Forklift Driver Fatigue

In the last blog, we highlighted forklift truck accidents that could have been prevented if the right procedures were in place. You can minimise the chances of accidents but it is difficult to completely eliminate them due to human factors. One of these is the forklift driver fatigue. Fatigue is defined as the state of feeling tired, weary or sleepy. It should be considered a workplace hazard, as it can be a form of impairment.

Forklift Driver Fatigue

Operating a forklift truck requires attention, precision and reaction. All of these can easily be hampered when a lack of sufficient sleep builds up over a period of time.

The causes of forklift driver fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Long working hours
  • Work pressures like stress and anxiety
  • Work environment like noise, uneven surfaces the forklift traverses over and busy warehouses
  • Ergonomics like sitting position and lighting
  • Issues at home

Some of the common signs of forklift drive fatigue include:

  • Poor decision making
  • Lack of or poor communications
  • Lack of concentration
  • Irritability
  • Memory Loss
  • Difficulty staying awake

Some causes of forklift fatigues are easier to deal with. Ergonomic issues such as sitting position and lighting can be remedied. If noise is causing you fatigue, headphones that cut out some of the noise will help. However, this may have other issues such as inability to hear emergency sirens putting the forklift driver in danger. It is up to the discretion of the employer whether to allow headphones but generally it is not encouraged.

Some warehouses operate 24 hours a day and workers are often on shifts. Other workplaces require forklift drivers to work after most of the other workers have left resulting in evening or night work. You may find it difficult to sleep during the day as our bodies are hardwired to sleep at night.

Causes of fatigue may not necessarily be linked to work. In this hot summer, it is difficult for most of us to sleep soundly. However, if you are doing shift work and trying to sleep during the day, it is almost impossible in this hot weather. There may be other factors causing lack of sleep such as family pressures or money worries.  If you are a forklift driver and are having issues sleeping, talk to your supervisor or manager.

The best way to deal with forklift driver fatigue is communications and awareness. Talk to the forklift driver of the dangers and risks of fatigue. The behaviour of most people change when they are fatigued. Be aware of this and try to find out the reason for the change in behaviour. If it is due to lack of sleep, try to alter the sleep patterns. You may need to seek professional help if the forklift driver fatigue persists.

Wallace School of Transport is a fully accredited RTITB company with over 50 years' experience. You can be trained either at your own work site or at Wallace Centre in Park Royal. If you have any questions, call Wallace Forklift Training on 020 8453 3440, choose option 3 or click here to email us.

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