Managing Fatigue Of Forklift Operators

Fatigue is a major factor in worker efficiency and productivity.

Stress can contribute to fatigue.
(Courtesy: Cursos Gratis at

Workers are going to get fatigued as they work a normal schedule. However, managers who know how to cope with their fatigue and know how to handle it are always a leg up over the competition.

Fatigue is defined as extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness. The more fatigued a worker is, the less productive he or she is going to be.

What Causes Fatigue?

Worker fatigue can be the result of personal or work related issues. For example, if a worker doesn’t get a good night’s sleep, then it will affect is capabilities on the job. This comes down to a personal issue. It is up to all of us to have a good night’s sleep to be able to cope with issues we will confront during a day. But fatigue can also be a result of what occurs on the job. For example, if a person has to work extended hours or is put under extreme stress or anxiety on the job, then this too leads to fatigues and affects one’s abilities to produce on the job.

When driving a forklift, some things that can cause fatigue include noise, a bumpy riding surface, or poor ergonomics. It is the responsibility of the warehouse manager to provide equipment that is comfortable to use and ride for the operator. It assists in reducing fatigue and, as a result the worker can perform his or her tasks safely and with more productivity.

How Fatigue Effects Worker Safety

As already noted, worker fatigue can affect a person’s ability to do his assigned tasks. Some issues that could occur if a forklift operator is tired include reduced decision making ability, negative effect on his communication skills, minimum concentration or focus and simply being unable to stay away. It is up to the warehouse manger that a forklift operator is not fatigued so that he doesn’t become a risk to himself or to other employees of the warehouse. Communication is one way to help alleviate the problem of fatigue.

What Warehouse Managers Can Do To Reduce Worker Fatigue

Of course, there is not one specific thing you can do to prevent or minimize worker fatigue. However, you can talk to the worker and let him know that his ability to do his tasks is effected. The manager should determine if the fatigue is job related. Such things as noise is job related. A possible remedy for the issue is a headphone that blocks out the noise and allow the worker to focus on his tasks.

If the forklift operator needs more sleep, the manager can advise him to adjust his sleep schedule. Perhaps the warehouse is poorly or too extremely lit. Communicating with the forklift driver can alert you to the problem and prompt you into making necessary modifications to the lighting. Good communication with the forklift operator can also assist a manger in determining if ergonomics is the issue. Once a manager is alerted to the problem, he can take steps to fix it.

The best way for a manager to deal with these issues is to be available and to talk with the worker. Once the manager is alerted to a problem, then he can determine how to cope with it to ensure that the issue of fatigue doesn’t affect warehouse operations.

Also, managers should consider this: a remedy that is based on one-size fits all will not work to minimize fatigue as a problem in your warehouse. Each one of your workers is different. Each has different concerns or different reasons why they may be suffering with fatigue. Open communication can help identify the problem so that things can be done to alleviate it.