Empirical studiesBy Berna H. Ulutas, N. Firat Ozkan
The use of materials handling equipment is inevitable in a rapidly-growing supply chain to move diverse types of sub/products. Forklifts are one of the best known and widely used pieces of equipment in almost any industry, but especially in warehouses and shipping departments. Moving the right amount of the right materials safely and in a timely manner is often believed to be related to the forklift driver’s experience. Although it is proven that forklift design may affect the performance a forklift driver, environmental and cognitive factors have not been studied in detail. This study aims to consider related factors to improve occupational health and safety for forklift drivers. A survey was designed to gather personal information about drivers, their comfort level regarding environmental factors, and their comments on forklift design and usability. Environmental factors were measured with an environmental meter and drivers were asked to complete the Cornell Musculoskeletal Discomfort Questionnaire. A mobile eye tracker was used to gather and assess fixation data and change in pupil size as indicators of cognitive load in pallet handling duties. An ANOVA analysis highlighted the importance of considering the combination of factors and asking drivers’ opinions in real-life applications.