How to safely recharge or refuel a forklift
1. How to safely refuel a forklift
No matter the fuel, the forklift operator should ALWAYS:
Turn off the engine before refueling and keep open flames, sparks, etc. away from the forklift.
If your forklift runs on LPG, a type of fuel which stands for liquefied petroleum gas, here are some safety tips for refueling:
- Wear safety glasses or face shield when changing tanks along with gloves. LPG is at -44 degrees when release into the air so burns are possible.
- Exchange cylinders only in designated locations.
- Make sure the engine is off and the fuel-isolating valve is shut before disconnecting the cylinder.
- Position the cylinder so the safety relief valve is facing up
- If there’s a leak, report it immediately.
If your forklift runs on diesel, here's how to refuel it safely:
- Turn off the engine and apply the parking brake. Park the forklift in a level position.
- Remove the fuel cap slowly to release any pressure buildup.
- Insert the fuel nozzle into the tank and secure it in place. Stop fueling when the tank is about 90% full.
- Once the tank is full, remove the nozzle and replace the fuel cap. Wipe up any spills or drips.
- Since fuel can damage skin, operators should wash their hands after refueling
- If a forklift operator notices any leaks, they should stop refueling immediately and report the issue to a supervisor.
2. How to safely charge an electric forklift
Electric trucks: Safely recharging flooded lead acid batteries
If your forklift runs on batteries, like flooded lead acid batteries, you need to follow some special steps to recharge them safely. These batteries take a long time to charge and cool down, so they have a specific schedule: 8 hours of work, 8 hours of charging, and 8 hours of cool-down time. Since these batteries can release gases while charging, it's important to have a special area with good ventilation for charging them.
Make sure your forklift operators follow these best practices for safe lead acid battery charging:
- Wear PPE (safety glasses, gloves, and an apron) to protect from acid spills and splashes when moving or watering batteries.
- Remove the battery from the truck before charging.
- Please note that if you are unable to remove the battery for charging that the battery compartment or hood should be left open to allow gases to escape.
- Use the correct charger for the battery.
- Don’t use a cracked battery or charger. Report these to a supervisor right away.
- Use the pallet jack or other mechanism provided to move the battery from truck to charger and back.
- Make sure the battery is securely fastened before operating the forklift.
- Top off the battery cells with distilled water after charging.
Electric trucks: Safely recharging lithium-ion batteries
Some electric forklifts are powered by lithium-ion batteries. These batteries can be opportunity charged and the battery stays in the truck during charging. Operators should be trained on how and where lithium ion powered forklifts can be charged.
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