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Understanding Training Requirements for Forklift Operators

Training for Forklift OperatorsForklifts are employed in most industrial and construction work for lifting, stacking and transfer of 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 the operator while riding in the truck or by controlling it from the outside (these operators are called walking operators).
Although, forklift usage increases the efficiency of the loading/unloading and various other processes, a large number of deaths and fatal injuries are caused by forklifts, even at slow speeds. 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.

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 at times. The stakes of accident occurrence 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 different types of accidents. The workplace environment is also a crucial factor in making the use of forklifts even more hazardous. Use of 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 Training the Operators

As it has been mentioned earlier, different types of forklifts require different precautionary measures. It falls upon the employers to ensure that the operators are competent and experienced enough to handle a forklift, as OSHA does not especially certify forklift operators. According to the OSHA website, it is illegal for any person under 18 to operate forklifts or operate them without training and certification. Employers are responsible for all the training as well as evaluation of operators and for 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 are provided to the trainees that may include 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 the operators, as is an evaluation of the employee’s performance in the workplace.

OSHA also requires that the 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. However, as per the standards defined by OSHA, the specifications for an evaluator are not very strict and employers can easily employ 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. This, however, also entails that if an accident takes place regarding a forklift, the employer can be deemed directly responsible for it – implying negligence.