For most in the material handling industry, when considering safety guidelines when operating a forklift, we often think of specifics of running the truck. For instance, how to safely maneuver it, ensure the operator is protected, as well as others around, and that the truck is being used properly. However, looking at the environment the truck is being used in can be just as important. Extreme hot and cold temperatures can not only affect the truck, but also the operator. Below we highlight tips on operating a forklift in the sun – a topic that may get overlooked.
Build a tolerance for working in the heat
As with anything extreme, building one’s tolerance to withstand hot temperatures while operating a truck is key. If an operator is not well versed in working in certain temperatures, he/she can put themselves at risk for injury. Heat takes a toll on the body and can often fatigue and disorient a person if exposed to the sun for too long. Operating a truck at the same time can have dire consequences. Establishing a schedule for increasing one’s time in the sun, while maneuvering a truck, will better protect the operator.
Guard yourself against the sun
If you must work in the sun, it is extremely important to guard yourself against any additional negative effects of the sun’s rays. Wearing clothing that covers most of your body will help protect your skin and decrease the likelihood of burns. Also, shielding your face with a hat will aid in protecting your face as well as decreasing glares from the sun to help prevent vision impairment. Above all else, make sure you are applying sunscreen before going out in the sun and reapply later in the day if you notice you have perspired a lot.
As obvious as it may sound, making sure you stay hydrated while working in the sun is imperative. When working in high heat temperatures, the body is continuously perspiring, which is the body’s automatic response to cooling down the body. However, that water loss needs to be replenished. Make sure to hydrate with water and not caffeine, even if you feel like you need a pick me up. Caffeine can lead to additional body fluid loss. Taking regular breaks to re-hydrate and refresh will be extremely beneficial to the forklift operator.
Take scheduled breaks
Make sure you are maximizing all scheduled breaks by going inside during those times. Taking a break from the truck, while still outside does not allow your body to cool down and take the respite it needs. To continue working in the sun, your body needs to have frequent opportunities to recharge. During this time, monitor yourself for signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke. There are several signs and symptoms to be aware of according to WebMD.
Some symptoms of heat exhaustion
- Excessive thirst
- Muscle aches and cramps
- Confusion or anxiety
Some symptoms of heatstroke
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Rapid heart rate
- Dry skin
- Profound sweating
Learn more common heat illness signs and symptoms.