It’s pretty much a given that in any job, you’re likely to experience a bit of stress at one time or another. But long-term stress can be extremely detrimental to employees’ mental and physical health, and can even be a safety issue at work.
More than 11 million working days are lost each year due to stress and mental health related issues? But for those who work through stress, it can become even more harmful to them. Forklift truck drivers who work in busy warehouse or factory environments, stress could potentially be harmful or at an extreme, fatal.
Sleep deprivation & fatigue
One of the most common consequences of stress is sleep deprivation. Even in the short term, a bad night’s sleep can be extremely detrimental to concentration the following day – some studies have shown that lack of sleep is comparable to having a couple glasses of wine. You wouldn’t let someone operate forklift trucks under the influence of alcohol, so why would it be safe for someone who has the same concentration level and decision making prowess through lack of sleep?
We’ve seen the signs on the motorway that warn tiredness can kill, and operating a forklift truck is no different. Not only could stock, machinery, racking and even buildings themselves be damaged by a wrong move, but pedestrians are at an even higher threat.
Lapses in concentration
Long-term stress also results in severe lapses in concentration. If forklift truck drivers are distracted because they’re worrying about something or stressed about a particular problem, they aren’t focused on the task at hand. This can easily result in mistakes, forgetting important safety checks, and running on autopilot when operating equipment. It only takes a small misstep to result in expensive damage and potentially life changing injuries.
Managing stress in the workplace
It’s really important that employers create a culture where employees feel they can speak to someone if they are worried or stressed – even if it isn’t related to work. Employees should be given time off for stress related health concerns and check that they are fit to work before being thrown back in the driver’s seat. Taking steps to reduce stress in the workplace can reduce the risks of accidents and can foster a calm, productive and happy place for people to work!