Proper operator training is mandatory in order to ensure safety in the workplace. “The most critical approach to reducing the likelihood of accidents involving lift trucks in the workplace is for employers to ensure that each powered industrial lift truck operator is competent to operate a powered industrial truck safely by successfully completing a training and evaluation program as mandated by OSHA,” says Martin Boyd, vice president of marketing, product planning & training of Toyota Material Handling, Irvine, CA.
OSHA standards require all employers evaluate their lift truck employees every three years, and if they observe unsafe behavior or the evaluation reveals an issue, they are required to get retraining. During this training, each employee will learn how to properly use and maintain a truck lift in order to prevent an accident from occurring. This type of training includes many forms of instruction including: formal instruction through lectures and discussions. This classroom atmosphere will help employees get an overall knowledge about how to operate a lift truck, but lectures and discussions aren’t enough. Practical training, which involves a hands-on experience, will also be included in the training program.
“We train to reinforce specific behaviors, which reduce the risks of accidents,” says Rick Grossert, manager, operator & technical training at Nissan Forklift, Marengo, IL.
Although training is an extremely vital step for preventing accidents, some experts feel that standard OSHA training isn’t enough. “With many operators, there is a false sense of security that comes with successfully completing an operator training program and if left unaddressed, there may be fatal consequences,” says Fleetman’s McLeod.
McLeod, like many other experts, believe certain technological lift truck equipment should be made mandatory instead of optional, such as a lift truck scale. Implementing a mandatory scale will help assist employees to prevent overloading from occurring.
“The lift truck should be made to be more responsible for the protection of each and every operator and if this was the case, there would be less injuries and less fatalities in the workplace today,” says McLeod. Other ways to ensure safety while using a lift truck is to make sure proper maintenance and inspections are completed frequently to ensure the lift truck is up to par.
“The best piece of safety equipment on any powered industrial truck is a well-trained operator,” concludes Paul Fiala, sales training manager at Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift America Inc., Houston. d