Although forklift usage increases the efficiency of the loading/unloading and various other processes, many deaths and fatal injuries are caused by forklift operators, even at slow speeds making proper operator training crucial.
Forklifts are employed in most industrial and construction work for lifting, stacking, and transferring loads. Forklifts are powered industrial trucks and are known as lift trucks. They are utilized to move objects and boxes in various directions.
Forklifts can be operated by trained employees while riding in the truck or by controlling it from the outside (these lifts are called walking operators).
Hence, the cost of forklift employment in industry amounts to a substantial number in terms of human and financial loss.
Forklift accidents can be prevented by taking proper safety measures including enforcing forklift training and certification requirements.
Risks of Using Forklifts To Operators & Others In Area
Forklifts are designed to increase the efficiency of load transfer; hence they have compact designs, which may make them unstable during load transfer.
The stakes of an accident occur when a large amount of weight is loaded on a compact forklift in high-traffic areas in the workplace are high.
Moreover, different types of forklifts are prone to other kinds of accidents. The workplace environment is also crucial in making using forklifts even more hazardous.
Using forklifts requires special precautionary measures because of the risk of exposing passersby to the risk of forklift dangers.
Other accidents may be caused by the unintentional movement of forklifts, accidental falls of the forklift, knockouts against a lift truck, and falls from raising pallets or a prong.
Reducing Risks by Educating Operators on Forklift Training
As mentioned earlier, different types of forklifts require various preventive measures. The employers must ensure that the forklift operators are competent and experienced enough to handle a forklift, as OSHA does not especially certify them.
According to the OSHA website, it is illegal for anyone under 18 to operate forklifts or operate them without training and certification.
Employers are responsible for all the training and evaluation of forklift operators and the actual certification of the employees. In short, the employer has to certify the operator himself. The training, however, should meet the OSHA standards.
The training requirements outlined by OSHA necessitate that formal instruction is provided to the trainees, including lectures, discussions, computer-mediated learning, video aids, and other written documents.
Practical training, of course, is the crucial requirement of OSHA operator training standards for forklift operators, as it evaluates the employee’s workplace performance.
OSHA also requires that the forklift operators be trained by persons who have the required knowledge, expertise, and experience in handling forklifts and should know how to evaluate the trainee’s performance.
As per the standards defined by OSHA, the specifications for an evaluator are not very strict, and employers can easily employ forklift operators for training purposes.
Moreover, it further facilitates the employers, as they are not required to get a certification from OSHA but are responsible for the certification themselves.
However, it also entails that if an accident occurs regarding a forklift, the employer can be deemed directly responsible for it – implying negligence.
Then the employee has the right to seek compensation for any of their injuries. A skilled workers’ compensation lawyer might be necessary to ensure maximum benefits are received.
Essential Skills for Forklift Operators: Mastering the Art of Safe and Efficient Material Handling
Forklift operator requirements are crucial in ensuring the smooth and safe movement of goods within warehouses, construction sites, and other industrial settings.
To excel in this position, operators must possess a specific set of skills that allow them to operate forklifts with precision, safety, and efficiency. Below is a comprehensive forklift operator skills list that ensures safety:
- Proficient Operation: Mastery of forklift controls, including steering, acceleration, braking, and lifting mechanisms, is crucial. Operators should be able to maneuver the forklift in tight spaces, handle various loads, and operate the equipment smoothly and safely.
- Safety Awareness: Forklift operators must prioritize safety at all times. This includes understanding and following safety regulations, wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), conducting pre-operation inspections, and being mindful of their surroundings to prevent accidents and injuries.
- Load Management: The ability to properly assess loads, determine load capacity, and securely position and secure the load on the forklift’s forks is vital. Operators should be skilled in balancing loads, stacking materials safely, and distributing weight evenly to avoid tip-overs or instability.
- Spatial Awareness: Forklift operators need strong spatial awareness and depth perception to navigate through narrow aisles, tight corners, and crowded areas. They should have the ability to judge distances accurately and make precise movements while avoiding collisions with objects, people, or structures.
- Communication Skills: Effective communication is crucial for forklift operators, as they often need to coordinate with other team members, such as warehouse personnel or truck drivers. Clear and concise communication helps prevent misunderstandings, ensures efficient workflow, and enhances overall safety.
By honing these essential skills, forklift operators can enhance their performance, minimize the risk of accidents, and contribute to a productive and secure work environment.