Incentives Help Forklift Operators to Work More Safely

Photo courtesy: Oklahoma Dept. of Transportation at

Photo courtesy: Oklahoma Dept. of Transportation at

Forklift safety is everybody’s concern.

Forklift drivers want to avoid injuring others or damaging products or other materials.

Management wants to eliminate accidents and create a safe work environment.

And owners and shareholder want to maximize profits by minimizing payouts for workmen’s comp claims, fines and penalties for safety violations, and other accident-related expenses.

But ultimately, forklift safety comes down to line-level operators. All the rules and regulations are meaningless if drivers don’t follow them, either out of ignorance or by intentionally disregarding safety measures.

So the most effective way to improve forklift safety is to offer incentives to drivers to follow the rules. Here’s are a few ways to do it.

Pay for Performance

The thing all employees understand most is money. Offering cash rewards for accident-free performance for a pre-determined amount of time such as a month, a quarter, or a year, is one of the most effective ways to see immediate results.

To get maximum value, these cash bonuses can be offered to individuals or to entire teams.

They also should be separate from annual performance reviews, although an individual driver’s safety record should continue to account for a large part of their job assessment.

Recognize Outstanding Performers

Money talks. But it’s not the only way to incentivize your employees to drive safer.

You also can publicly recognize drivers who work accident-free for a period of a week, a month or a quarter. Post their pictures someplace where they can be viewed by their co-workers and celebrate their safe driving with a recognition ceremony or during daily pre-shift or post-shift meetings.

Organize Safety Competitions

Forklift rodeos offer friendly competition while encouraging all operators to pay closer attention to the safe operation of their forklifts.

Set aside an afternoon or a weekend morning and invite volunteers to compete for the title of “Best Forklift Operator” at your business. There are even regional and even national competitions where winners can be sent to compete as representatives of your organization.

Make Safety Part of the Culture

Workers will pay more attention to workplace safety if they understand that it is a company priority.

Have supervisors and managers reinforce safety procedures during daily or pre-shift meetings. Retrain all employees on a regularly scheduled basis on the safe operation of their vehicles.

Don’t forget to certify workers who complete safety training and keep a record of these certifications on file in case there is a workplace accident. OSHA will want to see proof that you provided adequate and ongoing safety training for all forklift operators.


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