By Stephani L. Miller
An aching back, strained muscles, and stiff joints are just a few symptoms of fatigue a forklift operator might accumulate in a day of sitting or standing, wrestling a steering wheel, operating hydraulic controls, and climbing on and off the forklift. And because materials handling productivity is not only a function of the machine, but also of the operator, when the body starts to slow, load-moving efficiency can decline.
That's why ergonomics has become a more prominent focus in forklift design, with manufacturers developing more features that aim to increase comfort and reduce operator fatigue. “Making the truck comfortable for the operator is very important for two reasons: to make him more comfortable and to make him more productive for the company owners,” says Geoff Beale, sales director for forklift manufacturer Hyster USA.
Most manufacturers have incorporated ergonomic principles into forklifts in the areas of cab design, placement of driving and lift controls, and isolation of noise and vibration.
| Ergonomically designed and placed controls, supportive operator chairs, and cabs that are easy to climb in and out of can make running a forklift more comfortable for operators and in turn can keep productivity up. |
“In lumberyard applications, it's not unusual at all for the operator to get on and off the truck frequently” during a shift to check bar codes and load positioning, explains Jerry LaHood, prod...
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