Lift Truck Tips: Keep lift truck operators in one place

Standard and optional lift truck features can help the operator move as little as possible, a sure way to increase comfort and productivity.

By ·

Operating a lift truck all day can be physically demanding. With an eye toward improving operator comfort, many lift truck manufacturers have been developing standard and optional ergonomic features to reduce an operator’s stress and strain. Fingertip controls can replace hydraulic levers to minimize upper body exertion. Seat suspension can alleviate lower back pain. But to really boost comfort and productivity, the end-user should work not only to ensure the operator is comfortable in his seat, but that he stays there as often as possible.

According to Nebojsa “Beck” Trajkovic, electric product planning specialist with Toyota Material Handling U.S.A., ergonomics have such an impact on productivity that customers can even build a justification for new equipment based on ergonomics alone.

“Customers understand more than ever how ergonomics play an important role in not only reducing fatigue, but keeping the operator productive,” Trajkovic says. “If you’re trying to keep the operator as comfortable as possible, their amount of movement is directly related.”

With each new generation of lift truck, more ergonomic features become standard, such as fully suspended seats, smaller steering wheels to reduce strain to shoulders, and a lower front cowl, which improves visibility. Improvements in visibility lead to a reduction in movement, since viewing the forks, the load and any obstructions requires less craning, leaning and stretching. Minimizing leaning is not just a good practice, says Trajkovic, it’s an activity monitored by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Leaning out of a truck is a citable offense, says Trajkovic, and thus a clear indicator of a problem.

But some of the most ergonomically friendly aftermarket options for lift trucks, such as integrated scales and fork positioners, are not presented expressly as ergonomic solutions. Scales reduce the need for an operator to exit and enter the lift truck to weigh a load, while the ability to bypass a stationary scale creates more direct routes for load movement. Fork positioners reduce the likelihood of hand injury, speed up productivity, and, again, keep the operator firmly planted in the seat.

For operators in some applications, repeated entry and exit is unavoidable. In this case, there are features that lessen the difficulty of frequent dismounts. In addition to more spacious floor space and a lower step height, lift trucks can be fitted with a swivel-seat option to reduce twisting motions. These seats can also lock at an angle to minimize lower back strain for rear-facing operators.

The justification starts with listening to operators, or providing a channel for feedback. Best of all, says Trajkovic, is that “happy operators will always lead to increased productivity.”


About the Author

Josh Bond, Senior Editor
Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.

Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Latest Whitepaper
Your Guide to Voice for the Warehouse
Is voice a good fit for my operation? How would voice work in my warehouse? With the help of the Vitech Guide to Voice, you can find all the answers to your voice questions in one place.
Download Today!
From the October 2017 Modern Materials Handling Issue
An early adopter, Rochester Drug Cooperative is using robotic piece-picking technology to complement picking of slow-moving items. System report for Rochester Drug Cooperative, Robotic picking and inventory management, Innovative distribution center robotics solutions , IAM Robotics case study
This Month in Modern Materials Handling: Methodical steps into the future
The Warehousing Big Picture: Business as Unusual
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
The State of the DC Voice Market
A lot has changed in the last 10 years, especially in voice technology. This webinar will cover the state of the voice market, review two leading voice solutions and help you gain a better understanding of the options and capabilities available today.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
Rochester Drug Cooperative: Robots ready for work
It’s still early stages, but Rochester Drug Cooperative is proving that mobile robotic piece...
Manufacturing Day: 2,716 events from Hawaii to Alaska to Puerto Rico
Events to be scheduled throughout the month, so the remaining 249,185 manufacturing firms in the...

System Report: Pouch sorter powers Stage’s fulfillment needs
How a hometown department store chain transformed its e-fulfillment processes with pouch sortation...
Cubing and Weighing Equipment: Measure Up
The use of cubing and weighing equipment is growing beyond dimensional weight applications.