Training is a Key Element for Forklift Safety

[tweetmeme]Each year, it is estimated that more than 37,000 forklift-related injuries occur in U.S. industry.  Injuries involve employees being struck by lift trucks or falling while standing or working from elevated pallets and tines.   Many employees are injured when lift trucks are inadvertently driven off loading docks or when the lift falls between a dock and an unchocked trailer.   For each employee injured, there are probably numerous incidents that are unnoticed or unreported to supervision.   All mishaps, no matter how small, are costly.   Most incidents also involve property damage.   Damage to overhead sprinklers, racking, pipes, walls, machinery, and various other equipment occur all too often.  In fact, millions of dollars are lost in damaged equipment, destroyed products, or missed shipments.

OSHA states that only properly trained and authorized personnel are to be allowed to operate Powered Industrial Trucks.  Training for forklift operators is to be completed initially before they are allowed to operate a forklift.  Employers are responsible for selecting and providing the proper training  to operators, inspectors, and maintenance personnel.   It is important that these individuals have the necessary training and are able and willing to perform their jobs properly.  All training needs  to be documented.

A key dimension of operator training is driver certification.  Operators are required to demonstrate their skills through training and adequate completion of skills tests which demonstrates that the operator can safely operator the equipment.  The operator needs to:

  1. know and understand the unit’s functional features,
  2. Be familiar with overall safety rules,
  3. Can identify specific safety factors at a dock and battery recharge station, and
  4. Must demonstrate overall driving skills.

 An evaluation of each powered industrial truck operator’s performance must be conducted:

  •  After initial training,
  • After refresher training, and
  • At least once every three years
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