The objectives of the forklift safety training are to determine the risk involved in operating the forklift truck, familiarize trainees about different types of trucks and its operations and functions, preparation for visual check up of the machine prior to work, enable trainees to obtain forklift license, pass the formal training test, and actual driving evaluation.
What is a forklift?
A fork truck is a powered industrial truck used in warehouses, construction sites, ports, and in places where there are lots of heavy materials that need to be transported. This truck is engineered to push and pull from point A to point B, lift and stack materials from height.
The most common types of forklifts are counterbalance. Forklift has many names like fork truck, pallet truck, lift trucks, rider trucks.
This type of truck is being powered either by gas engine or electric motor. Depending on where it will be used, company can acquire a gas engine if to be used outdoor or electric if truck is intended to be used indoor.
Operator Safety Training
As per OSHA guideline 1910.178, the owner of the company shall ensure that each forklift operator is knowledgeable and capable to drive the truck safely and proficiently by implementing a safety program that adhere to standards set forth by OSHA.
Prior to hiring a forklift operator, employer shall ensure that he has received sufficient training either from outside source or from the company itself. It is the employer who is responsible and obliged for the provision of forklift certification training.
Training Program Implementation
The operator must understand that forklift training should only be performed under the direct supervision of a superior officer who has the competence and knowledge to deliver the training course professionally and ensure that trainees had received the information completely.
The training must composed of formal education (in-class lessons like video watching/presentation, anecdote reading, one on one interaction with the trainer), actual driving demonstration of the forklift to ensure that each operator has the proper knowledge about its operation and controls, and the last is evaluation that ensure each operator has received and understand the forklift training program by administering a test or evaluation.
Content of the Forklift Certification Course
The trainees shall receive the training course that surrounds in many topics like forklift truck specific topics such as its basic controls, purpose of operations, limitations, safe operation, vehicle stability, vehicle inspection, maintenance, refueling and recharging and proper parking.
The trainees must also learn workplace specific subjects on pedestrian safety, assessing danger in the workplace, risk analysis, work coordination, warning and signage precautions, driving on different surfaces, stability of materials being transported, stacking and de-stacking, working in restricted and tight areas, performing work at hazardous location, working in different weather conditions, and working in different condition of the work environment.
The course must also contain topics on OSHA requirements and standards about forklift operation. These three important subjects are crucial to ensure success of the forklift certification course.
Refresher Training and Forklift Operator Evaluation
Refresher training including the performance evaluation shall be performed by employer to ensure operators are capable to perform work safely. There are circumstances when refresher training is needed to be delivered such as operators have been involved in accident, near misses, mishaps, serious incident; if operator has been observed horseplaying the truck or has been seen operating the truck in unsafe approach; refresher is also delivered when there are new forklifts introduced to the workplace and when operator is not familiar with its instrumentation, control and operation; refresher course is also given when there are changes in workplace environment, there are season where operation is in full swing, operators must be given such training to prepare them.
Forklift operator performance evaluation must be performed every three years, the more frequent the better. It is also given every after preliminary training and after refresher training.
The evaluation of the forklift operator guarantees of their knowledge, competence and proficiency to drive the forklift safely.
How About Certification
Certification is given to each qualified operator every successful evaluation. This is the evidence that operator has went though the rigorous process of forklift training.
The trainee shall receive a certificate of course completion that include his name, date of the training, instructor’s name, date of evaluation, the name of the company and where the training was held.
In many cases, trainee can also be issued with a license, a wallet size card that resembles like a driver’s license. The operator can show it to OSHA representative when asked, or can be presented to prospective employer when looking for a job.
Components of Effective Training Program
There are four foremost and important aspects that must be tackled during forklift training. The overall risks and hazards involved in the operation of forklift truck, the particular danger that is involved in driving a particular type of fork truck, associated danger encountered in the workplace, the work environment and condition where operator are working in.
Each Forklift Truck Has Its Own Character
Each type of forklift has its own characteristics because of its design and purpose, it also has its own specific risk and danger when operating. To address these issues, the forklift training program must consists of determination and guidance associated with it. This is why when employer introduces new type of forklift, the operator must be trained specific to it.
Controls, functions, maintenance, and purpose vary from truck to truck. The operator must familiar himself for each of these topics. The intention of the forklift training is make sure that operator has gained enough knowledge to safely operate a particular type of forklift he is intending to use.
Forklift is Different from Automobile
The steering mechanism of forklift is very different from automobile. Control are different, it has much more complicated sets of buttons and lever. Obviously, forklift has different purpose than the car, the front wheels of the forklift support the carried load, the steering control becomes less controllable when loaded.