Without qualified forklift operators, many businesses would grind to a halt. Although the forklift is fairly commonplace piece of equipment, it plays a critical role in many businesses, especially manufacturing and warehousing operations of all shapes and sizes.
Considering that the U.S Department of Labor is projecting 12% growth in the warehousing and storage sectors in the period between 2008 and 2018, it seems prudent to discuss the importance of forklift training, since growth in these sectors will invariably increase the demand for trained forklift operators.
Although training is something that goes hand-in-hand with virtually every job, it is especially critical for certain industries and sectors. In relation to forklift training, training is somewhat unique in that operators must be taught operation and safety in accordance with OSHA (Occupational Safety And Health Administration). This government agency sets and enforces strict guidelines pertaining to job safety, something critical to forklift operation.
Industries that depend on forklifts understand all too well that forklift training and certification must be recognized by OSHA and that if a person were hired as an operator without meeting this criterion, a fine of $7,000 per unqualified operator would be possible. Obviously, a penalty of this magnitude is serious, which is just one reason that proper forklift training and certification are critical.
In addition, no matter what the industry uses forklifts, safety is always a major factor. One wrong move could lead to serious injury or even death, not to mention damage or destruction to property. Again, industries that use equipment of this kind have a full understanding of the importance of having operators with required knowledge, expertise, and skill to perform job functions.
Industries that Depend on Forklifts
Below are some examples of industries that now rely on the forklift and their operators for success. For lifting, stacking, and moving heavy items, a forklift, and qualified forklift operator, is crucial.
- Building and Construction Companies
- Government Agencies
- Grocery Stores
- Railroad Yards
- Retail Department Stores
- Shipping Yards
- Trucking Companies
- Big Box Stores
- The Transportation Industry
Forklift Operator Responsibilities
The list provided below is a good representation of what a forklift operator does and why forklift training in accordance with OSHA regulations is absolutely necessary. Keep in mind that this is not a complete list…
- Conduct pre-operation inspections to ensure safety and proper operation
- Manage/protect pallets, super sacks, and other materials
- Validate product/material weight with associated label/tag
- Report damaged goods, improper stacks, forklifts needing repairs, and potential safety hazards to appropriate management
- Oversee all aspects of loading and unloading materials when in a supervisory or management role
- Manage other forklift operators when in a supervisory or management role
Forklift Training Information and Certification
The exact type of forklift training will depend on the type of forklift equipment being operated. Training usually involves a combination of theory (classroom work) and practical application, which consists of actually using a forklift to perform a series of different tasks. Courses range from 3-5 days in length, depending on a number of options.
Outlined below is typical of forklift training (regardless of the educational institution involved).
- Introduction: Covers basic information; what the forklift is used for, types of industries that use it, benefits and challenges of the job, hazardous issues, job stability, and more.
- Equipment Knowledge: With this, you’ll learn about the forklift itself, including design, operation, and function
- Forklift Physics: To be a good operator, a person must understand both the abilities and the limitations of forklifts. Otherwise, loads could be unbalanced, tipping the forklift over and causing serious harm, damage, and even death.
- Forklift Operation: Hands on training. Lifting loads is another one of the primary functions of the forklift so as part of forklift training, overall operation would be covered.
- Forklift Safety: As mentioned at the beginning of this article, to operate this type of equipment you – as well as your employer – must be aware of OSHA regulations, thereby making it possible to follow them. A large part of forklift training involves safety as dictated by the OSHA.
- Maintenance: Operators are responsible for the maintenance of the equipment, which is another area of discussion which is covered in-depth.
- Refueling and Recharging: With this, you will gain knowledge for fueling and charging issues associated with the forklift.
With all forklift training complete, the next step would be in securing certification. Certification can be obtained online from resources such as the ForkLift Academy, and CertifyMe.net.
In addition to certification being mandated for operation of this type of equipment, it also ensures safety of the operator, other employees, and materials, product, and supplies being lifted and moved. Additionally, becoming certified means you’re likely to earn more, too!
Certifications remain in good standing for a period of three years from the last evaluation. Prior to forklift operator certification expiring, a new evaluation would be required for re-certification.
With all forklift training done and certification secured, the individual will receive two things. First, a certificate of achievement would be received for the person to hang proudly on a wall or placed in a frame at home. Second, a wallet card of that certificate of achievement would be sent out and carried as proof of skill.