An untrained operator of a forklift can be as dangerous as an unlicensed operator of a motor vehicle.
OSHA regulations require that the employer ensure that a forklift operator is competent to operate the forklift he or she is assigned to use. Training must be conducted by a competent person.
The employer must document operator training and an evaluation of the operator’s performance while using the forklift.
Initial forklift training has three parts:
Formal instruction may include a lecture, discussion, interactive computer learning, videotape and/or written material (can be taken anywhere).
Practical training includes hands-on demonstration(s) by the trainer and exercises by the trainee (on the model of forklift the worker will use). Trainees may operate forklifts only
under direction of a competent trainer, in a learning environment where doing so will not endanger the trainee or other employees. Be sure to set up a safe training area for practice.
Evaluation of the effectiveness of the training by observing the operator’s performance using the forklift should be conducted in the actual workplace. This evaluation must be repeated
at least once every three years (must be at workplace each time).
Refresher training must be given if the operator has been involved in an accident, near miss or unsafe operations. Also, if an operator is assigned to a new type of forklift or if workplace
conditions change that could affect safety, then refresher training is required.
The employer may use the services of a qualified third-party trainer or formally designate and authorize an employee as a competent person to conduct the training. A competent person has
demonstrated competency through knowledge, training and experience to train and evaluate forklift operators.
The trainee can only operate the forklift when directly supervised by a competent person and when this would not endanger anyone.
Forklift operators must be trained in the operating instructions, warnings and precautions for the types of forklifts they will be authorized to use. The topics listed below must be covered
when training a forklift operator. If a specific topic does not apply to the forklift in the employer’s workplace, covering it is optional.
Check out this short audio clip by Dan Clark of the theSafetyBrief.com. Forklift violations can be dangerous to workers, and lead to costly OSHA citations. Listen for some of the top forklift violations, and how to avoid them.
General Forklift Training Topics
Additional general forklift training topics include:
differences between the forklift and an automobile
vehicle controls and instrumentation: Where they are located, what they do and how they work
engine or motor operation
steering and maneuvering
visibility (including restrictions due to loading)
fork and attachment adaptation, operation and use limitations
vehicle capacity and stability
vehicle inspection and maintenance that the operator will be required to perform
refueling and/or charging and recharging of batteries
Workplace-Specific Training Topics
Workplace-specific training topics that should be covered include:
surface conditions where the vehicle will be operated
composition of loads to be carried and load stability
load manipulation, stacking and unshackling
pedestrian traffic where the vehicle will be operated
narrow aisles and other restricted places where the vehicle will be operated
hazardous (classified) locations where the vehicle will be operated
ramps and other sloped surfaces that could affect the vehicle's stability
closed environments and other areas where insufficient ventilation or poor vehicle maintenance could cause a buildup of carbon monoxide or diesel exhaust
other unique or potentially hazardous environmental conditions in the workplace that could affect safe operation
hands-on demonstration using the type of vehicle that the operator will actually be using
changes in workplace conditions that could affect safe operation (e.g., new trenches, new worker access routes, or new staging areas on construction sites)
Refresher PIT-forklift training may be required if any of the following situations exist:
The supervisor observes the operator driving the forklift in and unsafe manner, such as riding with the load too high or traveling at an unsafe speed.
The operator has been involved in an accident or near-miss incident.
The operator has received an evaluation that reveals he or she is not operating the forklift safely.
A workplace condition changes in a way that could affect safe operation of the forklift.
The operator has been assigned to drive a different type of forklift.
Retraining May Not Be The Answer
In some instances, progressive discipline may be the appropriate response to observed operator performance. Retraining may not be the proper response to inadequate operator performance
if any of the following situations exist:
The operator has successfully completed previous training, and the training is appropriate to the truck and working conditions encountered.
The operator has been evaluated and found competent to operate the truck safely.
The supervisor determines that adequate training, resources, and other support has been provided.
The employee is engaging in horseplay while driving the forklift.
Retraining may include some or all of the following information, as necessary:
common unsafe situations encountered in the workplace
unsafe operating methods observed or known to be used
the need for constant attentiveness to the vehicle, the workplace conditions, and the manner in which the vehicle is operated
Performance Test for Forklift Operators
Prior to qualifying an operator, it’s important to evaluate performance to determine any areas of deficiency in knowledge or skills.
Here is a sample performance checklist for use in the evaluation phase of operator
qualification. You should include this evaluation as part of the operator certification. The operator must perform each of the actions below to the satisfaction of the evaluator to qualify.
Any areas of deficiency in knowledge or skills must result in operator retraining.
The employer should formally certify that each operator has been trained and evaluated. The employer should do the following to properly document the training.
The written certification should include, at a minimum, the name of the operator, the date of the training, the date of the evaluation, and the identity of the person(s) performing the training or evaluation.
The operator must have been evaluated in the current workplace within the last three years.
If the operator had previous forklift training, the employer must document that the training covered the required topics described above.
The employer must keep a record that shows that each forklift operator has been trained. We recommend keeping training records for as long as the operator is employed plus at least
five additional years or as the employer deems appropriate.
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