Forklifts

Are Your Forklift Operators Due for Retraining?

Yesterday we looked at the growing number of forklift-free workplaces, including some of the advantages they offer and some of the obstacles to a smooth conversion. But most facilities won’t be getting rid of their forklifts any time soon, so today we’ll look at OSHA forklift training requirements and at a tool that will help you meet them.

Because they are so useful, forklifts abound in warehouses and production plants. But with familiarity comes a comfort level that can result in lapses in vigilance. And handy as they are, forklifts are very dangerous vehicles. As noted yesterday, nearly 100 workers are killed and another 20,000 seriously injured in forklift-related accidents every year.

That is why OSHA’s General Industry Safety Orders Section 29 CFR 1910.178 requires powered industrial truck operators to receive both classroom and practical training before they are allowed to operate a forklift on the job. Operators must be certified, which includes passing a “driver test”—an evaluation conducted while the worker uses a forklift.

Should You Provide Periodic Retraining?

The Cal/OSHA Compliance Advisor notes that the OSHA Safety Order requires operators to undergo a performance evaluation at least every 3 years. And it requires retraining for operators who are observed operating a forklift unsafely, who are involved in an accident or near miss, or who fail their performance evaluation. Operators must also be retrained whenever changes that can affect forklift operation are made in the workplace.


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.


Forklift Retraining: The Basics

Topics for initial operator training are specified in the Safety Order, but topics for retraining are not. Retraining presentations should be tailored to the reason for the retraining—such as changes in the workplace or a near miss. You should flesh out specific topic areas with worksite-specific information as needed.

Drive home the importance of your forklift operators knowing their trucks. Knowing how to drive a car doesn’t make someone able to operate a forklift, and one forklift can be very different from another. Operators must be sure they know the ins and outs of the forklifts they drive, including:

  • The location of its controls and how they work
  • What kind of visibility you’ll have, with and without a load
  • Your forklift’s capacity (how heavy a load it can safely carry) and stability (whether it can be operated on rough terrain or indoors only)
  • Whether any fork adaptations or attachments are available and how to use them safely
  • How often your forklift needs to be inspected and have routine maintenance performed

BLR’s Training Solutions Toolkit: Forklift Safety on DVD comes to you satisfaction assured! Get the details.


Equally important is that forklift operators know their workplace. The workplace itself can affect safe forklift operation. They should know how these factors will affect the “rules of the road”:

  • Surface conditions (rough, slick, ramped, or sloped)
  • What materials are in the loads and how stable the loads are
  • How loads should be manipulated, stacked, and unstacked
  • Hazardous locations and restricted areas
  • Traffic control measures, including areas where forklifts cannot pass and areas where other workers will be present

So how do you train your forklift operators in a way that this vital information sticks with them? We think BLR’s Training Solutions Toolkit: Forklift Safety has a giant leg up on the competition. This DVD-based kit is really a mini-motion picture, complete with professional actors and a realistic script. It trains on all the essential points and also includes all these supplementary materials:

–15 copies of an employee workbook and accompanying leader’s guide that confirms and extends the learning. Additional copies may be ordered at special low prices.
–3 posters. Hang them around your facility as a constant reminder of the training. (And note the pleased expression on any OSHA inspector who happens to see them.)
–Trainer’s log. Creates a permanent record of whom you trained and when—another must-have if your facility is inspected.
–Customizable completion certificate. Just add each trainee’s name and other company specifics and print out.
–A complete bonus PowerPoint® forklift training program. This 30-slide PowerPoint, with accompanying slide show notes and takeaway booklets, allows you an alternative way to train, and lets you customize your training with specific company policies and situations and add your comments as you present the material.

Training Solutions Toolkit: Forklift Safety is available for a no-cost, no-risk trial at your workplace. We’ll be happy to arrange it for you.