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Can Ergonomics Boost Forklift Operator Productivity?

Feb 01 2022 Ergonomics3 Min. Read

You’ve probably heard of ergonomics, the study of people's efficiency in their working environment, but have you ever considered how ergonomics can improve the productivity of your operation?

Let’s take a closer look at how to improve forklift productivity by using ergonomic principles.

Risks and injuries

Forklift operators are exposed to many risks from sitting, repetitive movement, and shock and vibration. Stress from these factors can affect bones, muscles, tendons, nerves and soft tissues, leading to long-term pain or discomfort. At worst, pain and discomfort may lead to a Workers’ Compensation claim. Even without going to this point, a worker who’s in pain won’t be able to perform at his or her best.

In transportation and in warehousing, many employees suffer from work-related musculoskeletal disorders. Employers can reduce injuries by improving employee behavior and investing in ergonomically designed equipment.

Best practice tips for better forklift ergonomics

Here’s a list of ergonomics-focused best practice tips for forklift operators:


  • Reduce the need for the operator to twist
    • Provide a seat that rotates
    • Eliminate blind spots with mirrors, cameras, and sensors
    • Minimize the need to back up
  • Ensure that forklifts are clearly visible to other people
  • If the operator’s vision is obstructed, for example by a large load, use audible warnings to alert others to the forklift’s presence.


  • Train forklift operators sit in a way that allows them to reach all controls, and provides continuous lower back and upper leg support
  • Invest in equipment that makes this possible
  • Invest in seats that provide good cushioning from shocks and vibration and that support operator’s posture

Vehicle Movement

  • Prevent rapid acceleration and braking to avoid whiplash
  • Repair rough spots on floor surfaces and ramps since these can jolt the operator

Strain & Injury

  • Allow for breaks every hour
  • Encourage operator stretching before, during, and after each shift
  • Reduce physical repetition by providing task rotation for operators
  • Ensure operators maintain three points of contact when entering and exiting the forklift truck to reduce the chance of slips and falls
  • Encourage operators to seek medical advice if warning signs of injury, like pain or fatigue, occur


  • Ensure operators complete and maintain their safety certification


What’s the pay-off for implementing these ergonomics best practices? Here are the benefits.

1. Less Pain, Improved Health

When employees feel uncomfortable, it affects their ability to work. Ergonomics makes things feel more natural and safer. With this change, the body will be less strained, and health will improve.

2. Improved Mental Insight

There’s less anxiety, increased awareness, improved moods, and focus. This can result in higher productivity levels.

3. Higher Productivity

The better focused your employees are, the high level of productivity they can have.

4. Higher Quality Work

Aches, pains, fatigue, and other problems can take a toll on workers. When people feel comfortable, they can focus on high-quality production.

5. Eliminate Hazards, Encourage Safety

Part of creating a more productive work environment is eliminating the daily hazards that can hurt your employees. Not only is a safe environment good for workers, it can mean savings in insurance costs as well.

6. Increased Employee Engagement

Employees notice when a business provides conditions for increased employees’ health and safety. This can reduce the turnover rate and make your business one others want to work with.

7. Happier Employees, Happier You

When your employees are happy, their productivity levels will increase. The better they do, the better your business does.

Your partner for equipment, parts and more

Whether you have a single forklift or a fleet, you need a knowledgeable partner. Someone who knows lift trucks and understands your unique needs. Morrison can help. When you’re considering adding a forklift, reach out to us for help choosing the truck that matches your application and presents the best investment option for your business. We can also offer expert advice on your material handling operation.

We offer a broad range of replacement parts as well as exceptional service to make sure your equipment performs as expected over the life of the truck. Our trained representatives will partner with you to ensure you get the best for your specific needs.