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It goes without saying that forklift drivers need to know how to safely operate their vehicles. Forklifts are simply too large and too powerful to be operated by somebody who doesn’t know what they are doing or who doesn’t care about the safety of themselves or their coworkers.
The stats on forklift accidents speak for themselves. There are more than 855,000 forklifts in use in the US and about 11% will be involved in some sort of workplace accident. Of these, 35,900 will result in a serious injury and 85 will result in a fatality, on average.
Even one injury or death is too many. So focusing on forklift safety needs to be a priority for any business that uses these helpful yet potentially dangerous machines to handle materials.
Forklift Safety Training Is the Law
Forklift safety training not only reduces workplace accidents but also helps protect businesses. Any workplace forklift accident that involves a serious injury or fatality automatically is investigated by federal regulators. And if the business can’t provide written documentation that they provided adequate forklift safety training and certification for not only driver involved in the accident but also every driver in their employ, they could face fines, penalties, and even criminal prosecution.
So forklift safety training is essential for both the safe operation of your facility and for the protection of your business should an accident occur. But how much safety training do you actually need to provide?
The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires businesses to provide formal forklift safety training for every operator prior to their getting behind the wheel. This training needs to include a variety of specific topics, including operating instructions, engine and motor operation, visibility, vehicle capacity, stability, and more. Plus, there needs to be a testing element to ensure the operator retained the essential information. And once the training is completed and the test has been passed, written certification needs to be stored in the employee’s permanent file so that it can be produced on demand to OSHA inspectors.
Furthermore, if the driver should be involved in an accident, a near miss collision, or a poor evaluation from a supervisor stemming from the unsafe operation of their vehicle, the driver needs to be retrained. Similarly, operators are required to participate in retraining if they are assigned to a new type of vehicle or if work conditions significantly change.
Beyond that, it’s up to the individual business to determine how much additional forklift safety training needs to be provided. Many businesses will require drivers to participate in refresher courses annually or bi-annually. Others may hold brief monthly meetings or focus on specific forklift safety issues during pre- and post-shift meetings.
The bottom line is that there can never be too much emphasis on forklift safety. These machines simply have too much potential for danger. The more training and attention on forklift safety, the better off your business will be.