Web Articles   Digital Editions
Digital Edition Archives



Forklift Safety: Is Your Trainer Really Qualified?
When you are driving down the road and a large truck comes up behind your car, it is comforting to know the truck driver has the necessary skills to operate his vehicle, and that the people who qualified him took that job very seriously before issuing the license.

By David Hoover
Date Posted: 12/1/2005

When you are getting ready to fly on vacation, it is comforting to know that your pilot is well trained. He has had many hundreds — if not thousands — of hours of training, and the person who trained him also was highly skilled and qualified.

When you are driving down the road and a large truck comes up behind your car, it is comforting to know the truck driver has the necessary skills to operate his vehicle, and that the people who qualified him took that job very seriously before issuing the license.

Now enter the world of forklift training. Although I feel things have gotten better since I joined the industry in 1991, in my opinion there is vast room for improvement with regard to qualifying trainers.

Here are some problems with many forklift trainers:

1) What qualifies your trainer as a trainer?

Many trainers have received little, if any, training on the standards that apply, how to educate adult learners, how to motivate people to work safely, how to hold trainees’ interest and, most importantly, how to do the job they are expected to do.

Any forklift operator would make a decent trainer, right? Wrong; it takes the right person to make a good trainer.

I see things on the Internet all the time, claiming that anyone can be a forklift trainer with hardly any work involved. The last time I looked, no qualification worth having came easily or quickly. Would you trust your court case to a lawyer who got his degree in two days?

2) To whom does your trainer report?

Many trainers report directly to production managers, and therefore they are pressured to get the training done in the cheapest and quickest way possible, which most likely is not the best way.

There is no such thing as an ‘instant airline pilot.’ and that goes for forklift operators as well. Training takes time and money to complete. Hire them this morning and have them running the lift in the afternoon – it is just not going to happen safely, although I see it happen all the time.

3) How impartial is your trainer?

I have seen companies with over 1,000 forklift operators. If you ask when the last time someone did not pass an evaluation, they just laugh. I am not a gambler, but I know the odds are not in favor of everyone being qualified with that number of people.

If you have to keep your fishing buddy off the truck due to his lack of skills, you have just lost him as a friend. It is extremely hard to be impartial with people you work with every day since you tend to look at the person and not the skills. Unfortunately, that could get someone killed.

4) How much does your trainer train?

One lesson I have learned from golf is that you must practice for your skills to stay sharp. If you play golf once a year, or every few years, how sharp is your play going to be? If you play every week or several times a week, how sharp will you be?

The same can be said for forklift trainers; you either use it or you get rusty. Even larger companies with lots of operators don’t necessarily get all their trainers the reps they need to stay well oiled and current.

Look deeper than the letter of the law to see if your trainer really knows the way, shows the way and goes the way. Or is
he just going through the motions for the sake of minimum compliance?

(David Hoover is president of Forklift Training Systems. For more information on this or other topics related to forklift training, safety or products, contact David at (740) 763-4978, e-mail dhoover@forklifttrainingsystem.com, or visit the Web site at www.forklifttrainingsystem.com.)








Do you want reprints or a copyright license for this article?   Click here

Research and connect with suppliers mentioned in this article using our FREE ZIP Online service.