Forklift Certification Explained (And Why It’s Important For Your Business)

Forklift certification is essential. Suppose you’ve worked in small to medium-sized businesses. In that case, you know that sometimes the comfort of a small workforce can turn into an attitude where the owner expects certain liberties with legislation. This sort of situation translates to asking staff to do things that they may not have formal training in – like operating a forklift.

Forklift certification is vital to ensuring staff is adequately trained in safe practices. The forklift certification process is relatively straightforward and cost-effective for businesses to reduce liability and produce well-trained staff. The benefits of safety always outweigh the minor cost of training.

To ensure you’ve got a good understanding of the training process, benefits, and features of a well-trained forklift operating workforce, we’ll briefly cover these topics here today. That way, you can quickly get the information you need to get back to managing your team. Let’s dive in.

Why Forklift Certification Training Is Important

The following reasons why forklift certification is essential are in no particular order, but all are important to consider.

  1. Safety

The most essential reason to train your staff correctly on forklifts or other industrial-powered lift trucks is safety. In the United States, 74 workers lost their lives to forklift accidents, and another 9,050 forklift-related workplace injuries or illnesses resulted in lost-time accidents. Keep your staff trained, and keep your staff safe. (source)

  1. Liability

As mentioned earlier, some companies in regions where forklift training is not mandatory will ask their staff to operate this dangerous machinery without formal training. It is a mistake usually made by smaller businesses and can cost you dearly.

Most countries, such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and others, have laws to protect worker safety and promote safe working conditions. Smaller companies often overlook these laws, but the fact remains that in most regions, government officials expect you, the business owner or manager, to do your due diligence to provide a safe workplace.

What does this mean for your liability? Well, if one of your workers requests forklift training and is denied, then proceeds to have an accident, the courts are likely to side with the staff, regardless of a lack of legislation forcing training upon the employer/team member.

What Does The Law Say?

In the United States, OSHA presides over the labor force regarding employee safety and rights. The OHSA regulations regarding forklift operation in the United States are as follows.

  1. No person under the age of 18 shall operate a powered industrial truck (forklift).
  2. No person over 18 who does not have proper training and certification shall operate a powered industrial truck.

The above is a copy of the downloadable sticker available from the OSHA website.

In Canada, legislation regarding adequate training for forklift operations is muddy compared to the United States. In some provinces, such as Ontario, an individual can operate a forklift without a license. Yet, the neighboring province of Quebec states that a forklift operator must have taken training, including operation, safety, and a few other vital items. (source)

The United Kingdom has different rules, yet when it comes to forklift operation and training. The Health and Safety Executive presides over the rules here. They state that employers are legally obligated to train staff on the use of equipment used for work. This training does not have to be a third party and can be completed in-house. (source)

How To Get Your Staff Forklift Certified – The Right Way

Depending on your business’s operation, you might be tempted to speed up forklift certification by fast-tracking staff through a rushed training program. There have even been cases where employers forged forklift operation training certificates to expedite staff returning to work.

These sorts of underhanded means of bypassing liability do nothing for a company except increase their liability, truth be told. And whether it’s the OSHA or the Health and Safety Executive, no governing body looks kindly upon businesses who cut corners to expedite staff work.

In the United States, although forklift training is mandatory to operate the equipment in a workplace legally, there is no legislative body to oversee ensuring that the forklift trainers are legit. And the OSHA does nothing to certify or accredit trainers as OSHA legitimately approved forklift operation trainers.

The lack of legislation regarding the accreditation of forklift trainers in the US means that there is a rather large grey area for businesses to take advantage of a loophole in the law. Businesses often utilize their staff to train would-be forklift operators. The danger here is that businesses might feel they can print their forklift certifications and never bother focusing on the safety aspects necessary to train fully competent operators.

The other issue with in-house training is that it also keeps liability in-house. Should a team member become injured by a forklift, they could claim that the in-house training was inadequate. The company would be self-serving to claim the team member is incorrect; it opens the door for potential legal battles that most managers would prefer to avoid.

The best solution here is for you to use a respected third-party forklift training company. It leaves the liability on the third-party company to supply adequate safety training paid for by your business. It would be implied that the training must be comprehensive and complete; otherwise, the company providing the training might be a false advertising situation.

Check forklift training companies’ reviews, and try to ascertain the nature of their training – is it complete and safety-oriented, or are they just another back-door company printing certifications for a few dollars? You need to assess the validity of a trainer’s ability before commencing with setting up training schedules. The quality of the training will only be as good as the quality of knowledge and ability of the trainer to communicate it to your staff.

4 Tips For Easier Management Of Forklift Operations

Operating a business with one or more industrial lift trucks, also called forklifts, can sometimes be challenging. Lowering your staff’s risk to health and safety while pushing for an efficient (fast) workplace is a juggling act that many struggles with balancing.

We’ve compiled and summed up some of the best tips to help you with forklift management within your business. Take a look below.

  1. Perform Daily Pre-Use Vehicle Inspections
  2. Schedule Annual Refresher Training
  3. Train All Staff Who Work In Vicinity – Not Just Operators
  4. Use A Digital Reporting Solution For Forklift Inspections

Perform Daily Pre-Use Vehicle Inspections

To inspect the vehicle thoroughly, it is essential to the safety of all staff who work in, on, or around forklifts. Each operator should perform an inspection on any forklift or industrial lift truck that they will operate.

Even if a staff member only uses a piece of equipment momentarily, they must check it first. Something as simple as a crack in the mast hydraulic lift line could cause an incident that kills someone. For this and the plethora of other reasons it is needed, have your forklift operators complete a vehicle walkaround inspection before forklift operation.

Schedule Annual Refresher Training

Staff is only human. And humans forget things. We become complacent when repetition has a grip on our lives. And a repetitious job of inspecting a forklift every day can result in the staff missing items that could be a source of hazard.

The solution to this issue is not to try to change your staff. They are human and will continue to be human. However, you can help them remember the basics by having an annual safety refresher course. Have either an outside third-party company come in or have your safest operators run the refresher. The concept here is to maintain a level of awareness amongst your staff where safety is concerned. A great way to do this is by hosting weekly, monthly, or another schedule of toolbox talks with your staff to refresh them on the most crucial safety processes and procedures.

Train All Staff Who Work In Vicinity – Not Just Operators

Sometimes injuries occur around forklifts not because of the operation but because of the careless actions of those who are untrained in the vehicle’s safe use and operation.

Take the example of a careless team member walking around with headphones in or a sales rep chatting on their cell with a client – often oblivious to their surroundings. These staff can unknowingly wander into a forklift lane at an unseen point and find themselves struck by the vehicle.

Training staff on the safe operation and dangers of heavy equipment like industrial lift trucks is essential for raising staff awareness of the potentially dangerous situations that could arise, risking their health and safety.

Use A Digital Reporting Solution For Forklift Inspections

Daily vehicle inspections are essential for spotting hazards, damage, and other issues which might affect the safe operation of an industrial lift truck. However, a big problem many businesses have is maintaining a clean and orderly record of the daily vehicle inspections.

Staff who operate forklifts are often callous when it comes to maintaining clean and legible vehicle inspections. The case is more accurate than not in any workplace where things get dirty fast – like a steel working plant, machine shop, or any other industrial sort of workplace environment. These work environments are notorious for producing barely legible, often incomplete daily inspection reports.

Most workplaces these days provide their staff with smartphones or even tablets. Even when your company does not, it is worth considering obtaining a tablet with reporting systems, like the 1st Incident Reporting application.

Using a digital reporting solution like 1st Incident Reporting will allow your company to maintain flawless records, never a fear of grime or dirt corrupting the inspection documentation.

Furthermore, a digital reporting solution like 1st that includes automation via customizable notification settings will allow you to set up a notification to the correct supervisor. When a forklift inspection report is completed, a notification is sent to the right person. Think of how you can not only monitor report completion via the notification settings but think how you could also view the report seconds after its completion from wherever you are. Why? Because this system is cloud-based, you can jump into the platform as long as you have an internet connection.

The platform works on most devices, including Android and iOS devices. So again, as long as you have one of the multitude of compatible devices and an internet connection, this app will work beautifully to fulfill your company’s reporting needs.

However, the best solution is for you to take the app for a test drive yourself and see how the incident, inspection, and auditing solution can help your business efficiently expedite your health and safety inspections and other auditing needs.

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