Are you thinking about purchasing your company’s first forklift? Or maybe you aren’t sure that your business is meeting national standards when it comes to lift truck training? Having well-trained lift truck drivers is crucial to both safety and efficiency. Let’s take a look at the basics of training for lift truck operators and see what you need to know.
Lift Truck Training Basics
In the US, the burden of training lift truck operators falls on the employer. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) considers it the employer’s responsibility to implement a training program, and to make sure forklift drivers are trained and skilled at operating these machines.
OSHA provides a list of training topics that need to be covered, although the topics can be varied somewhat for different industries and work environments. For example, focuses on different hazards and vehicle types may vary, but general principles of safe operation must always be covered. Both formal and practical training methods are required – meaning operators must both learn in a classroom setting with methods like lectures or videos, and they must learn with physical exercises and demonstrations.
After training, drivers must demonstrate their safe forklift operating abilities in an evaluation given by the employer.
If the thought of providing comprehensive training yourself sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. There are plenty of options available to help make sure your employees are well-trained, while keeping the process simple.
If you or someone on your team is qualified and confident about running training themselves, OSHA provides many free, comprehensive materials that can help you get started. A benefit to in-house training is that it can easily and comprehensively address site-specific hazards and other operating issues that are unique to your business.
Courses are available to help make sure the trainer feels prepared to teach, or you can opt for an entire prepackaged training kit. These kits usually contain materials like videos, tests, software and booklets that help conduct the course efficiently. However, these programs usually need to be supplemented to address site-specific issues.
Another option is to outsource the lift truck training altogether. Again, issues specific to your business will likely need to be supplemented, but outsourced courses are typically run by knowledgeable professionals and are often quite comprehensive.
Refreshers are Required
It is important to remember that lift truck training is not a “one and done” operation. OSHA notes that refresher training is needed whenever “an operator demonstrates a deficiency in the safe operation of the truck.” This can include a variety of situations, including the driver being assigned to a different type of lift truck, the occurrence of a near-miss accident or changes in the operation environment. And, even if the operator has a spotless record of safe driving, they must be evaluated by the employer at least once every three years.
Regardless of which training strategies and approaches you decide to employ, and regardless of your industry, forklift operator training is more than just a formality – it is a crucial safety measure. Not only does lift truck training (and training refreshers) help make sure your operation is running smoothly and efficiently, it helps ensure the safety of your drivers, the safety of other staff and it even helps protect your investment in equipment and materials.
If you are in the market for a new, used or leased forklift, contact the experienced team at Ranger Lift Trucks. We’ll help you find the perfect vehicle for your needs and for your team, and at the best deal. Call us today to learn more.