Ergonomic Forklift Features That Help Reduce Common Operator Injuries

by Dave Tullis, on May 14, 2021 4:22:00 PM

SST Blog - Ergonomic Forklift Features That Help Reduce Common Operator Injuries

For warehouse safety managers, reducing the risks of employee injuries is a top priority. That goes beyond facility operations and improvements to forklifts and other heavy equipment as well. Forklift operators are at risk of repeated use injuries and other risks due to their demanding work. But, the right equipment can reduce common operator injuries thanks to ergonomic features and design considerations.

What Are Common Forklift Operator Injuries?

Forklift operators are at an increased risk for certain types of injuries and chronic pain compared to other workers. Some common injuries include: 

  • Head injuries - caused by dropped pallets, falling product, or impacts with the overhead guard during forklift entry and exit.
  • Whiplash - due to improper operation of forklifts, collisions, or other serious incidents.
  • Chronic pain - caused by repetitive motions and overuse, common in operators’ necks, backs, and arms. 
  • Pinched fingers - caused by untangling pallets without gloves and issues with straps, chains, and valves. 
  • Slips & falls - due to missed steps when entering or exiting forklifts or improper use causing tip-overs and more serious incidents.

Forklift ergonomics can’t eliminate or fix all of these injuries, but they can help. Ergonomic equipment combined with the right forklift safety training for operators and your workplace’s culture of safety, can help reduce injuries for your workers. 

Ergonomic Forklift Features That Reduce Operator Injuries: Electric Forklift

Ergonomic Forklift Features

Ergonomic features increase productivity by reducing worker fatigue and discomfort. Equipment designers study how people use forklifts and other industrial equipment to develop features that reduce risks and increase comfort for operators. 

Toyota forklifts, known for their ergonomic design features, are more comfortable to operate day in and day out. 

Some of the most popular ergonomic features include: 

Forklift Operator Steps

Never underestimate the potential impact of a well-designed step. Toyota forklifts have entry/exit steps for optimized with an ideal width and textured tread to reduce the risk of slip and fall injuries. 

Forklift Cabin Handles

Many forklifts feature handles in the operator cabin enclosure to help with operators’ entries and exits. These can reduce strain on the operator’s knees and ankles and help keep them stable and avoid falls. 

Rear Handle Horn

An optional feature, the forklift’s rear handle horn helps reduce strain when operators are driving in reverse. This feature makes it easier to navigate, includes a convenient horn button on the handle. It also reduces the risk of pinched or broken fingers by keeping the operator inside the cabin.

Forklift Operator Seat

If you’ve ever had an uncomfortable office chair or driven an unfamiliar rental car a long distance, you know how important a seat can be for your comfort. Forklift operators remain seated for long hours, so Toyota’s seat is designed to keep them comfortable and safe. With side bolsters, head, neck, and shoulder guards, armrests, and a swiveling base, Toyota’s forklift seat helps reduce discomfort, fatigue, and strains. This helps keep operators focused on the task at hand, increasing productivity and reducing possible risks due to fatigue or distraction.

Mini Lever and Joystick Controls

These optional upgrade features put the forklift’s lift, tilt, direction, and attachment levers closer to the operator by extending the armrest. These can increase efficiency and also reduce the risk of possible strains caused by repeated leaning to reach and operate traditional forklift lever controls. 


In addition to the risk reduction, ergonomic designs can actually increase operator productivity. When you reduce risk and increase output (and employee satisfaction) everybody wins. If you’re interested in learning more about Toyota’s ergonomic designs in their forklift lineup, Southern State Toyotalift is here to help. To learn about your options and schedule a free equipment demo, contact a material handling expert online, by phone (800-226-2345), or in person at one of our nine locations.

Winter Park


Further Reading:
Top 8 Forklift Safety Products
Forklift Safety Checklist
Why Are Forklift Pre-Shift Inspections Important?

Forklift Operator Training - Schedule Your Course


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