Let’s face it, forklifts work just as hard as you do. Susceptible to scratches and dents, there will come a time when your forklift will need to be re-painted. But before you grab your sprayer and paint, you should be aware of OSHA regulations for painting a forklift. Here are some suggestions and guidelines for the job.
There are several precautions OSHA requires when a forklift is painted. OSHA standard 1910.178 states that forklift labels and nameplates must be kept readable. To paint over these markings would make a forklift unsafe to operate. Any decals or directions must be kept clear of paint. The same OSHA standard also requires that only noncombustible agents and solvents with a high flash point (100 degrees F or higher) be used on forklifts. This standard also mandates fire hazard precautions based on the flash point of the agent used on the forklift and that the user take necessary precautions based on the agent’s toxicity. The user must also ventilate the area and wear personal protective equipment.
OSHA’s 1910.94 standard mandates spray-finishers isolate their operations in spray rooms apart from business operations. The 1910.94 standard must coordinate with the 1910.178 standard when spraying occurs as only electrically powered industrial trucks can be used in areas where combustible particles are normally in the atmosphere. Furthermore, gasoline, diesel and liquefied petroleum gas powered forklifts must not drive through paint or spray rooms. These types of forklifts don’t have the same spark-limiting safeguards that electrical fittings do on EX forklifts.
Before you begin painting, park the forklift in an area that’s not only apart from business operations, but a place where you won’t have to move it again until you’re finished painting. Start by cleaning the machine. Undo the battery terminals, wrapping them with tape to prevent them from earthing out. You’ll need to scrape away the grease from the inside of the runners of the mast, usually contaminated by dust and grit. Some people use thinners to degrease and clean while others use steam cleaners for the whole machine. Whatever method you prefer, you’ll want to remove the forks and lower the fork holders onto pallets. Doing it this way avoids having to mess with the hydraulics.
Strip the paint off the inside runners where the fork-holders move and put painter’s tape on the inside where the fork guide runs. Remember to tape off other areas like decals and directions that must be kept clear of paint. With the prep work out of the way, you’re ready to paint.
Some opt to degrease and paint the fork-holders. But you can just clean them for re-assembly. Forks should be cleaned but they don’t need grease. Just grease the parts of the forks that run along the fork-holders. Once the paint is dry, remove any tape and clean any other neglected areas. Keep in mind that a forklift may not be cleaned this extensively for another five or ten years. It’s best to clean as much as you can while it’s out of use.
Cleaning and re-painting can breathe new life into your forklift. By following these OSHA regulations and doing the necessary prep work, you can continue normal business operations while giving your forklift the TLC it deserves.