In the material handling world, forklifts are essential pieces of equipment. They can lift and move things that humans cannot. They come in many forms and do different kinds of work, but they’re all big, heavy, and potentially dangerous. The power and weight of forklifts make this machinery dangerous. The work they perform also makes them hazardous, and that’s why they should be treated with respect. It’s important to know how to operate a forklift in a safe and responsible way to lessen the risk of accidents and injuries. OSHA forklift training requirements are in place to help companies design and implement training courses, so their employees learn the right way. The reasons to become forklift certified are many; read this small sampling, and expand your knowledge base.
The old adage “time is money” rings true in the material handling industry. Products need to move quickly from one point to another. Properly trained and certified workers are more productive and efficient. A trained and certified workforce will help keep things moving on the job. When forklift drivers are set up for success from day one with the proper training, they can better perform their jobs. Proper training will give new drivers the skills and confidence they need to perform at a top level and stay productive. Certification not only gives the necessary training to employees, it gives a sense of accomplishment, pride, and confidence at the controls.
Follows the Law
Having trained and certified forklift operators isn’t just good for production and safety, it’s the law. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a division of the Department of Labor, requires that anyone who operates a forklift must have a certification. The mission of OSHA is “to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance”. If any company violates the laws OSHA has set, the fines are pretty stiff. An employee found operating without a certification can expect a fine around $7,000. It’s the employer’s responsibility to make sure all operators become certified. The company will face fines and disciplinary actions if operators do not have the proper training, too. In 2016, the maximum penalty for repeated OSHA violations rose to over $126,000.
Extends Machine Life
A forklift is an expensive piece of equipment. Replacing them every other year is not a good business practice. A best practice in the industry is to maintain your forklifts and keep them in good condition. You can add some years to the life of all forklifts by taking care of them properly and promptly. Adding routine maintenance techniques to a training program will give drivers the knowledge on how to take care of their equipment. An operator’s ability to spot worn parts will keep the lift from breaking down and being put out of service, as well. A knowledgeable operator will know the warning signs of damage and know what steps to take.
Starts Good Habits
When new hires come in, it’s a good idea to get them started out on the right foot. It’s important to provide the support and structure necessary for every worker to be successful in their role. Uniformity in training will ensure all your forklift drivers practice the same safe, responsible driving habits. When you have an established training program, it will give all the drivers the same education and knowledge base. They will know how to safely and properly operate the specific forklifts for that facility or warehouse.
Reduces Lost Inventory
No matter what kind of material or products move around the facility, the safety of that inventory is paramount. If products get damaged by inexperienced forklift drivers, it’s not good for business. A properly trained operator will know how to safely transport materials, so they don’t get damaged. Having to discard and write off damaged inventory because a rookie driver speared the pallet will also add to overall costs. Fully trained and confident operators will be less likely to damage goods or cause accidents. Accidents happen to everyone, though, but you can mitigate those risks by properly training a competent and skilled workforce.
Increases Employee Safety
The number one priority of any business is safety because an injured worker can’t work. The main goal of every successful company is to keep them safe and reduce lost time from injuries. Training forklift drivers the right way is important for their own safety and those around them. Following the guidelines set forth by OSHA is a good place to start. On-the-job injuries and fatalities can happen in an instant, which makes proper training even more important. Show forklift drivers the consequences of horseplay and bad habits. The realities of sustaining forklift injuries are stark and can go beyond a scratch and hurt pride. People lose their lives in forklift accidents every year. When taught how to operate a forklift the right way, the driver is less likely to develop bad habits.
Increases Cost Savings
Accidents have a high cost. Costs go up in human capital, lost time, damage to product, and damage to equipment. You’ll also lose time investigating after an accident occurs. Finding out what happened, why it happened, who has injuries, and how bad the injuries are is time better spent elsewhere. A damaged forklift must also be put out of service, so it can be repaired. If the damage necessitates repairs, the machine can’t do any work until it’s fixed or replaced. Damaged products can be replaced, but people cannot. Take the time from the outset, and train the operators to have safe driving habits.
The Bottom Line
Certifying and training the forklift drivers in your facility is not only the smart thing to do, it’s the law. Skilled, qualified workers allow your business to run efficiently. The amount of lost time from accidents will decrease because the operators know how to work safely. The amount of time equipment is out of service will go down because operators will know how to maintain the machines. Keep your workforce informed, and give them every tool necessary to become successful forklift operators.