Aspects of a Good Training Program
Your forklift training program shouldn’t be treated as a mere formality. To reap the benefits, aspiring operators should receive comprehensive training that covers all the important aspects of forklift safety.
Forklift training should result in a demonstrated ability to operate powered industrial trucks safely. If not, drivers will get certified but won’t get the full knowledge they need.
Here’s what to include in your training program:
How To Avoid The Primary Causes of Forklift Deaths
Sure, everyone keeps on saying that operating the forklift is “dangerous;” however, a good training program doesn’t just allude to the risks, it identifies the main causes of accidents related to powered industrial trucks.
According to the National Traumatic Occupational Fatalities (NTOF) surveillance system, there are four types of incidents that lead to forklift mishaps:
The forklift overturns. This represents 22% of related deaths. Loss of forklift control could cause the vehicle to overturn and smash objects nearby. The main cause of this is a lack of familiarity with how the vehicle works.
A nearby worker is hit by the forklift’s moving parts. In 20% of forklift accidents, the driver’s life is spared, but an unlucky nearby worker gets hit fatally by the moving parts of the vehicle or its load.
The driver or a nearby worker gets crushed by the forklift. This is, by far, one of the most brutal ways to perish from a powered industrial truck mishap. The reality though, is that it happens in 16% of all forklift-related deaths.
A person falls from the forklift. This is the cause of 9% of all forklift fatalities.
By helping trainees identify the main causes of forklift injury and death, steps can be taken to prevent these conditions from happening. Your training program should then focus on showing trainees how to take precautions in order to avoid the top 4 causes of forklift deaths.
The Principles Of Physics That Empower The Forklift
While there’s no need for a physics class, a good training program should orient trainees on the basic principles that allow the forklift to lift heavy materials and loads. All employees should understand the weight of the forklift truck and how it affects its ability to slow down and stop.
Operators should understand the significance of the hydraulic and pulley system, the mechanisms that power the forklift, and the tipping risks involved with overloading the fork. They must also understand the stability triangle of forklifts and how the center of gravity impacts the handling characteristics of the forklift.
An understanding of the physical laws that govern the operation of the equipment will significantly reduce risk of personal injury.
How A Forklift Operates
The bulk of the entire training program should focus on teaching trainees how the forklift operates. It might seem “easy”, but it’s trickier than it seems. There are various types of forklifts. This means, there is no one-size-fits-all kind of training that teaches how to operate a specific brand or truck model.
A good training program discusses the important functionalities of the specific forklift that the worker will use. This can be done instead of showing general instructions on how to operate all kinds of forklift brands.
Here are some of the basic skills your training program must cover:
Pre-Shift Forklift Inspections
Forklifts must be inspected before each shift. Teach your employees to use your forklift inspection log to run a:
- Visual check of all operational components, including lights, tires, hoses, mirrors, fluid levels, filters, and fork and mast condition.
- Operational check to ensure proper working controls and functions.
Instruct your employees to document their pre-shift inspections and to immediately remove questionable forklifts from service. Your employees should understand the dangers of operating a faulty PIT and/or not labeling the forklift correctly if removed from service.
How To Move With and Without a Load
Trainees should be taught how to drive a forklift when carrying heavy loads. A powered industrial truck is in greater danger to cause accidents when it is moving with a heavy object. If the bulky load drops, property can be damaged, or lives can be lost. Moreover, if the driver doesn’t know how to move with a heavy load, the forklift may lose its balance and smash nearby objects and people.
On the other hand, drivers should also be oriented on how to move without a load. Driving the forklift too fast or turning too rapidly can present a lot of hazards. Therefore, best practices should be communicated to trainees, so they are able to prevent those hazards in the future.
How To Approach, Pick Up, and Stack A Load
The OSHA has recommended best practices on how to approach, pick up and stack heavy loads into the forklift. To summarize, here are the basic guidelines for approaching and picking up loads:
- Approach the load slowly and with caution
- Ensure the forklift is at a full stop and brakes are set
- Check if there is enough overhead clearance before picking up and lifting the load
- Make sure the vehicle is in the proper position
- Put the fork into proper position
- Pick up the load by adjusting the forks to distribute weight evenly
- Lift the load carefully and slowly
- Ensure the load is secure before moving
Of course, there are more specific instructions and practices needed to be learned in order to properly implement the above. The ideal training program should cover all the required steps outlined by the OSHA for full compliance.
Powered Truck Operation Under Special Considerations
Aside from the usual movements, lifting, lowering, loading and unloading, there are other special considerations that a forklift driver must be familiar with:
Working With Trailers. Drivers should be trained on how to load and unload trailer trucks using a forklift. There are many safety considerations when using powered industrial vehicles for trailer loading and unloading. A good training program should cover the best practices as well as the most common hazards that must be avoided.
Driving Across Ramps. Drivers should understand how to operate forklifts across ramps or elevated surfaces. The OSHA has specific requirements and measurements for dock ramps that can be used for forklift operation.
A safe distance must then be maintained from the forklift to the edge of the ramps. Ramps should also be ascended or descended slowly with the load facing uphill while the forklift is loaded and counterbalance facing uphill while unloaded.
There are other OSHA guidelines that govern the use of forklifts across ramps. For example, driving in reverse when going up on a ramp incline is recommended for forklifts without a load. This and many other compliance guidelines must be discussed in a forklift safety course or certification program.
Using The Elevator. A good forklift training program also shows how to use a powered industrial truck with elevators. Checking the overhead clearance and weight capacity of the elevator is mandatory. Safety precautions must be performed to avoid floor damage, overloading, and elevator accidents.
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