OSHA’s specific training requirements for forklift operators are proven to increase safety in what is considered a relatively dangerous work environment — the warehouse. But did you know that hands-on training and observations are one of the best ways to ensure information is retained?
OSHA forklift training states that instruction and evaluation must include formal and practical training that concludes with an assessment of the operator’s performance in the workplace. More specifically:
- Forklift operators must be trained and certified to operate the vehicle they use in the workplace, and operator performance must be evaluated every three years.
- Refresher training is required by OSHA regulation 1910.178(l) when drivers are found to be operating in an unsafe manner, have been in an accident or near miss, score poorly on their 3-year evaluation, or if there are changes in the workplace or type of truck.
- It is estimated that 20 - 25% of the accidents are, at least in part, caused by inadequate training.
- Training should be personalized. Each of your forklift operators has specific skills where they excel and areas that need work.
Training should include written guidance but focus on hands-on instruction backed by checklists to ensure that the required training and evaluations take place.
- Demonstrate inspection of the forklift and how to complete the safety checklist.
- Discuss proper fork height and forklift safety, i.e., mounting, seat belts, hand placement, back up alarm, horn, lights, and stopping and starting procedures.
- Review requirements of the stop-honk-go protocol through doorways, end of aisles, and passageways.
- Walk operator through the forward and backward slalom driving course evaluation. Discuss where cones are located and explain how to make the turns correctly.
- Instruct the operator about safety and forklift requirements in handing a load, i.e., how to approach the load, fork placement to ensure a secure load, the proper forklift depth in skid to balance the load, how to lift the load to the appropriate height, tilting the mast for safe pick-up and drop-off of load, and how to lower the load.
- Operator must demonstrate proper forklift safety, including safety inspection and checklists, mounting, seat belts, and all safe operation protocols.
- Operator must demonstrate skill and knowledge throughout the test course, i.e., proper turns around cones, avoiding impact, slowing down and sounding the horn at cross aisles and blind spots, and observing speed limits.
- Operator must understand and demonstrate safely lifting a load, it’s placement, and the tilt and height required to avoid tipping the forklift. Safe lowering and placement of the load must be completed.
- Operator must demonstrate proper stopping of the forklift, use of the emergency brake, and safe dismount from the vehicle.
Keep training and evaluation simple, hands-on, and tailored to what each operator needs. Advanced telematics can be instrumental in monitoring and determining forklift operator training needs, documenting skill deficits and warning you when certifications will expire.