The Importance Of Forklift Operator Training


May 5, 2023

The forks on the front of a forklift machine make it an invaluable piece of equipment for many industries, including construction, manufacturing, aviation, seaports and more.  

It’s essential that employees who operate forklifts receive training on proper use before they drive the machine. With the right training, you can learn the practices and skills necessary to keep you and others safe while operating a forklift.

What Causes Forklift Accidents?

Forklifts, also known as lift trucks, are dynamic pieces of equipment for many businesses. As with all heavy machinery, they’re not without risk. Workplace safety organizations set rules and regulations to govern forklift use that promote safer work environments, but accidents can still happen. 

Following are some of the most common causes of forklift accidents:

  • Drivers that aren’t properly trained: Forklifts have many moving parts and functions, and operators must understand how to use them before they start driving. Additionally, each workplace has its own set of inventories, obstacles and ground conditions that forklift operators will need to get accustomed to. A forklift operator training program will assess a driver’s behavior, vision and reflex abilities, along with a written and driving assessment, to ensure the employee can properly handle the forklift in various situations.
  • Faulty equipment: A lack of maintenance or the use ofimproper parts and attachments can cause accidents and injuries. Forklift operators should inspect the machine for signs of mechanical problems and make sure the attachments and accessories are secured in place before they drive. If any issues exist, drivers should have them repaired or replaced before moving forward with the job. A regular maintenance and repair regimen can help make this an efficient process. 
  • Careless driving: It can be easy for seasoned forklift drivers to get comfortable operating the machine, but driving a forklift too fast and neglecting standard safety precautions can be dangerous. Operators must remember that forklifts are designed to hoist and move heavy materials from one location to another, not for speed. Drivers should obey the speed limit and follow all safety guidelines recommended by the forklift manufacturer or their employer. 
  • Elevating the load: Driving a forklift with an elevated load is another dangerous practice. In addition to obstructing the operator’s view, a load above the center of gravity can easily become unstable and cause the machine to tip. It’s best to drive with loads as close to the ground as possible, preferably 4 to 6 inches, tilted back. 
  • Poorly marked forklift zones: Marking forklift zones with highly visible, reflective signs and floor tape can help prevent accidents in areas where forklifts and foot traffic come together. Markings alert employees that they’re walking through a forklift zone and must pay attention to heavy machinery. They also help drivers follow the right traffic pattern. 

How Forklift Operator Training in Canada Can Help

Lift truck operator training in Quebec can benefit companies and employees in multiple ways relating to safety, cost savings and more.

It Contributes to a Safe Working Environment

Safety is a crucial factor that affects a company’s performance, reputation and bottom line, which is why it’s important for companies to implement and abide by safety regulations. Careless equipment handling and poor forklift operation practices can present worksite safety hazards. Forklift operator training teaches drivers to take the following precautions to promote a safe working environment:

  • Wearing a seat belt
  • Following the speed limit
  • Using audible and visual signals when necessary
  • Monitoring for pedestrians 

It Minimizes the Risk of Accidents and Injuries

Learning the right way to operate a forklift may take some time and effort, but it’s critical for every employee who will be driving one. Forklift operator training teaches employees what they need to know to reduce the chance of forklift accidents and injuries, including the following: 

  • Identifying and mitigating potential hazards
  • Managing heavy loads carefully and properly
  • Maintaining stability when the machine is in motion

It Helps Decrease Costs

In addition to endangering employees, forklift accidents can lead to costly damage. Even minor damages can become major over time, resulting in production downtime and lost opportunity. 

Machines involved in an accident will need repairs before you can use them again. A trained forklift operator is more equipped to handle the machine competently and ensure smooth operation to avoid accidents and damage in the first place.

It’s the Law

Forklift operators in Canada must obtain a certification before they can legally operate a forklift. A training program that adheres to the Canadian Standards Association requirements will teach operators how to manage a forklift safely and operate in accordance with the law. 

What to Expect in Forklift Operator Training

Forklift operator training in Ontario provides trainees with comprehensive knowledge of the proper way to use a forklift. Check out the details below: 

Basic Operations

The instructor will explain and demonstrate each forklift component’s use, controls and basic operations. Trainees will have the opportunity to operate the controls themselves and ask any questions they may have. 

How to Identify Malfunctions

Training will build on the foundation of basic operations and teach drivers to identify if and when a malfunction with one or more of the forklift’s components occurs. Operators can then address issues accordingly and minimize the risk of accidents due to forklift malfunction. 

How to Maintain Balance

A forklift tip-over is a common accident that’s, unfortunately, very dangerous. Forklift operator training teaches drivers to avoid a balance mishap with the following practices:

  • Position loads as close to the ground as possible.
  • Drive and steer the wheel slowly when transporting elevated loads.
  • Best practices during a tip, such as not attempting to jump from the forklift and the importance of staying buckled in.

Training also educates drivers on basic physics and how to apply it to forklift load management. 

Knowledge of Best Practices

Forklift operator training teaches drivers the best practices for using a forklift. Some standards covered include:

  • Always wearing a safety belt that fits correctly and securely.
  • Driving the forklift at speeds appropriate for the job and the machine.
  • Sounding the horn when reversing or approaching areas with low visibility.
  • Maintaining maximum visibility at all times, especially in low-light conditions.
  • Using a spotter in places where visibility is temporarily low.
  • Abiding by the forklift’s weight capacity.
  • Servicing the equipment regularly with ongoing and preventive maintenance plans.
  • Replacing old equipment once it becomes inefficient with new machinery equipped with modern safety features.

Turn to YIT for Lift Truck Operator Training in Canada

At YIT, we consider your safety our top priority. In addition to selling forklifts and other industrial equipment, we offer a variety of forklift operator training courses to educate drivers and help you and your team feel more comfortable operating forklifts. Reach out to us today to learn more about our operator training services. 

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