Three Reasons to Enforce the Seat Belt Rule at Your Facility

Many forklift operators complain about wearing seat belts. They say it is a hassle, it takes too much time, and that they get on and off the forklift “a hundred times a day.” These reasons are not good enough for skirting the seat belt rule.  

Here are three reasons why operators should buckle up every time they drive a forklift:

1)  A seat belt keeps the driver on the seat in the event of a tip-over. Tip-overs are the leading cause of death and injury for forklift operators. They can be caused by overloading your forklift, driving with the load elevated, turning to fast, driving off docks and many other ways. When a tip-over happens and the driver is not wearing a seatbelt, they often are projected into the mast area, or worse, they fall out of the forklift and are crushed by the frame of the vehicle.

2)  A sea belt keeps the driver from jumping out of the forklift in other accidents. In many other types of forklift accidents, objects are falling down around the forklift. The forklift’s overhead guard is designed to protect the driver from falling loads. Therefore, it is best to stay inside the vehicle in these situations.


3)  OSHA rules require the use of seat belts. OSHA absolutely enforces the requirement for operator restraints on forklifts. Of course, OSHA rarely tells you when they are coming by, whether they are visiting for a surprise inspection or for an accident investigation. When your forklift driver happens to drive by an OSHA inspector, the seat belt is one of the first things they notice. If the driver is not wearing a seat belt, it will tell them a lot about the overall safety program at the company.

Once wearing a seat belt is a habit, it only takes 2 seconds to put it on. Multiply that by “a hundred times a day” and you get approximately 3 ½ minutes. Last we checked, most forklift drivers get paid by the hour. In fact, it can almost be done while turning the key to start the vehicle.

Once it is a habit, drivers will no longer complain. Do we complain about wearing seat belts in our cars?  No.  In fact, you probably don't even think about it; you just do it. Forklift seat belts should be thought of in the same way.