Safety officials say that the best results come from combining several of the training methods. One size does not fit all operations, nor does it meet OSHA requirements.
“If there is any kind of pre-packaged training kit, you have to supplement it by relating it to the safe operation of the kinds of fork trucks you use,” advises Kaletsky, the consultant. “If you want outsourced training, use it. But you can’t just use it unless you bring them into your place. You want these trainers in your place so they can see where the ramps and aisles are.”
J.J. Keller’s Bilitz says that training typically includes a video and an employee workbook. A pre-packaged kit would probably also include a computer-based learning product where the employee sits down and goes through a computer program.
However, she adds that such “stand-alone” training is not going to meet OSHA’s requirements because it is not equipment-specific or workplace-specific. The training would have to be used in conjunction with one of the other two training methods.
“There would need to be an instructor-led program in the workplace,” she says.
“That’s another concern with outsourced training where you send employees to a class. They may or may not learn on the same type of truck that they use in their workplace, and still it’s going to a class and learning to drive a truck. It’s not going to address the workplace-specific environment that they’re at, and it wouldn’t meet the OSHA requirements either.”
Train The Trainers
In-house training obviously involves the employer and the familiar surroundings where forklift operators will operate. The key is to have qualified people on board to conduct the training properly.
“Evaluation by the employer has to be done by observing the worker operating the equipment in the workplace,” advises J.J. Keller’s Bilitz. “So the employer’s going to have to be involved in the training.”
Such a scenario is easy “if you do have someone qualified to do the training who is competent, familiar with the equipment and experienced. Then you’re training on the equipment the people are going to be driving and they’re fully aware of the operational hazards in the workplace,” she says.
Trainers do not have to undergo an annual certification process or attend special schools. OSHA mandates that training and evaluation be conducted by “persons who have the knowledge, training and experience to train powered industrial truck operators and evaluate their competence.”
Kaletsky adds that OSHA offers free training materials on its Web site for employers to use (osha.gov).