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Forklift operators spend a lot of time in the saddle. During a typical shift, a driver may spend up to eight hours behind the wheel. And if it’s the busy season and there’s overtime available, it could be even longer.
Sitting anywhere for eight or 10 hours can be uncomfortable. But when the seat is constantly shifting, bouncing, jumping, and jostling, it can easily lead to lower back pain, undue stress, and a general pain in the rear end.
So what’s the solution? Shorter shifts? Better replacement seats? Additional seat padding? Let’s take a look at some possible answers.
Reducing Spinal Imbalance
One of the most effective solutions is also the simplest: Removing the driver’s wallet from the back pocket and putting it in the front pocket.
Many men traditionally carry their wallet in their rear pocket. This provides easy access while keeping it out of the way until it’s needed.
But when a forklift operator is sitting on their wallet, it can cause the pelvis to become cocked to one side. Over time, this can cause the lower vertebrae of the spine to become imbalanced, putting undue pressure on the discs between the backbones. This can potentially lead to lower back pain, inflammation of the sciatic nerve, and other painful conditions.
Long-haul truckers have known for years that simply moving the wallet from the back to the front pocket can stabilize the pelvis and eliminate the conditions that cause lower back issues. Forklift operators should take this lesson to heart.
Reduced Saddle Time
Another lesson to be learned from truckers is reducing the amount of time drivers spend behind the wheel. New federal safety regulations limit the number of hours truckers can drive per day and per week. The objective is to reduce driver fatigue and reduce accidents.
Few forklift operators are spending more than 8 to 10 hours in their cabs. But most would benefit from more frequent breaks. Stretching before, during, and after their shifts also can help loosen muscles and reduce the risk of injury or pain.
Shorter shifts is a whole other issue. Workers tend to buck when their hours are cut — even for safety concerns. But there is a direct relationship between the amount of time spent behind the wheel and the amount of physical pain drivers experience.
Finally, the contact between the body and the forklift seat plays a direct role in driver health. Worn seats with broken springs are going to provide less support than new forklift seats with improved ergonomics.
Forklift replacement seats can help keep workers healthier, happier, and more productive. Monitor the condition of forklift seats and replace worn or broken seats immediately.