Forklift Ergonomics Protect Operators from Prolonged Sitting

(Courtesy: Ken Pretell at

(Courtesy: Ken Pretell at

Most people might think that sitting behind the wheel of a forklift all day is a cushy job and that most operators are full of energy at the end of their shift because they haven’t done any physical labor.

Boy, are they wrong!

Your Body Is at Risk

The truth is that driving a forklift or any other type of industrial vehicle can be exhausting. Sitting isn’t a natural position for the human body and it can put pressure on your back, buttocks, neck and other areas.

The constant vibrations, bouncing and jerking of the vehicle, which can put an even further strain on the body — not to mention the stress of trying to get as much done as quickly as possible without damaging product or injuring other workers.

Common physical symptoms felt at the end of a forklift shift include:

  • Lower back injury
  • Poor circulation in the buttocks and legs
  • Cramps and pressure points in the legs
  • Pain in the neck, shoulder and back

There’s also a significant long-term risk for degenerative spinal disc or disc herniation injury.

Improving Forklift Ergonomics

One of the most effective ways of avoiding these physical problems is to use an ergonomically correct forklift replacement seat that includes additional padding in the lower back and other areas that can absorb much of the vibration from your forklift.

An ergonomically correct seat also will be tilted at the proper angle — 110 degrees 00 to help minimize pressure on the spinal disc.

Other Stress-Saving Tricks

You can provide additional support for your lower back by placing a small pillow, pad or even a rolled up towel between your back and the set.

It’s also important that at the beginning of every shift that you adjust your seat and steering wheel so that your feet can easily reach the pedals without having to move your lower back from the seat. The two should maintain contact at all times.

Every 20 minutes, use the seat adjustment knob to tilt your seat to a slightly different position. This will change the direction vibrations from the forklift reach your body.


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