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Should Forklift Operators Have a Uniform?

Most manufacturing and industrial businesses are getting away from the concept of requiring their employees to wear uniforms.

In the past, uniforms were popular because they helped create a workplace culture, they managers identify different classes of workers on sight, and they made workplaces look neater and more organized.

Today, however, you are more likely to see industrial, warehouse, construction, and manufacturing workers reporting for duties in jeans and sweatshirts than you are standardized uniforms.

The Wardrobe of Forklift Operators

While you may be hard-pressed to convince your team of forklift operators to start wearing uniforms, it is a good idea to have them wear certain types of clothing that can improve both the safety and efficiency of your operation.

The first is a high-visibility safety vest or jacket. This type of lightweight, brightly colored safety gear makes it easier for other employees to see forklift drivers when they are coming and going. It also helps managers and supervisors track their drivers when they are on the job.

Personal Protective Equipment

Other personal protective equipment should include hard hats and safety shoes.

Hard hats are required in any construction area or zone, whether it is indoors or out. It's also a good idea to require forklift operators to wear hard hats when working inside warehouses and docks to help protect them against falling products and other items they are moving on or off overhead shelving.

Safety shoes include nonskid shoes, boots or shoes with steel toes, or both. The type of footwear you require should be consistent with the kind of operations your drivers will be performing. If they are moving heavy crates or pallets and are frequently jumping on and off their vehicle -- like most forklift operators -- steel-toed boots or shoes are usually a good idea

Other Clothing Guidelines

Goggles can help protect workers against splashes of caustic chemicals and other substances. So if your drivers are working in an environment where this is a risk, you may want to require them.

Earplugs help protect workers' hearing in loud workplaces. But they also can prevent forklift operators from hearing other operators or workers. If you work in a loud environment, you may want to consider noise-dampening headphones that filter out certain frequencies while still allowing voices to pass through.

Whatever your forklift operators wear, it should be reasonably fitted. Loose clothing can get caught on machinery, increasing the risk of injury or accident.