What is your Forklift Really Costing you?

posted on: Tuesday November 24, 2015

Is it time to retire your lift trucks and switch to a forklift-free environment? Here are some of the major costs associated with them.

xtralargeForklift-free environments are becoming more common in manufacturing. In some cases, they become obsolete in a transition to Lean practices. In others, safety is a big enough issue to find an alternative. No matter what, though, manufacturers who are reducing or eliminating forklift use are finding a significant reduction in expenses. Forklifts are not just expensive to buy and maintain; they also create extra costs that can be easily eliminated.

Training and Labor

It is not financially beneficial to have material sit in waiting. When forklifts are used, the more available operators in a shift, the less wait time has to be. What does it cost to train and employ forklift operators? In-person training runs $100-$200 per person. Recertification is required after three years and also if any change in equipment, environment, or operator’s physical or mental capacity occurs. It is completely up to the employee and employer to monitor conditions and certification expiration. With a high turnover rate in the industry, certification costs can rack up.

Once trained, you’re looking at wages. Forklift operators are paid an average of $62,000 a year. So three forklift operators moving product during three shifts costs employers $186,000 in annual wages. When you consider how much of the work doesn’t actually require a forklift with all the available solutions today, that number is hard to swallow.


Of course, safety is the most significant issue when it comes to lift trucks. According to OSHA, about 110,000 forklift accidents occur each year. These lead to serious injuries and even death. Almost 80% of forklift accidents involve a pedestrian. After decades of process improvements in forklift use, including safety protocols, training, and standard operating procedures, we still have these gargantuan statistics.

Clearly the risks involved with forklift use will only disappear if you eliminate the lift trucks altogether. Operators are constantly barraged with interruptions – route alterations, other forklifts, line operators’ requests – and therefore prone to distractions, visibility issues, and operator error.  These risks create accidents that cost an average of $48,000 per single disabling injury and $1,390,000 per cost of death.

Product and Pallet Damage

Human safety isn’t the only type of damage control necessary when talking about forklifts. Transporting palletized goods via forklifts results in product and pallet damage, and unsellable merchandise. These add up to huge costs for both the manufacturer and the retailer.

While forklifts are necessary to transition products to alternative heights, the majority of forklift use is driving horizontally, not lifting vertically. If you can eliminate much of the horizontal use, you will significantly reduce the risks and costs associated with forklifts. Battery-operated tuggers are cost-efficient alternatives to forklifts. They are safe, compact, easy to operate, and phenomenally beneficial to productivity. Find out how a power tug will cut costs for your operation. Contact Load Mover, Inc. at 952-767-1720 or info@loadmoverinc.com.