Do forklift operators need to wear PPE?

By Jessica Barrett | Last updated: June 4, 2023

While engineering and administrative controls are always the first line of defense against injuries in the workplace, personal protective equipment (PPE) plays a critical role, too (learn more about The Hierarchy of Hazard Controls). And though it might not seem obvious, wearing the right PPE can make a huge difference for the safety of forklift operators.

So the short answer to this question is yes, forklift operators do need to wear PPE. But the big question is what type of PPE they require.

PPE for Forklift Operators

Eye protection:

  • Glasses protect operators’ eyes while on the job
  • Frames must not impede peripheral vision or impair the ability to see people and objects with minimal head turning

Head protection:

  • Hard hats should be worn to protect from falling object

Hand protection:

  • Safety gloves should be worn at all times when operating
    a lift truck
  • Protective gloves must be worn when handling hazards like propane, batteries, or chemicals
  • In cold conditions, gloves also protect the hands from cold-induced injuries like frostbite (see Cold Stress: Your Winter Safety Guide to learn more)

Hearing protection:

Proper footwear:

  • Appropriate footwear should be worn to mitigate the risk of slipping, crushing, puncture, electric shock, and exposure to corrosive substances and temperature extremes


  • Operators must use a seatbelt any time the forklift is in motion

Assess Your PPE Needs

While this list is a good start, it isn’t exhaustive. Every workplace has different hazards and risks, and it’s important to assess and identify them in order to ensure forklift operators are well protected with the right gear.

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Written by Jessica Barrett

Jessica Barrett

Jessica is a freelance writer and editor from Toronto, Canada. She specializes in creating content for nonprofits and has written for organizations working in human rights, conservation, education, and health care. She loves traveling and food, speaks Spanish, and has two dogs, one of whom she rescued while living in Mexico.

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