Contrary to popular belief, just because someone can drive a truck does not mean he/she ca drive a forklift. So before you think about getting behind the wheel of a forklift, you need to consider taking an accredited forklift operator training.
According to the new OSHA guidelines, employers and business owners in the construction business have to ensure that forklift drivers are certified to operate heavy machinery. The certification process should also contain a verification process via a test to ensure students are competent enough to operate the forklift on site.
The training should be given by an authoritative trainer who can be hired by the employer or picked among experienced operators on-site. Alternatively, operators can also be trained online or attend a course at a special training facility. In case an operator decides to take an online course, he/she will still need to be evaluated by a certified trainer on an actual forklift.
Here is what you can do to get OSHA certification to operate a forklift:
- First look for a training facility or online class that can teach you an OSHA compliant course. You can also opt for an OSHA Outreach Training program that can teach you how to train and certify operators yourself.
- If you decide to become a trainer or certify operators yourself, you have to complete an OSHA trainer course in the general or construction industry first. The course can take a week to complete and are available in official OSHA training centers that are spread across the country.
- If you are a new operator, you can expect to take 8 hours of training while experienced ones need 4 hours of training. The first one focuses on the health and safety issues new operators need to be aware of. This also includes OSHA regulations and penalties they can incur if they violate them.
- You will be trained to navigate through obstacle courses and how to use the controls to lift and lower materials with the forklift. This includes an overview of safety regulations.
- Once you complete the test with a passing grade you will prove that you can meet training requirements and can be certified as a forklift operator. You will get your certification card then which can last for 3 years. While it is not necessary, carrying around the card will be a good idea especially if you are applying for a new job at a construction site. Employers may ask to see it as proof that they can trust you to operate heavy machinery like the forklift.
This training is necessary because forklifts can be quite dangerous to operate and most of it has to do with their sheer weight. A single one can weigh anywhere from 4,000 to 8,000 pounds (excluding the load) depending on the type of machine you use.
It can take just one unstable roll to make a forklift tip over with you inside it! The load can also make the forks fall off when it is in motion which is also bad news for anyone who is near it. To prevent a serious accident, check how much the machine can take as well as the rest of its specifications. All in all, you should not exceed the capacity of the weight load and always check the center of gravity of the load as well as the height limit. Needless to say, if you exceed any of these limitations while operating a forklift, you will get into an accident.
That is what training teaches you how to prevent. A trained operator knows how much weight a machine can handle and will ensure the stack is placed evenly to distribute the weight. They also know how to place the forks under a load as far as possible, ensure that the forks are widest during a lift and how to tilt it to stabilize the load.