The Secret to Increased Forklift Operator Comfort
While the comfort of your operators may not always be in the forefront of your mind, uncomfortable operators become fatigued operators and fatigued operators can be a danger to themselves, pedestrians and their equipment. Increasing operator comfort is in the best interest of everyone at your company in terms of safety, productivity and efficiency.
There are several actions that you and your operators can take in order to cost effectively increase operator comfort.
- Reduce Speed
In order to prevent whiplash and increase safety in the workplace, set speed limits for your operators. In areas where no pedestrians are present the maximum speed should be no more than 8 miles per hour. However where pedestrians are present the maximum speed should not exceed 3 miles per hour. These speed limits are a rough guideline and your specific application may require reduced speeds.
When determining the proper speed limits for your facility there are several factors that you should consider including:
- type of forklift
- acceptable stopping distance
- operating conditions (wet floors, rough-terrain, etc.)
- pedestrian traffic
- Stretch Regularly
Taking a moment to stretch can greatly reduce strain on tired muscles. Advise your operators to stretch regularly throughout the day. Here are five stretches your operators can do on the job! Talk to your HR department for other ways to keep your operators active throughout the day.
- Choose the Right Forklift
If your operators must exit the forklift frequently – once every five minutes or more – a standing model should be used. On the other hand, if your operators are standing for more than four hours per shift, we recommend a seated model.
- Add Operator Comfort Attachments
There are several products available for forklift operators that can provide cost effective solutions to keep your operators comfortable. These products range in price and the best solution is dependent on your operators, equipment and application. A few options include:
- Console Trays – provide space for a cup holder, clip holders and documents, pens and other related items. Having these items easily accessible for operators saves time and is more ergonomically friendly.
- Floor Mats – extra padding can provide relief for standing operators and reduce fatigue caused by standing on a hard surface for long periods of time. By absorbing vibrations caused by operating the lift truck, floor mats minimize the risk of back injury.
- Back Foam or Lean Pads – reduce strain on the back for standing operators by offering padded support in place of a hard surface when leaning.
- Visibility Enhancers – There are several types of mirrors and camera systems available to reduce leaning and improve visibility for operators.
- Protection From The Elements – For operating outdoors, there are weather resistant guards such as rain guards, sun guards, all-weather cabs and full cab enclosures. These can be purchased after-market or directly from the manufacturer when you purchase equipment.
- Accessible Controls – To reduce excessive and repetitive arm movement mini-lever hydraulic controls or fingertip controls are a popular option. Adding a knob onto the steering wheel is another alternative, particularly for narrow aisle applications or if sharp turns are frequent.
- Ergonomic Seating – specialized seating protects the neck, head, shoulders, back and legs. One feature of certain seating options is the swiveling base. This increases visibility when carrying loads backwards for operators that would otherwise spend excessive time twisting in their seat. Other features may be arm rests and weighted suspension to reduce fatigue due to arm movement and jolting or vibrating.