Can Electric Forklifts Operate Safely in the Rain?
We often receive questions about operating an electric forklift in various weather conditions. Because these forklifts rely on complex electrical components, it is important to know when and where you can run your electric forklift.
Three frequently asked questions we receive about using electric forklifts in the rain are:
- Are electric forklifts able to operate in the rain?
- How waterproof are electric forklifts?
- What safety precautions should I take in the rain?
Are electric forklifts able to operate in the rain?
While some electric forklifts cannot operate outdoors (especially in the rain), many more are designed to withstand light to moderate rain. Jungheinrich forklifts, for example, have no problem operating in rainy weather. You should always check the IP code of your forklift to ensure that it is safe to operate outdoors. More about IP codes next.
How waterproof are electric forklifts?
The best way to tell if your forklift is able to operate in the rain is by looking at the forklift’s International Protection (IP) code, sometimes referred to as Ingress Protection Markings. The IP rating is a system designed to signify how well a machine withstands solid particulates and liquids. Read our blog post, A Quick Guide to Forklift IP Codes, for more information. Every forklift has an IP code that follows the pattern ‘IPXX’ with the first X denoting its solid protection level and the second X denoting its liquid protection level. Any forklift that is rated IPX4 and higher is capable of operating outside while it is raining.
The solid protection level ranges from 0 to 6, with zero indicating the forklift has no protection against contact from any size object, and six signifying that the machine is completely dust proof. Similarly, the liquid protection level ranges from 0 to 8. Zero indicates the machine has no protection against water, and eight means the machine can be submerged over three meters of water without sustaining any damage.
For example, the Jungheinrich forklifts have been rated IP54 for years. This means that the forklifts are dust protected (5) and safe from splashing water (4), similar to what you would see during a rainstorm. DSM&T, Inc. has a great chart that breaks down all of the IP ratings, and what they mean for your machine.
What safety precautions should I take in the rain?
Once you have confirmed that your forklift is able to operate in the rain, it is important to have procedures set up to keep your forklift operators safe during inclement weather. Because it is more difficult to operate a forklift in the rain, you should follow these tips to keep your team safe.
Ensure Adequate Visibility
Visibility should be a top priority in all weather conditions.
- Use your lights and horn to help avoid incidents in the rain if you can’t see.
- Make sure all safety lights operate.
- Replace necessary bulbs if working in low-visibility conditions.
Know the Variances of the Forklift’s Operation
It will be harder to maneuver when operating a forklift in the rain, so you should take the necessary precautions when driving in the rain.
- Go slow to avoid accidents. The brakes may not respond immediately, and the forks will be slick.
- If the ground is icy, install forklift chains to provide a solid grip.
- Close all covers to prevent water from entering the forklift and creating a potential hazard.
Wear Appropriate Rain Gear
Another great way to protect your forklift operators (and keep them healthy and comfortable) is to make sure they are wearing the right gear.
- Wear waterproof jackets and pants.
- Wear non-slip boots with treads to help prevent falls.
- Wear uniforms or vests with reflective tape to stand out in limited visibility.
You do not have to let the weather limit when you can operate your electric forklift. If you have additional questions regarding electric forklifts, please call 888.EQDEPOT or request more information today!