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Forklift accidents are no laughing matter. Every year, forklifts cause a staggering 100,000 injuries and over 100 fatalities in the United States. The vast majority of those injuries and fatalities are due to operator negligence.
There are many excellent forklift training materials available on forkliftaccessories.com, including full training programs for operating counterbalanced forklifts and narrow aisle forklifts. Having forklift operators thoroughly study and absorb the information in training materials like these can go a long way towards improving forklift safety and reducing accidents, but even the best training program has to be followed up with hands-on experience operating a forklift. Or does it?
When you think of virtual reality simulators, you usually think of flight simulators, but Tactus Technologies, aided by a grant from OSHA, has created a 3D forklift simulator. The complete package includes a steering wheel and pedals for a more realistic experience. Optional features include a forklift seat and a 60″ screen. Lessons focus on teaching students to react appropriately to a number of challenges such as operating forklifts on ramps and around people.
While it may sound like a game and is in fact created using gaming technology, the simulator is precisely engineered to realistically simulate forklift performance. Users’ progress is tracked on their personal profiles and the commercial version of the program can be customized to duplicate the actual layout of a company warehouse.
While we welcome any technology that can enhance forklift safety, there is no substitute for hands-on training and increasing awareness of the real dangers involved in operating a lift truck. Forklift stability, for example, is often poorly understood even by experienced operators. A wire lift truck is an inexpensive teaching aid that graphically illustrates the consequences of operating an imbalanced forklift.
Another forklift training guide that drives home the consequences of unsafe operation is a video that recreates actual industrial accidents. There’s nothing like seeing what can happen while driving a lift truck to make new and even seasoned operators take their responsibilities more seriously.
There’s no such thing as “too safe” when operating forklifts. At the very least, no one should be allowed to operate a forklift before they have completed an OSHA approved training program. Above and beyond that, though, ongoing training and evaluation should be as important as forklift maintenance.