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Is forklift operator training or forklift train the trainer best for our company?
There are two common ways to gain OSHA compliance in training your forklift operators. The first is to contract with a training supplier and have them do it for you. The other way is to have a person, or group of people, trained as forklift trainers and conduct it internally. To use an analogy, paying someone to train your forklift operators is a bit like valet parking. You will pay more than self-parking but you will also typically get a higher level of service/expertise and much more convenience. Training a forklift trainer is like self-parking, you get the best value but you also have to put a bit more time and effort into it. A company with a small number of forklift operators and a relatively stable workforce may be better off letting a training supplier do the work. If your company has many types of equipment, if you have unique equipment or if you have high turnover, then having an in-house forklift trainer is hard to beat. No vendor can supply you with “hire today and train tomorrow” service, but if you have your own in-house trainer, you can have that type of convenience.
How do forklift trainers get trained?
Companies, such as forklift dealers and safety consultants, offer forklift trainer classes, sometimes called forklift train the trainer. These classes are typically held at their location. However, if you have a need for multiple trainers, usually four or more, the classes can be brought to your site anywhere in the U.S. Which is better? Once again, it depends on what you are looking for. If you only need one or two forklift trainers, going to a pre-set class may be best and is certainly the most cost effective. If you need a group of forklift trainers, then it will be less costly and more convenient to have a training provider come right to your site and conduct the class. A few companies promote online forklift operator and trainer training so we should address that here as well. Online training is great for things like basic fire extinguisher training, training that is generic and relatively simple. Online training is a joke for training forklift operators and especially forklift trainers. There are companies who promote you can become an operator in minutes or a trainer in about an hour. If you believe this to be a valid option, I would like to talk to you about some ocean front property for sale here in Ohio! You probably know the old sayings about “getting what you pay for” and “when things sound too good to be true.”
What does OSHA say about forklift trainers?
Although the government sometimes has a tendency to over legislate and regulate, in the case of forklift trainers, the standards say very little. The only mention of forklift trainers in the forklift standard is in 29CFR1910.178(l)(2)(iii) which states “All operator training and evaluation shall be conducted by persons who have the knowledge, training, and experience to train powered industrial truck operators and evaluate their competence.” OSHA makes some additional comments in Compliance Directive CPL 2-1.28A which states “An example of a qualified trainer would be a person who, by possession of a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing, or who by knowledge, training and experience, has demonstrated the ability to train and evaluate powered industrial truck operators.” One last piece of detail on forklift trainers comes from an OSHA letter of interpretation on forklift trainers and contains details on how forklift trainers need to have the competency and skills to run a forklift themselves before attempting to teach others to run them.
What type of people make good forklift trainers?
This is something you need to put a lot of thought into, since it will make or break your forklift safety program. What should we be looking for in our potential trainers?
- People who desire to be a forklift trainer and expresses interest in the position.
- People with good verbal communication skills.
- People with a good safety record and who are not brand new to your company.
- People who already have basic forklift operational skills.
- People who are not afraid to confront those who are not following the rules for safe operation.
- People with good organizational and people management skills.
- People with basic computer skills, who can use PowerPoint and communicate via email.
- People who have successfully coached a team in their past, training is a lot like coaching.
Why is training forklift trainers so important?
Forklift trainers are very likely the most critical part of any forklift safety program. Trainers are the people who develop and teach the content of your programs, they are the people who train and motivate your operators and pedestrians and they are the people that watch your operations to ensure people are working safely. If you let anyone convince you that fast and cheap are great ways to train trainers, then the rest of your forklift safety program will likely be defective. The harsh reality of the matter is that many forklift trainers in the U.S. are nothing more than DVD inserters. They have been trained to “show the company video” and give the official quiz and then drive the operators around in a circle to verify competence. If we followed that same pattern when training young automobile operators we would have a lot of terribly injured or dead kids. There are a small number of elite forklift trainers in the U.S. They have great programs which are highly customized, they know their content inside and out, they know the rules and how to present them so that operators will want to work safe. They are also not afraid to confront operators who are operating unsafely and ask them to stop and make changes.
What to look for when choosing a forklift train the trainer class?
- Any forklift trainers class worth taking will be conducted on a pass/fail basis. You don’t want trainers going through a program where everyone passes regardless of competency.
- The trainers should be tested on both their knowledge of forklifts and of the OSHA standard. Not every person was meant to be a trainer and testing will identify who is not fit to train.
- Classes should be at least two days in length. Many classes are only 4-8 hours and just don’t take the time to convey the large amounts of information that need to be taught.
- What materials are included and how much do they cost? Many providers don’t tell you what materials are available or what they cost until you attend their class and then it is too late. They undercharge for the training so they can overcharge for the videos and materials once they have you on the hook.
- Look for a class with no expiration date. Forklift operators are required to be re-evaluated every three years according to OSHA but not trainers. Don’t use any provider that imposes an expiration date on your training.
- Pick a program that will stay in touch with your trainers and which updates them on important topics.
When should forklift trainers be re-trained?
OSHA does not say forklift trainers have to be refreshed or re-evaluated on any pre-set basis, however, that does not mean that it’s not a good idea. How would you feel flying with a pilot that got his training 25 years ago and never had any on-going additional training? How about putting your faith in a doctor that graduated med school 40 years ago and never had any additional education? We laugh when we think of those examples, but forklift trainers receiving no additional education for 8, 10 or 12 years are probably just as scary. We have chosen as a company not to put an expiration date on trainers that attend our forklift train the trainer program, however, that does not mean that we think they are trained for life. How long a trainer should go between training is ultimately up to the trainer and the company to decide, at least in our opinion. We also believe that trainers should read the forklift standard at least once per year, it can be easy to forget things and reading it once a year will help keep the rules straight and fresh in the trainer’s mind.
How often should forklift trainers train to stay current?
Once again OSHA is silent on this topic, but I can tell you this: the more a forklift trainer trains, the better they get at it and the more comfortable they are with it. A company that will only use their forklift trainer once a year or every few years, probably should probably hire an outside company to do their forklift operator training. Think of something you only do once a year or every few years, how good at it are you, will you be as good as someone who does it daily or weekly or even monthly? You may ask, how many trainers do we need? That is a tough question to answer. Train as few trainers as you need to cover your shifts and equipment types, use the existing trainers as much as you can, so they gain high levels of skills and can maintain them. It is far better to have a smaller core group of high level trainers than to have a much larger group of very average or below average trainers. You would be surprised at how many operators can be trained by a single trainer over time if the company gives them the chance to do it.
Why choose Forklift Training Systems for your forklift trainer’s class?
Our forklift train the trainer classes are held in Ohio. However, if you need four or more forklift trainers, we’ll bring the class to your facility anywhere in the United States. This is perfect for companies which have substantial operator turnover, multiple locations, or unique operations/forklifts. This is not a seminar, it’s a pass or fail class where participants EARN the right to become trainers. Trainers will be provided the applicable OSHA Forklift Standard and then tested on their knowledge of it. Trainers are also required to conduct a survey of their site and forklifts to identify areas where they can improve safety and OSHA Forklift Compliance. The forklift trainers also get to take part in an operator training classroom to see how high quality forklift training is conducted. Class size is limited in order to give each trainer sufficient personal attention. This two-day class takes the time to do it right and trainers will leave the class highly motivated to make positive changes. Your trainers will know what to do and how to do it, as well as having the materials and confidence to get the job done right. They will also be inspired to return home and make your workplace a safer place for both forklift operators and pedestrians. Our training program exceeds most other programs in terms of quality and duration. This is especially true for forklift dealership based and online-based classes which can last only 2-6 hours and don’t adequately prepare forklift trainers. Trainers regularly travel from across the U.S. to attend our classes because there isn’t a local option which meets our standard of quality and preparedness. If you need four or more forklift trainers, we can also cost effectively bring our class right to your facility anywhere in the U.S. Onsite trainers classes feature a special forklift safety audit and have a fixed flat rate which includes up to eight trainers and all new training materials! Don’t need the full eight trainers, but would prefer an onsite class? Invite other local companies or other sites within your corporation to attend and help offset your training costs. We also offer an optional third day for those desiring to cross train as aerial work platform trainers (scissor and boom lifts). Many companies have aerial work platforms, but very few have a formal training program, materials or qualified aerial work platform trainers.