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How To Improve Forklift Operator Ergonomics and Safety

How do you improve forklift operator ergonomics and safety?

  1. Ensure a safe entrance and exit
  2. Stretch throughout the day
  3. Adjust the seat
  4. Reduce vibrations
  5. Provide task rotations
  6. Repair problematic areas in the worksite

Factors such as prolonged sitting, repetitive movement, and vibrations can put forklift operators at risk of strain, discomfort, and other physical problems. Anyone that needs to spend a majority of their time sitting in the forklift will feel sore and stiff.

These problems can lead to injuries, which can affect productivity on the work site. That’s why employers need to know how to improve forklift operator ergonomics.

Although many people think of ergonomics as something that has to do with posture, that’s not what it is only about. Ergonomics is actually a science that involves fitting a workplace to the user’s needs. Its whole aim is to improve productivity and efficiency and also reduce discomfort.

If you’re interested in learning how to improve forklift operator ergonomics and safety, keep on reading to learn more!

Ensure A Safe Entrance And Exit

To reduce the risk of slipping and falling, forklift operators need to keep in mind the importance of the 3-point contact rule. When entering or exiting the forklift, 3 points of contact should be maintained with the forklift until on the seat or standing on the ground. This could be done by putting one hand and two feet, or two hands and one foot.

Other than that, it is important to always face the cab when getting in and out. Before entering and exiting, forklift operators should observe for slip and fall hazards. And lastly, jumping from the forklift is unsafe, and should never be done.

Stretch Throughout The Day

Forklift operators should take frequent breaks, to reduce the risk of strain. Stretching before, during, and after each shift can help relieve tension in the body — which can help minimize the risk for musculoskeletal disorders. Even 30-second stretches that involve the hands, shoulders, and neck are helpful during micro-breaks.

Adjust The Seat

Adjust The Seat

Since forklift operators are required to spend a majority of their time on the forklift, having a well-adjusted seat that promotes the right posture and makes driving easier is helpful. Before operating the forklift, the seat can be adjusted, so controls can be easily reached.

If possible the lumbar support should be adjusted to align with the lumbar curve. In addition to this, the armrest height should match the elbow height. Employers should look for an ergonomic operator seat that can be tilted, swiveled, and also has a weighted suspension. The seat should also be replaced when it’s worn because it would not be able to provide the support the operator needs.

Reduce Vibrations

Vibration causes muscles in the body to work harder. Forklift operators exposed to vibrations can easily get fatigued quickly. Other than that, fatigued muscles can also encourage bad posture, which can be a cause of musculoskeletal injury.

To prevent this, it’s essential to slow down because going faster can increase shock and vibration. It might get the job done more quickly, but the consequences can be problematic. Harsh acceleration and braking are one of the reasons for whiplash. Speed limiters and restrictions should be placed throughout the workplace.

Other than this, it’s also helpful to avoid traveling over uneven terrain. An anti-vibration seat cushion may be helpful too. Other than that, suspension systems can also reduce vibrations.

Provide Task Rotations

Physical repetition is one of the risk factors for strain and injury. One of the examples is carpal tunnel syndrome, which causes numbness, tingling, and pain in the hand. But repetition cannot be avoided with the work of a forklift operator, which involves doing the same movements.

One way to reduce the risk of strain and injury associated with physical repetition is to provide task rotation for the workers.

Repair Problematic Areas In The Worksite

Repair Problematic Areas In The Worksite

Areas in the worksite that causes the forklift to travel unevenly and the operator to jolt should be repaired. Otherwise, this would only cause the operator physical discomfort. For example, ramps should fit correctly and old and rigid floors with potholes should be fixed. The goal is to allow the operator to keep all four wheels of the forklift steadily on the ground and minimize any discomfort.

Key Takeaway

Learning how to improve forklift operator ergonomics is beneficial for the comfort and the safety of people on the worksite. Operator training, properly maintained worksites, involvement of management, and the design of the forklift have a significant influence on ergonomics. The right forklift, equipped with ergonomic features, will be beneficial.

If you’re interested in purchasing a forklift, we can help you here at Multico. We can supply you with forklifts from Clark Material Handling Company, one of the most reliable and trusted brands for this equipment. We can help you choose the right forklift for your needs. Send us a message to learn more.

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