The Importance of Proper PPE for Forklift Operators

Forklift operators have a host of safety hazards to contend with, and protecting them requires everyone’s efforts. For operators, it’s necessary to keep safe driving practices in mind, as well as wear proper personal protective gear. The importance of proper PPE for forklift operators is easy to overlook when compared to other safety measures, but it is valuable for keeping operators safe.


Shirt and Pants

Proper PPE starts with the clothing on operators’ backs. Clothing should be comfortable for the working conditions of the warehouse or worksite. However, it should not be too loose. Baggy clothing will increase the risk of workers getting caught on parts of the forklift itself or other objects in the environment. It should, however, be loose enough to allow for a full range of mobility when exiting and entering the vehicle.


In environments where operating a forklift is necessary, there is typically a higher risk of heavy objects falling and crushing workers’ feet. Because of this, shoes should be closed-toed with puncture-proof soles. Depending on the environment, steel-toe shoes may be necessary.


Forklift and heavy equipment operators must be able to keep a steady grip on the controls of their machinery. Because grease and other residues often end up on the controls of the forklift, operators should wear gloves to help them maintain their grip. Gloves should offer enough flexibility to give operators’ hands a good range of motion while still being sturdy enough to provide protection.


Head injuries are the most serious for employees, and there are several potential risk factors for head injuries in warehouses. Objects and debris may fall from above, or an operator could fall from a forklift. Wearing a helmet reduces both the risk of head injuries and the severity of any head injuries that may result from these types of accidents.


Although forklifts are not hard to spot, a person may not always be aware of when a forklift is about to begin moving. One way to increase the likelihood that workers will notice when a forklift is about to move is by requiring operators to wear reflective vests. These vests attract the eye and help workers on the ground notice when operators are getting in and out of the forklift, allowing them to adjust their movements accordingly.


Eyewear typically isn’t as essential to forklift operation as it is in other areas of construction. However, because forklifts often operate in construction sites or other areas where debris hovers in the air, it may be important for forklift operators to wear PPE that protects the eyes. It is particularly necessary to consider what type of eyewear will be most appropriate. Protecting visibility is crucial, and operators should avoid eyewear that hampers peripheral vision.

Here at Toyota Material Handling Ohio, we care about keeping your forklift operators safe. That is why we offer forklift training in Ohio to prepare operators for the hazards ahead.