When is it Time for Forklift Replacement Seats?

When is it time to consider buying forklift replacement seats? Is it when the seats are so worn, the springs are sticking out? Obviously, your forklift operators will start complaining when that happens, but it’s surprising how neglected this essential forklift part can be.

Fatigue takes its toll on worker productivity

Even forklift operators who are in the seat all day get so accustomed to their forklift seats, they don’t realize how much their seat is negatively affecting their productivity and job satisfaction. More or less unconsciously, they look for every opportunity throughout the day to get out of the cab to get some relief from their discomfort. As the day wears on and fatigue sets in, they attribute it to the job and not the discomfort they feel in their poorly designed forklift seat.

Known collectively as musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), back disorders are the most common form of workplace illness. Most of these injuries or disorders are preventable. Medical sources recommend that employers take proactive steps to reduce the risk of these types of illnesses:

  1. Risk assessment: Take a look around the workplace and identify any areas where you have not taken the proper precautions.
  2. Eliminate or minimize the risks by taking the right measures.
  3. Redesign the work environment as necessary to reduce the risk of back injuries occurring.
  4. Periodically review the measures you have taken.

In factories and warehouses, supervisors are often aware of the risks associated with lifting and take the proper precautions by giving instruction in proper lifting techniques and posting safety signs. However, they are often not aware that sedentary workers such as office workers and forklift operators are actually more prone to back disorders than physically active workers. A major reason for this is poorly designed seating.

In a lift truck, several factors contribute to back disorders:

  • Lack of height adjustment makes the driver slump in the chair.
  • Lack of back support places undo stress on the back.
  • Twisting and turning in the seat without the aid of a back-up handle to provide support can lead to a debilitating injury.
  • Forklift vibration takes a cumulative toll on the driver.

Aside from an inexpensive back-up handle, the solution to all of these potential problems is an ergonomically designed forklift replacement seat. These now come standard on many new forklifts, but most older lift trucks come equipped with cheap seats that have a forward-backward adjustment feature only.

An ergonomically designed forklift seat

An ergonomically designed forklift replacement seat

An ergonomically designed forklift replacement seat will hold the driver comfortably in an upright position, be height and depth adjustable and provide suspension to dampen the constant vibration and bumping the operator would otherwise be subjected to.

True, an ergonomically designed lift truck seat costs more, but even the best seat is still not an expensive forklift accessory and will quickly pay for itself. Not only will it help prevent back injuries, it will reduce operator fatigue. According to studies, worker fatigue costs American businesses an astonishing $136 billion dollars a year, with 84% of the costs  “related to reduced performance while at work, rather than absences.”

So, when is it time for forklift replacement seats? Take a look around your workplace and decide. Right now may be the right time.

About Rob S

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