One thing they don’t teach in an OSHA forklift training video is how to clean a forklift. It is an important part of the job, but it doesn’t happen as often as it should. The environment that a forklift works in is dirty. When used outdoors, a forklift will kick up dirt and debris while doing its job. It is exposed to the elements and attracts dirt and grime like a magnet. Gas-powered lift trucks give off emissions that turn things black over time, including itself.
Like all machines, forklifts need a good cleaning from time to time. A car or truck gets a good cleaning regularly, and the same should apply to a forklift. Keeping it clean will extend the life of the truck and help it perform better. Regular cleaning forces the operator to examine parts of the truck that are overlooked.
There is going to be dirt, dust, debris, and all kinds of trash flying around while cleaning. Take some time and put on some personal protective equipment before starting. Wear goggles and gloves at a minimum, and if they are available, slip on some rubber boots. There could be hazardous materials on the machine depending on the work environment it’s in, so cover your skin to avoid preventable injuries.
Get Rid of Trash
Some forklifts have a console for storing pens, paper, and small tools. They are usually on one side of the lift so the driver can grab what’s needed with one hand while in transit. Clear out all the garbage that accumulates over time. If you don’t need it to do your job, get rid of it.
Use a Power Washer or Air Hose
Only use a power washer if the lift is gas-powered. You don’t want to spray water on an electric forklift. If you have an electric truck, use an air hose to blow things off. Wipe off all the dirt you can by hand first, starting at the top and working your way down. After you do that, get the power washer out and get to work. Clean off all the built-up, caked-on dirt until you can’t see it anymore. Take some time for the details too. If there is grease in spots that it shouldn’t be, such as the steering wheel, controls, or seat, clean it off. Don’t forget the windshield, if there is one. Being able to see through that is pretty important.
Let it Dry
Let the forklift dry completely before operating it again. Wipe it down with a clean cloth and make sure you get all the cracks and crevices. Use an air hose after that and blow out those nooks and crannies to make sure no water is left. Dampness on the machine could damage internal parts. The ideal thing to do is wash the truck at the end of a shift so that it can air dry over several hours.