By Susan Comfort, product manager, narrow aisle products, The Raymond Corp.
June 14 marked National Forklift Safety Day, drawing attention to the importance of training programs and their necessity for successful operations. The most successful operations keep the attention on training year-round. Robust operator training can go beyond National Forklift Safety Day, improving operational efficiency and profitability in manufacturing plants and warehouses.
A few key considerations and best practices help establish and execute a successful forklift operator training program.
- Establish a set of tools. Training programs not only train forklift drivers to operate big pieces of equipment but also give them the tools to make good decisions while they’re driving. This helps drivers best understand the environment they’re driving in and provides situational awareness as they progress through the warehouse.
- Get support from above. A training program needs to be supported and promoted by a company’s management team. If the program is not backed by a leadership team, employees likely won’t take training seriously.
- Comply with standards. The training program must be consistent with all government regulations as well as with the company’s corporate standards. Because industry standards may change over time, maintenance of the training program is important for keeping it relevant and consistent with the latest industry standards.
- Facilitate machine-specific programs. Using training programs that are specific to your equipment helps assist employers in complying with their duty to properly train lift truck operators.
- Remember: Learning never ends. Training programs should be ongoing, serving as reminders to operators to help keep training at the forefront of their day-to-day activities. As part of that ongoing training, some level of reinforcement for the operation team also helps keep training and proper operation top of mind.
- Employ a knowledgeable instructor. Those facilitating the training should have experience not only in operating forklifts but also in conducting this type of training, as well as in evaluating operators and their competence.
- Train the trainer. Conducting train-the-trainer programs can further ensure instructors receive proper training and can conduct the program to a company’s standards. Often, trainers can travel to a forklift company’s headquarters and complete a multiday training program. This helps ensure the trainer is properly trained on the specific trucks the company uses and has the most up-to-date materials.
- See improved profitability. Often overlooked, good forklift operator training programs are imperative to the bottom line. Educating operators on how to properly use equipment will help save money in the long run, avoiding spending on product damage later on.
- Look at the whole picture. A good training program must be part of a comprehensive lift-truck program that focuses not only on training but also on lift-truck selection and maintenance and facility design.
If each of these best practices is considered when establishing a robust forklift operator training program, operators will have the tools and training needed to perform a productive and efficient job well beyond National Forklift Safety Day.
For more information about Raymond and its training programs, visit raymondcorp.com.