Even the most skilled forklift operators can commit senseless errors or mistakes when tasks become repetitive or routine. It is very common for operators to become complacent over time.
Could this happening in your warehouse? Probably.
Common risks and errors include exceeding forklift weight capacity, not recognizing space constraints when carrying a load, and going through the motions unaware of surrounding areas.
Usually, operators are not behaving badly on purpose — their minds simply wander. Just think of the number of times you yourself drove from point A to point B, yet have no memory of the journey. Your brain went on autopilot, but in a warehouse, that shift can be deadly.
Is it time to worry?
You probably don’t stay awake at night worried about potential impacts in your warehouse. But, if you have no idea which employee’s behavior is showing signs of complacency, it may be time to find out.
You should know each operator's behavior and identify which are showing evidence of:
- Poor spatial awareness
How large or small a load is often based on the operator “eyeballing” it and making a determination relying on their past experience and perception. Missing the mark by even an inch can have major safety implications.
Common among seasoned forklift operators, routine or repetitive routes throughout an operator's shift can have them going a little faster, cutting corners too sharply, and not paying attention to what’s going on around them.
- Lack of awareness about pedestrians and hazards
Many operators get into a routine and become complacent of their surroundings. Operators need to be vigilant about potential hazards and pedestrians.
- Risking forklift overload
Carrying too much weight on a forklift creates numerous potential dangers. It typically happens when operators are taken out of their routines to load a different product type.
5 ways to combat complacency
Avoiding operator complacency requires taking steps to avoid it. Here are 5 ways to heighten awareness and keep everyone alert.
- Sustain lean processes and a mindset of making continuous improvements.
Use tools such as 5S: sort, set, shine, standardize, and sustain. Also, get employees involved in identifying process improvements and safety risks they see each day on the job.
- Identify the root cause of incidents to learn why they are happening.
Use the 5 Why approach for reoccurring problems to identify the root cause. Addressing a problem more than once is time consuming and a waste of valuable resources.
- Leverage telematic impact data for analysis.
Impact and location data can determine patterns and trends regarding where impacts are occurring, when they occur, and operators involved.
- Watch Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
KPIs can be used to measure how effectively your site, group, or individuals are reaching key operator safety objectives.
- Use a blended training program that includes cognitive, affective, and behavior curriculum.
Individuals learn differently, make training more effective with blended programs that are fun and interactive. Focus training on skill deficits or complacency.
The right advanced telematics system can monitor operator behavior — the good and the bad — and help managers identify poor habits, signs of complacency, and increased risk.