Forklift ergonomics and vibration control

As a warehouse manager, you need forklift operators to take care of their personal health and safety.

Unfortunately, there are a number of things, such as bad practice, surrounding noise, vibrations and unsafe machines, that can have a negative impact.

It’s important to keep health and safety in mind at all times while operating a forklift. That’s why we have some rules of thumb. By following these, your employees can protect their health and minimize any negative effects on their bodies.


Forklift ergonomics: best practice

1) Many forklift drivers operate forklifts all day long. Sitting down for long periods of time can create a wide range of short and long term health issues. To prevent these, operators should step off their forklifts every hour and move around. As well as walking, they should stretch their muscles to ease soreness. Just 2-3 minutes will refresh drivers and help to improve their productivity over each shift.

2) Some of us may like having our wallet or phone in our back pocket, but this forces our spines into an unnatural position while sitting or driving. Operators may not notice this at first, but after a while they will start to feel uncomfortable and ultimately, experience severe backache or injury. Before driving a forklift, every operator should empty their back pocket.

3) All good forklifts have adjustable seats. In order to drive ergonomically, drivers should always adjust the seat to support their body. That means that:

  • they should easily be able to reach the steering wheel, controls & pedals without leaning forward;
  • the backrest should be tilted backwards to an angle of about 100-110°;
  • the armrests, if present, should be at elbow height.

4) In the unfortunate event of an accident, you need to make sure that you have done everything possible to keep the driver, their load and surroundings safe. Compelling everyone to wear a seatbelt can help to prevent major injuries and damage in the warehouse.

5) Encourage operators to use their rear and side-view mirrors when checking their surroundings. This will prevent them from twisting their bodies constantly and keep the spine in a comfortable position.

6) Your operators need to drive safely and comfortably throughout the warehouse, so install mirrors in any area where visibility could be an issue. This will help forklift operators to remain in a natural driving position instead of twisting when trying to look around a corner.

7) Employees must always use steps and handles when entering and exiting a forklift. They should try to always maintain 3 points of contact while facing the cabin and be aware of their surroundings. Greasy floors or other forklifts driving past could be hazardous.

8) When choosing a new forklift, you should check the step-in height. The higher it is, the bigger the strain on a worker’s body, especially if they are entering and exiting the truck frequently.


Forklift vibration control: best practices

1) While driving over uneven terrain, vibrations can occur. If the warehouse floors have potholes or rough terrain, make sure that you address these issues as soon as possible. Driving through potholes or on uneven floors cause heavy vibrations which could harm your employees’ health and damage vehicles.

2) Velocity is an important factor in forklift ergonomics. Higher speeds increase the number of shocks and vibrations, which cause muscles to work harder. This can cause the operator to feel tired much sooner than usual. Tired muscles cause bad posture, and the consequences include sore muscles, aching joints and backaches.

Make sure your forklift operators don’t drive too fast, particularly if the ground is riddled with potholes and uneven surfaces.


How do Cesab machines support ergonomics and vibration control?

It all depends on the type of forklift you’re looking for. All our forklifts come with ergonomic features and vibration control, although specific features vary across different models. For more details please see our products page.

Pallet trucks and stackers provide:

  • an ergonomic tiller arm with simple and easy-to-use command buttons that can be operated by one or both hands;
  • adjustable tiller arm height. This makes the machine adaptable to the size of user;
  • foldable platforms for when the operator needs to drive longer distances. These platforms have a low step-in height to avoid fatigue. For slippery or cold store environments, a special version with an anti-slip grid is available;
  • a low drive unit to maintain maximum visibility.

We equip our reach trucks with:

  • a low step-in height, a hand grip on the front post and a foldable steering column. This means that stepping in and out of the forklift is very easy.
  • a fully adjustable steering column (height, distance, angle), control console (hydraulic commands with fingertip controls), seat and floor plate;
  • wrist supports for the right arm. An optional armrest on the left is available;
  • clean mast and fork carriage design for maximum visibility and minimal head and neck movement;
  • a transitional lift control system completely eliminates shocks and vibrations when lifting or lowering the forks;
  • a 180° or 360° steering system to minimize arm movements while manoeuvring.

Electric counterbalanced trucks are provided with:

  • optimal 360° visibility and intelligent mast design (IMD) to minimize head and neck movements;
  • a low step-in height and wide, open foot step for easy access;
  • a thick rubber floor mat to reduce vibrations and noise;
  • a high visibility LCD dashboard for easy monitoring;
  • optimal fingertip or joystick controls with a fully adjustable armrest;
  • automatic brakes that reduce the strain of manoeuvres;
  • a wide choice of head guard panels and cabins (some with heaters).

Our combustion counterbalanced trucks feature most of the above functions but also come with a full floating engine with 3 anchor points. This helps to to minimize vibration on the seat and steering column.


Ready for a safe drive?

We hope this gives you a guide to safeguarding employee health and safety. Follow these rules to maximize on-site safety and improve ergonomics for you and your colleagues.