There were over 7,200 nonfatal forklift injuries in 2020 alone. Those injuries cost companies money in the form of medical expenses for injured employees, damage to product, and interruptions to workflow.
If you want to minimize the likelihood of these issues at your company, then prioritizing forklift safety is a must. One of the most effective ways to do that is by investing in forklift training.
We’ve put together this article to help you understand the ins and outs of forklift safety training so that your company can minimize operator risk. Keep reading to learn more.
Understanding Forklift Training
Forklift training is often legally required, and your business may be fined if it allows non-trained operators to drive this machinery. The goal of training is typically for the worker to earn a license, which is also sometimes referred to as a certification.
The requirements to earn a license vary. But many companies use OSHA’s standard, which requires the completion of a forklift training class and periodic updates to refresh key skills.
That being said, you may want to check with your state’s legal requirements for operating this kind of machinery because they can vary.
What Makes a Good Forklift Operator?
Forklift safety is a learned skill that takes training. But this training isn’t just about teaching someone the controls of a forklift. It should also involve helping them build a safety-focused mindset to avoid Forklift injuries.
There are several major skills that go into this.
Strong Operating Skills
Above all else, a forklift operator needs to be extremely comfortable using all of the different controlling mechanisms on one of these machines. The more capable they are in maneuvering the forklift, the less likely they are to have an accident while operating one.
Communication is a key component of forklift safety as well. Forklifts are typically used in warehouses, loading docks, and other highly trafficked areas. Accidents can occur when communication isn’t used.
For example, a forklift operator may need to shout when they’re coming around a corner to alert any workers who may be on the other side of it.
They’ll also often need to communicate with supervisors and managers. That way, key leaders have the opportunity to clear certain areas out when they are going to be used by a forklift operator.
Ability to Perform Under Pressure And Adapt
People who operate forklifts are often under pressure to get their work done as quickly as possible. This can create scenarios in which the need for speed overshadows the operator’s focus on safety.
That’s why it’s also important for a forklift operator to be able to perform under pressure. They should be able to handle stressful timelines and tasks without losing their cool and forgetting their training.
Likewise, they should also be able to adapt and continue operating a forklift safely as the situation that they’re in evolves.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Forklift License?
Employees often wonder how to become forklift certified. But the answer can vary based on the state that they’re in and the specific ways that they will be tasked to use the forklift.
That being said, it typically doesn’t take long to earn a forklift license. To do so, an operator will usually need to complete some classroom training and then get some experience with the machine itself.
This can be completed within a few days at most. The operator will usually just need to pass a final forklift operation test before they can officially earn their license. But the training must be overseen by a qualified individual in order for it to count.
One thing to note is that it’s illegal for anyone under 18 to operate a forklift. So if you want to train a younger worker, make sure that you wait until their 18th birthday at least.
Are There Continuing Education Refreshers for Veteran Forklift Operators?
One of the biggest mistakes that companies make is assuming that they never need to worry about forklift training again once someone has become certified. But that’s not usually the case.
OSHA and some states require refresher training courses in order to maintain forklift compliance. These usually must take place every three years and must be overseen by a qualified individual.
That being said, some incidents may prompt you to refresh your workers’ forklift training more often than what’s required by OSHA.
For example, you might have a close call during which a forklift operator almost injures someone or ruins valuable products. You may also experience several minor incidents in rapid succession, which could indicate that your team has forgotten some of its training.
Being proactive about refresher courses is a major key to forklift safety. It’s never a bad thing to give your team a refresher, and the more often you do it, the likelier the training is to stick in their minds.
How Can AOTC Help with Forklift Training Programs?
It can be difficult to create and maintain a strong forklift training program from within your organization. Managers are busy with a million other things, and many won’t have the time that’s necessary to create an effective and ongoing forklift training program.
That’s where organizations like AOTC come in. We specialize in this kind of training and can help companies maintain their forklift compliance so that they don’t face any fines and minimize their risk of costly accidents.
An AOTC training program will be built around your company’s unique legal obligations, policies, and procedures. We use training classes that feature:
- Multimedia presentations
- Competency Evaluations
- And more
It’s also worth mentioning that a lot of research backs up the idea that workers are more motivated when they feel their employers have taken measures to keep them safe. This means that investing in a more robust forklift training program could even help you get more out of your workforce.
The bottom line is that partnering with an organization like AOTC makes it easier to prioritize forklift safety within your business.