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Forklifts lack the sophisticated suspension and shock absorber systems that cars and trucks have, so forklift drivers feel every bump and jerk. All of that can take a toll on their health, specifically their lower back.
Proper Lumbar Support
The purpose of providing lumbar support is to achieve optimal seating position for ergonomics. The correct seating position provides support to three areas of the body:
- The Pelvis
- The Lumbar Vertebrae
- The Upper Body
Supporting these three areas of the body is essential to avoiding pain and allowing operators to spend longer hours behind the wheel of their vehicles without distress.
Forklift seats that lack proper lumbar support can aggravate muscle activation, put more tension on ligaments, increase pressure on the discs between the vertebrae, and increase discomfort.
Forklift Seat Ergonomics
Everybody is built differently. So for forklift seats to be comfortable, they need to be adjustable. At a minimum, you should be able to change the seat distance to accommodate different leg lengths, change seat height to account for different operator heights, and have a backrest angle so drivers can adjust between upright and slightly reclined positions for maximum comfort.
Forklift seats can be even more comfortable if the angle of the seat can be tilted up and down so that the seat doesn’t press against the back of the driver’s knees.
Drivers can also use a small lumbar support cushion to provide more stability to the lower back. Some ergonomic forklift seats can be adjusted for depth, or come with an inflatable cushion that can be modified to fit each operator’s specific needs.
Headrests for neck support and arm rests that are wide, cushioned, and height-adjustable can add even more comfort to forklift seats.
Besides the ergonomics of forklift seats themselves, there are a few things forklift drivers can do to increase comfort and reduce the risk of pain or injury from spending long hours “in the saddle”.
For one, they can change their posture from time to time. Sitting in the same position for many consecutive hours can put too much pressure on the spine. But modifying the seating position can alleviate postural fatigue.
It’s also important for forklift operators to take breaks. Driving a forklift can be very tiring. Getting up and out of the forklift seat and walking around stretches the muscles and temporarily relieves the pressures that can cause spinal fatigue.