Even simple hand tools can’t be used efficiently or safely by people not trained or experienced with them. Forklift trucks are complicated industrial machines that can be dangerous if used by people who are not trained. Lift trucks are not all the same. Even if you are trained on one type it does not mean you can operate any machine or do any job.
OSHA and ANSI require that formal training, specific to the place where you work, must be given to the forklift operator. On-the-job training must be a part of any training program, but it must really be training with close supervision, not just driving around or being assigned to a potentially dangerous job without gradual increases in difficulty.
When people successfully complete the training course, give them recognition for it. Issue authorization cards or jacket patches that show they are authorized operators, and if possible assign them to one truck that they have the responsibility for. Contact your dealer and battery manufacturer for help in putting together a training course suited to your operation and think about the following areas as they apply to the work you do:
Forklift Operator Safety Ideas
- How and where to perform daily truck inspections (OSHA regulation for every shift in multiple shift operations).
- Specialized trucks or attachments that you use (for example, roll clamp, ASME LP tank).
- Particular areas where hazards to pedestrians are created (for example, lunch room, entrance doors).
- Hazards that can’t be eliminated (for example, outside ramp with ice in shadow, low overhead clearance).
- Loading docks, rail cars or containers (for example, loading container with portable ramp).
- Plant traffic rules (for example, speed zones, right-of-way, one-way aisles).
- Procedures for reporting truck maintenance or repair problems (for example, forms, out-of-service tags).
- Special procedures for charging or changing batteries.
- Classified hazard areas are restricted to certain types of forklifts (for example, acetone barrels, cotton warehouse).
The examples above are intended to be thought joggers, not necessarily all of the things that need to be taught to your operators. Before putting your training course together, walk around the plant, look at your operations, and ask people who work there if they know of ways to teach the forklift operator how to become safer and more efficient.
Have any others points you’d like to make? We would enjoy hearing from you. Post your ideas or comments below, let’s start a dialog.
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