13,000 to 17,500 pounds and is best suited for outdoor applications. It can best handle items like lumber, bricks or any other bulky material. But, with multiple attachments available its capabilities can range from paper rolls to construction materials and just about anything in between.

Along with the large load capacity, the Linde Series 396 is one of the safest trucks on the market. The overhead guard protects the operator from falling debris and the Linde Torsion Support System stabilizes and controls swinging loads and dynamic forces—protecting both the operator and the people who may be working around the lift truck. Some other safety features included an auto-set parking brake (when engine is off), dual back-up control system, and high visibility mast for reduced stress and increased operator awareness.

In addition to their innovative technologies, Linde forklifts are well known for their superior ergonomics—and the Series 396 is no exception. The adjustable steering column and adjustable armrest with hydraulic levers make an operator feel comfortable and at ease. A fully suspended seat absorbs shock and reduces operator fatigue. The compartment is extremely spacious giving the operator plenty of room to move around and maintain a high level of comfort from the start of a shift to the end.

Being a versatile and adaptable truck, the Linde Series 396 has many optional features. Some of these include comfort features like heating and air or an air-cushioned seat. Other features include safety or performance structures like internal and external mirrors, road light package, automatic engine shutoff and a full cab with washers and wipers.

Total Cost of Ownership

Safety and comfort aside, the bottom line is that the Linde Series 396 is one of the most economical on the market. This series has extended service intervals and reduces volume of waste oil and used oil filters. The low noise levels and low emissions make it easy to operate in a variety of environments. This lift truck offers some of the lowest maintenance and operating costs with up to 1000 hr. maintenance intervals and no mechanical wear components like service brakes or a torque converter transmission. Other efficiency features include low fuel consumption and low tire wear, which will help the owner financially in the long run.

Overall, the Linde Series 396 results in greater productivity efficiency, lower operator costs and lower labor costs. With this forklift you can handle more loads with less lifts and less people, which will ultimately have a positive effect on your company’s bottom line.

Not sure if the Linde Series 396 is right for you? Read more about finding the right forklift for your operation.

Ergonomics and Warehouse Safety

A warehouse can pose many health and risk factors to its workers if the right safety procedures and standards are not in place. Ergonomics is the practice of designing or refining elements of the workplace to optimize efficiency while decreasing risks to workers health and well-being. In the material handling world, ergonomics is extremely important for keeping workers safe and free of injury.

While many aspects of the warehouse environment fall under worker safety, from forklift safety to proper training, ergonomics refers to those injuries to the musculoskeletal system, often sustained from forceful exertion, sustained awkward postures, repetitive movement and more. When lifting and handling heavy materials in the warehouse, these factors can lead to serious injury and even chronic conditions or disability. Not only do such injuries decrease warehouse efficiency, but they can also cost the organization a substantial amount in worker’s compensation and disability insurance.

It is impossible to remove ergonomic risk factors from the warehouse entirely, but there are ways to reduce these factors and hopefully prevent serious injuries. Here are a few tips for creating a safe ergonomic environment in the warehouse.

One great way to spot ergonomic risks is to simply walk through the warehouse and observe workers as they perform their daily tasks. Take care to notice any awkward or strained positions, or perhaps note that certain tasks are causing employees considerable discomfort. If you discover ergonomic risks, the next step is to work to control and reduce those risks.

OSHA recommends three areas of control for ergonomic hazards: engineering controls, administrative and work practice controls, and personal protective equipment. Engineering controls refers to physical change in the working environment. This may include installing a mechanical device to help with heavy lifting or reducing the weight of a certain load to prevent overexertion. Administrative and work practice controls involves redesigning warehouse processes and procedures. Management may implement more breaks or require multiple people to lift loads over a certain weight. Finally, workers must be equipped with the proper personal protection to reduce risk. From padding to goggles and thermal gloves, administration and management need to require the appropriate protective equipment.

Finally, an extremely important aspect of ergonomic safety in the warehouse is to listen to your employees. If a worker comes to you expressing concerns about conditions or discomfort performing a certain task, do not write them off. Listen and discuss these issues with your workers, and try to find ways to solve any existing problems or to ease discomfort. The more comfortable and safe workers are, the more productive the warehouse will be.

Electrical Safety in the Warehouse

Following safety guidelines is one of the most important aspects of properly running a warehouse. OSHA has clear guidelines in place and a checklist that warehouses can use to ensure the warehouse is running as safely as possible. When managers and employees fail to comply with safety guidelines, conditions in the warehouse can become hazardous, leading to potential injury and even worse.

Electrical safety is an especially important part of the overall safety of the warehouse. The factory floor is full of electrical tools and cords that can pose a serious hazard when not dealt with safely. Here’s what you need to know about electrical safety in the warehouse.

One of the most important things is to make sure that all electronic equipment is properly grounded. Doing so will decrease the likelihood of someone being shocked. But be careful of power cords- make sure they are not blocking aisles or in workers’ path. Falls are one of the most common workplace injuries, and these cords lying around can increase the chance of a fall.

You also need to make sure equipment is in good condition. Cords should not have any exposed fraying wire. Outlets should also be in prime condition, with no exposed wiring or other damage. When it comes to electrical tools, regularly check that they are working properly, conducting preliminary checks and appropriate tests when necessary.

Be sure to keep all electrical equipment away from any type of wetness, and always make sure that power tools are completely powered down when they are cleaned or serviced. The area surrounding electrical cords and equipment should be free of any potentially hazardous materials or conductors, such as water or metal.

And as always, training is an extremely important part of warehouse safety. Electrical safety training should be incorporated into your employees’ training. This may include teaching proper use of tools, alerting workers to the possible hazards that come with working with electrical equipment, and showing them where circuit breakers and electrical panels are located. Workers should never handle electrical equipment until they have received training, as inexperienced or untrained individuals may not be aware of the risks associated with using such tools. Employees working around electrical tools should also be trained in CPR in case of emergency.

These tips are a starting point when it comes to creating a safe and hazard-free warehouse. And while electrical safety is extremely important, warehouse safety includes so much more than just that. If you want to know more about electrical safety in the warehouse, check out OSHA’s checklist.

How to Get Your Forklift Operator Certification

Law requires that employers provide their employees with a safe workplace, and that includes hiring workers that are trained and certified in their field of work, such as operating a forklift. In fact, operating a forklift without the proper training and certification is in violation of federal law. Forklifts are vital tool in the warehouse. But this powerful tool must be handled safely, and only by those who have received proper training and earned their forklift operator certification. Here’s how to get your forklift operator certification.

Rules and regulations for forklift operator certification are stipulated by OSHA. Your company should provide an instructor who offers an OSHA-compliant course. If you decide to conduct the training yourself, you must complete an authorized OSHA trainer course either in the field of construction industry or general industry.

Once training begins, workers must complete two phases. The first phase involves classroom or online instruction, followed by a forklift test. New operators must receive classroom training for 8 hours, experienced operators for 4. Online courses are completed at the individual’s own pace. This phase of training focuses on health and safety information the operator needs to know along with OSHA regulations and the penalties related to them.

After online or classroom training, operators are evaluated by completing an OSHA forklift certification exam. The operator then moves onto the second phase of certification, which involves hands-on training. The training may include completing obstacle courses and utilizing the different controls, ultimately training the operator to work in an equipment and environment-specific setting. Certification requires minimum training of 8 hours of high lifts and 4 hours of low lifts.

After completing the classroom phase, passing the certification exam, and demonstrating competent hands-on skill, the forklift operator may be awarded with his or her certification. The operator must carry their certification card whenever operating a lift, which is valid for three years. After three years, the driver’s performance must be evaluated. Refresher training is only required following an incident or if the driver is found to be operating the forklift unsafely.

Forklifts are powerful tools that can be dangerous when used improperly or operated by someone without training. Not only is having your forklift operator certification required by federal law, it is also essential to the safety and efficiency of the warehouse environment.

Recap: ProMat 2017


The goal for all KION Group companies represented at ProMat was to make a statement. With the largest combined footprint of exhibit space at the show entrance, coordinating signage and aisle lighting directing attendees down KION Boulevard, we achieved that goal.

On day one, we hosted a joint press conference along with Dematic. Gordon Riske, CEO of KION Group, spoke about how far our companies have come and our direction for the future as we leverage our synergies. Scott Watts, executive vice president of Dematic North America, shared how to leverage software and automation to respond to today’s ever-challenging business requirements.

The three closed the press conference by answering questions from members of the media. In their coverage, Materials Management & Distribution magazine wrote “KION stole the show at ProMat.”

If you haven’t had a chance to view, you can watch the replay of our live stream from the press conference on KION North America’s Facebook page.





KION North America made history with the release of five new forklifts at ProMat—the largest product release in both company and material handling industry history.

The Linde Series 1347 is an electric, cushion tire truck powered by either a 36V or 48V battery. The Linde Series 1219 and 1319 are two internal combustion, counterbalanced torque converter trucks. Powered by a Ford 2.5L fuel-injected engine, the 1219 is suited for outdoor applications whereas the 1319 is suited for indoor use. All three trucks feature load capacities ranging from 5,000 to 6,500 lbs.

The Baoli KBD Series features a Kohler Tier 4 Final diesel engine and load capacities up to 7,000 lbs.

Prior to the show, KION NA also introduced the Linde Series 1279—an electric Class I truck with pneumatic tires with a load capacity of 13,000 to 17,500 lbs. Two additional Baoli models and a Linde Class I stand-on electric will be added to the company’s product line later this year.

With these additions to its Linde and Baoli product lines, the company now has a more comprehensive product portfolio of industrial trucks.


Promat 2017 Foto: KIONGROUP/Oliver Lang



On day three of ProMat, KION North America hosted a meeting for its dealer distribution network. In addition to product information, attendees learned about new services including Lithium-ion battery technology and Linde’s fleet management tool—Connected Solutions, and the company’s new retail financing program.

During the meeting, dealers who do not carry other OEM product lines were presented with KION North America blazers in recognition of their dedication and commitment to the company’s mission. Recipients were as follows: Tim Balint of Advantage Materials Handling; Michel Lavoie of Equipment Industriels Bdl, Inc.; Gene Brogan of Homestead Materials Handling; Ed Mauser, Sr. of Industrial Parts and Service; Chris Reynolds of IPW Lift Techs; Garrett Casey of Kaweah Lift; Mark Milovich of Lift Atlanta; and Greg Radonich of Lift Truck Service, Inc.

Afterward, the company hosted a hospitality event at the original Harry Caray’s location—an iconic Chicago establishment—where guests were treated to a meet and greet with Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg. At this event, KION North America awarded their top dealers based on their 2016 performance.


Promat 2017Foto: KIONGROUP/Oliver Lang


Promat 2017 Foto: KIONGROUP/Oliver Lang



To complement our booth display at ProMat, KION North America hosted a product showcase and test drive experience at Illinois Material Handling’s new Bolingbrook location on the final day of the show. Other dealers who attended ProMat, as well as customers located throughout the Chicagoland and Rockford areas, traveled to see the latest in lift truck technology. The electric, LP and diesel-powered trucks forklifts available included those featuring Linde’s patented hydrostatic drive and advanced 80-volt technologies. It was also a special opportunity to drive the new Linde 1411 Series 35,000 lb. capacity lift truck—one of the largest forklifts on the market.




ProMat 2017 attracted more than 950 exhibitors and thousands of attendees from around the world to Chicago’s McCormick Place. Overall, the show was a huge success and major milestone for KION North America.


Tips for Handling Hazardous Materials

It’s no secret that safety should be a top priority in any warehouse. But in warehouses that handle hazardous materials, safety should be an even greater concern for management as well as employees. Hazardous materials include raw materials and finished products, and can be quite dangerous when handled improperly.

These materials are capable of producing harmful effects like fire or a sudden release of pressure that could cause an explosion, or health effects, from burns to chronic effects and organ damage. Additionally, hazardous materials can have harmful effects on the environment. It is important to handle these materials with the utmost caution in order to run a safe and successful warehouse. Here are some tips for handling hazardous materials.

Firstly, every warehouse worker needs to familiarize themselves and follow federal and state regulations concerning proper handling and disposal of materials. These organizations set regulations that ensure hazardous materials are handled safely and without danger to individuals or the environment.

When handling hazardous materials, safe transportation is extremely important. Be vigilant of your surroundings and travel at safe speeds. Faster driving can increase the likelihood for forklift or machine turnover or collision, which hazardous materials could make even more dangerous.

Proper labeling and storage is also an important part of safe material handling, as different materials have different effects and require specific handling. Certain materials also need to be stored separately from others, and storage areas should be dry, cool, and well-ventilated. If you see any damaged containers, mislabeled products, or improperly stored items, report them immediately.

The real key to safe handling of hazardous materials is proper training. Training employees to know about hazardous materials, from how they can be dangerous to avoiding incidents as well as how to respond to emergencies is the surest way to operate a safe warehouse.

These tips are just the foundation for proper handling of hazardous materials. Through familiarization with federal and state regulations as well as the specifics for the materials your warehouse manages, and of course with proper training, your warehouse can safely and efficiently handle hazardous materials. For more tips, check out our 2017 Warehouse Safety Checklist.

Finding the Right Forklift for Your Operation

Most people who run a warehouse are probably aware of the various types of forklifts that are available out there. However, warehouses are not always equipped with the right forklift for their specific material handling needs. With so many options out there, it can be hard to narrow down your options and find the perfect fit. But it is important to find and use the best forklift- or forklifts- for your warehouse operations, as this choice can have a serious effect on the efficiency and operation of your warehouse. Here are some factors you should keep in mind when determining the right forklift for your material handling needs.

Application and Environment

The first questions you want to ask are how and where will the forklift be used? The specifications for your forklift are impacted by the layout and environment of the warehouse in which the lift will be operated. Will it be used indoors or out, on rough or smooth surfaces? You will also want to consider the width of aisles in the warehouse. Forklifts vary in size, wheel type, turning radiuses, etc. and the layout and environment of your warehouse need to be considered when choosing a forklift that will fit your needs.

As far as application, what operations will the forklift be performing? Will it be used to stock items on high shelves or transporting materials over longer distances? The ways in which you utilize the forklift in the warehouse environment will affect the specifications of the appropriate lift. The following factors will go into further detail on these elements of choosing a forklift.

Load Capacity

Load capacity is one of the most important factors in finding the right forklift for your material handling needs. Choosing the correct lift depends on the size and weight of the load. If you choose a forklift with a load capacity lower than you require, you will be left with a useless lift. Think about the heaviest and widest loads your lift will be handling, and choose a lift accordingly. The specifics of the load will also determine what kind of attachments or clamps need to be included with your forklift.


When considering load capacity, you should also consider height requirements for your forklift. Do you have high shelves on which you’ll need to stack materials? What are the height requirements for safely lifting materials onto your shelves? You also need to check the height of the mast when collapsed to ensure that it will fit through doorways and under beams or other fixed structures.

Fuel or Power Source

Forklifts are electrically powered or run on gas or diesel. Fuel or electric, each method has its benefits and drawbacks. Similar to the forklift itself, the right option is also quite dependent on environment. Fuel-powered lifts may be the right choice for outdoor work, as these powerful, reliable machines are faster and can move bigger loads, but require an open area with plenty of ventilation to keep operators and surrounding workers safe.

Electric forklifts work well in small, indoor spaces, working quietly and producing no emissions, but are ill-suited for outdoor operations. Electric lifts have higher initial and maintenance costs and require long periods of time to recharge, but typically have a longer lifespan than fuel-powered lifts.

Laws and Regulations

Regulations and requirements for your warehouse and its operations are determined by both national and local organizations or authorities. Local agencies or government entities may dictate certain requirements and specifications for the forklift you use and operations a lift performs. OSHA also regulates safety regulations and similar specifications. Knowing the requirements from the onset will save you time and money, as adjusting the forklift or fitting it with necessary fixtures later on may become costly.

There are many factors you should consider when purchasing or renting a forklift, but considering these important elements will help put you on the right track to finding the perfect lift for your operational needs. If you have any questions regarding different forklifts and their material handling capabilities, KION North America is happy to help. Visit our website to view our product selector or learn how you can contact us.