There are several options for hats for forklift operators. A hard hat is often required where a work area may have falling objects. However, a forklift operator might want to wear a cap with a longer visor or a sun hat (if working outside), or a beanie or hoodie (if working in a coolstore).
The considerations are:
- Is there a requirement to protect the operator from falling objects?
- Is there a requirement to protect the operator from the elements (sun or cold)?
- Will a hat or hoodie restrict the operator’s vision too much, creating additional risk?
- Are jackets with high collars an alternative that is any worse or better?
- Are sunglasses a better alternative to a baseball cap with a peak?
In a fully enclosed forklift, there is less risk of items entering the cab, therefore a hard hat may not be necessary. However, if you watch your forklift operators during the day, count how many times they get out of their machine to move things out of the way or adjust items.
In a forklift with a cage and a metal grille or plastic screen overhead, there is a reasonable amount of head protection. Consider the risk of items falling and hitting the operator.
In a forklift with minimal safety features (i.e. no cage or rollover protection structure), a hard hat may serve more purpose.
Should forklift operators be permitted to wear baseball caps?
A cap worn backwards doesn’t impede the operator’s vision, but one worn with the peak at the front will make it more difficult to see objects on high racking. However, operators do tend to work around the issue by twisting their heads to the side when looking up. A baseball cap can help keep the sun out of an operator’s eyes when working outside and provides a small amount of shade for the face.
Should forklift operators be permitted to wear beanies?
In coolstores, a beanie can help keep an operator warmer without them having to wear so many other bulky layers with high collars (which do impede peripheral vision). Keeping an operator warm is important in terms of them maintaining focus.
Should forklift operators be permitted to wear hoodies?
Hoodies provide some protection from the sun, but impede the vision sideways, like a hood would on a raincoat. A hoodie doesn’t provide protection from sun glare like a cap does. It will help keep a worker warm in a cold environment.
Should ride-on and walk-behind operators wear a hard hat?
Ride-on and walk-behind forklifts (walkie stackers and the like) usually don’t have overhead protection. Some also have a mast and can lift above head height. A hard hat may be appropriate for these machines.