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Because forklift operators spend so much of their day seated in the lift truck, it is easy to overlook the physical toll that can result even from remaining sedentary. This oversight is unfortunate, as driving a forklift can result in serious back problems and other physical injuries. Recognizing this, the European Directive 2002/44/EC now mandates that forklift warehouses must keep employees from suffering vibrations in excess of 1.15m/s2. In addition, there is a stipulation that prevents operators from experiencing excessive vibrations on a given day, as workers cannot incur more than 0.5 m/s2 for an 8-hour workday. This initiative to regulate seat vibration is an important step in improving worker safety, but there are many approaches that companies can take to limit vibrations, and this post reviews several of these methods.
A comfortable seat is one of the most effective ways of reducing vibration, but at the same time the seat is only successful when it is tailored to the body weight of the driver. In fact, seats that do not correspond with the driver’s frame will actually increase vibrations. It is therefore important that companies ensure that drivers are fitted for their seat and that sharing forklifts is kept to a minimum.
Having the wrong tire can also increase seat vibration. We’ve discussed the characteristics of the different tires in the past, but solid rubber tires are easily the most effective at keeping vibration as low as possible. Moreover, tires with perforations are even more successful at limiting vibration. On the other hand, pneumatic tires may be the most durable, but they tend to raise vibrations.
Speed matters, too
This is probably the least surprising factor to consider, but speed has a major impact on curbing vibrations. The lower the speed, the fewer vibrations you will experience. Because they tend to go slower, older forklifts have less vibration.
Steps to reduce vibration
Obviously, you need to pay attention to seats, tires, and speed in order to limit vibration. Make sure that operators have proper posture behind the wheel. Warehouses should set variable speed limits and effectively train operators. In order to ensure that operators do not incur too much vibration on a given day, drivers should also be rotated on a regular basis.
Vibrations are one of the less obvious, yet important, aspects of forklift operation that can cause injury. In the end, however, through proper training, equipment, and operation companies can limit vibration and make sure that operators are free of pain and able to perform their best.