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Operator Fatigue and COVID-19

Feeling a little stressed?  All essential employees are feeling pressures that they didn’t feel a couple of months ago. Your employees are out there every day working hard to keep things moving. Now they must worry about childcare, laid off spouses, and sickness in their family.  Being attentive to operator safety has taken on new meanings.  Luckily the impairment of operator fatigue can be reduced.  

What Causes Operator Fatigue?

Operator fatigue can be brought on by many different things. Some of the most common are insufficient sleep, extended work hours, or periods of stress or anxiety. When operating a forklift, some of the causes of fatigue could be the noise, uncomfortable riding surfaces, or insufficient ergonomics. Making sure that your workers have comfortable equipment helps reduce worker fatigue and can enhance operator safety and improve productivity.

How does Fatigue Effect Worker Safety?

Worker fatigue is not something that can be necessarily “measured”, but some studies show that it does negatively impact certain areas of work. Some of the most noticeable symptoms may be things like reduced decision-making ability, communication skills, less attentiveness, and being unable to stay awake. When you see signs of worker fatigue in employees, take the time to talk to them. Make sure that they are feeling okay.  That way they do not become a risk to themselves, other employees or the company. Communication is the backbone of a culture of safety.

What can I do to help Reduce Operator Fatigue?

Talk with your workers to make them aware of operator fatigue and work together to determine what is affecting them the most. Is it the noise? There may be a simple service that can reduce the noise. Is it the tough warehouse floors? Maybe this is the time to replace those chunked tires or look at pneumatic tires. Have you checked the air quality of your warehouse? Headaches from poor exhaust is the hidden danger in many warehouses.  An emission test may solve some problems. 

You can also look for more ergonomic ways to help keep employees from physically overexerting themselves. Replacing seats and arm rests have a tremendous effect.

Being available is something that is easy to do, and lets employees know that you want them to stay safe.

Staying safe in the workplace should always be your top priority. Make sure you are taking all the necessary steps to help your employees or yourself, to avoid running in to worker fatigue.


Jim Chaousis- General Parts and Service Manager