Forklift Safety & Training – Why is it important?

Importance of Forklift Training

 A forklift is a powerful tool that allows the movement and storage of product and materials efficiently and safely, provided that the employer provides the correct equipment and properly trains its operators.

Each year forklift accidents result in the loss of life, significant personal injuries and damages to products and property.  Most forklift accidents are the result of driver error. 

There is great risk of injury or death when a forklift operator:

  • Has not been trained in the principles of physics which allows a forklift to lift and move heavy loads;
  • Is not familiar with how a particular forklift operates;
  • Operates the forklift carelessly; or
  • Uses a forklift that is not safe due to malfunctioning or missing parts.

Federal OSHA has stated that accidents and product damage have decreased statistically over the last several years as a result of operators understanding how their equipment works and the physics of moving and lifting product and materials.

How do we control these accident rates?  The answer is obvious: TRAINING, TRAINING, TRAINING!

Based on our experience, businesses that have instituted proper safety training and  maintenance of their  forklifts benefit from increased proficiency, cleaner operations, increased equipment life and lower costs for down time.  These best practices decrease the likelihood of injuries to operators and damage to equipment and property.

When observing an operator using material handling equipment, ask the following: 

  • Is  the driver wearing a seat belt?
  • Is the operator driving at safe speeds?
  • Does the driver sound the horn when approaching blind spots, end of aisles or backing up?
  • When transporting a load, is the load 6” to 10” off of the floor?
  • Is the driver’s visibility blocked?
  • Does the operator use a spotter when the load is blocking his visibility?

Companies that do not emphasize safety and ongoing training of their drivers are easy to spot with this quick observation.

What do you need to do to improve your facility and make it safe and efficient?

  1. Management must commit to the concept of a safe operation. Employees will generally reflect management’s attitude towards safety.
  2. Implement an approved OSHA Safety Training Program. A good program will include OSHA regulations and concepts to give your operators the understanding needed to safely utilize the equipment. 
  3. Hands on driver training should be handled as one would handle training a person to operate an automobile. Generally, a new driver will not know how to operate the automobile properly with just an initial training session.  Training should be done over a period of time with a trained operator observing and instructing the new operator.  Allow the new operator to operate the material handling equipment when not under pressure to get the product in the racking or to unload a trailer.  A new operator needs adequate time to learn the equipment.
  4. Make sure you have the correct material handling equipment to do the job properly and safely.   The equipment should be clean, serviced and maintained correctly.  The equipment should be new enough to incorporate up-to-date safety features.  Remember with old equipment down time and costs to repair often outweigh the cost of new equipment.
  5. Properly trained operators must perform routine maintenance checks before each shift as required by OSHA.  One of the benefits is that your operators will suggest items that need to be looked at by a technician and identify issues before they become major problems.  Properly maintained equipment will last longer and cost less to maintain over the life of the unit.

If you are an employer or manager with employees who operate material handling equipment, you must under the law provide adequate training and a safe environment for your forklift drivers.  See Occupational Safety & Health Admin., U.S. Dept of Labor 29 CFR 1910.178(I)(1)(I):  “The employer shall ensure that each powered industrial truck operator is competent to operate a powered industrial truck safely, as demonstrated by the successful completion of the training and evaluation specified in the paragraph (I)”.   Section (I)(1)(ii) states “Prior to permitting an employee to operate a powered industrial truck (except for training purposes), the employer shall ensure that each operator has successfully completed the training required by this paragraph (1)….”

Quality Lift Trucks offers forklift training sessions at your location that is site specific and equipment specific as required by OSHA. Training shall consist of a complete video review of the entire OSHA Federal Regulation 29CFR1910.178, Powered Industrial Trucks, Operator Workbook, pre-shift Safety Inspections, Written Test and Driving Evaluation Test(s). After each operator has successfully completed OSHA’s training requirements and for those forklift operators that can demonstrate safe driving skills and practices on a daily basis, Authorization Cards and Certificates of Completion can be issued by the employer to the forklift operator(s). Contact us at (619) 425-1640 for pricing and to schedule your safety training class.