Forklifts

Forklift Safety: What You MUST Teach, and the Best Way to Teach It

Both OSHA and best practices mandate what a forklift operator must know. And effective training techniques mandate the best way to teach it … in action.

Yesterday’s Advisor began a discussion about forklift safety and operator training. We noted that while OSHA has a comprehensive standard on forklift training, the regulation includes no provision for certifying that the trainer knows the least bit about what he or she is doing. As DC Velocity, the logistics industry magazine that broke the story noted, “anyone can hang out a sign, print up business cards, and call himself (or herself) a forklift driver trainer.”

It follows, then, that if you’re not sure of your trainers’ expertise in forklifts or their ability to teach, you need to be sure about the training materials they use. They may very well have to supplement what a trainer lacks.


Don’t just tell forklift operators what to do. Show them with action footage on DVD in BLR’s Training Solutions Toolkit: Forklift Safety. Read more.


The business publishing industry does have standards for training material. “Such materials need to be both comprehensive in information and organized in presentation,” said one BLR editor, experienced in training program design. “They’ve also got to motivate so trainees are open to the learning.”

Here’s some of what forklift operators need to learn:

  • The key parts of a lift truck, including the carriage, mast, chassis, and controls. Special attention should be paid to the truck’s data plate, with its vital information on load capacity and load center.

  • How to carry out the legally required preoperation inspection, from wheels up to top cage, looking for any signs of defect, excessive wear, or improper function, at the start of each day or shift.
  • Safe loading and unloading. Operators need to learn how to assess a variety of loads in a variety of situations, including moving to and from high-stack locations, and in and out of trucks or railcars. They must understand the essential concept of how center of gravity impacts forklift operation, preferably by seeing it demonstrated. Also, they need to understand proper centering of the load, how high to carry it, and how to use the truck’s ability to tilt its mast for more secure transport.
  • Safe driving. Drivers must be trained in the proper way to negotiate turns, ramps, bridge plates, railroad tracks, and other uneven surfaces or potential hazards. Effective training also covers the maximum speed a lift truck should travel, the effect of rear wheel steering, and what dangers a moving forklift holds not only for its operator but also fellow workers or bystanders.

  • BLR’s Training Solutions Toolkit: Forklift Safety on DVD comes to you satisfaction assured! Click for details.


  • Safe refueling and maintenance. Different forklift power plants need to be refueled in different ways, and each presents dangers. Workers should be shown how to handle battery packs and what to do if batteries are low in water/acid mix. (Hint: You don’t just add water, as in a car battery!) The key points of handling propane must also be emphasized. Finally, employees need to know how to park a forklift safely (and legally) and how to properly take a defective truck out of service. Had the truck in the tragedy we described yesterday been properly and legally parked, a 13-year-old boy would likely be alive today.
  • Show Them with Action Video

    BLR’s keystone program for forklift training is the Training Solutions Toolkit: Forklift Safety on DVD. Its major advantage is that unlike the many slide programs available, the DVD format allows presentation of the material as a professionally acted, minimotion picture.

    Your trainees see, in action, safe forklift operation. They see how improperly balanced loads, poorly executed driving maneuvers, and uneven floor surfaces affect the truck’s handling, braking, and overall operation. These affects cannot be shown in the still photos many CD programs use.

    Reinforcement Materials

    Also, to reinforce the learning, the program DVD is supplemented with a leader’s guide, takeaway employee booklet with a quiz (more are available at a discount), employee workbooks, 3 reminder posters, a trainer’s log to document to OSHA who you trained and when, and even a customizable completion certificate. There’s also a bonus 30-slide PowerPoint® program as an extra training tool. As with all BLR products, your satisfaction is fully assured or you may return it for a full refund.

    If forklift safety is a concern for you, we highly recommend this program. It may be conveniently ordered by clicking any of the ordering links above on this page.

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