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How to ensure your forklift operators are properly trained

by , 27 September 2013
If you use forklifts in your business, you need to ensure every forklift operator is properly trained and that he possess a valid license. But how can you ensure this happens quickly and efficiently. Read on to find out...

If you want to ensure your forklift operator is properly trained, there's an effective to do this…

Here's how to train your forklift operators

According to the Health & Safety Advisor, all your forklift operators must be trained by a government approved training institution and receive a licence.

The course normally extends over five days (40 hours) and the licence will be valid for two years.

At the end of the two years, your operator will need to renew his licence by doing a theoretical test, a machine check test and a practical driving test.

Be warned: If your operator's licence has been expired for more than three months, he'll have to do the full five day course again.

In addition to the training, your operator must wear the licence as a tag clipped onto his overalls. If an inspector from the Department of Labour visits your office, he must be able to see the operator is licensed.

Keep in mind that a separate licence is required for each type of forklift and crane. So make sure your operators have the correct licence.

How to keep your forklift operators up to scratch

'Your manager and supervisors should be checking the operators on a regular basis. They should be watching the operations throughout the day and ensuring the machines are checked at least once a month,' says the Health & Safety Advisor.

It's essential for your company to have proper checklists and for the operators to check the machines every day.

For example, a simple thing like an unexpected broken fanbelt can cause chaos, especially if you're out in the country and have no spare. Worn fanbelts must be replaced before they break, not in the middle of loading a container.

To avoid problems like these, use this checklist to ensure your operator is doing his job correctly. You can add any extra items that are specific to your company.

Use this checklist to ensure your forklift operator is doing his job properly

  • Is the checklist completed and are defects reported on a daily basis
  • Are defects reported to your Maintenance Department?
  • Are all defects repaired by your Maintenance Department?
  • Does the operator travel at a safe speed?
  • Does the operator clean his fork truck?
  • Does the operator clean his battery at least once a week?
  • Does the operator remove the keys when leaving his truck?
  • Does the operator lower his forks when he's not using the fork truck?
  • Does the operator apply the handbrake when he's not using the fork truck?
  • Does the operator leave the fork truck in neutral when not in use?
  • Does the operator travel with the load as low to the ground as possible?
  • Does the operator use the hooter?
  • Does the operator travel in reverse with his loads?
  • Does the operator forbid passengers?
  • Does the operator only lift pallets that are correctly stacked?
  • Does the operator stack pallets etc neatly and safely?
  • Does the operator stop before changing direction?
  • Does the operator pull away smoothly?
  • Does the operator brake gently?
  • Does the operator turn at a safe speed?
  • Does the operator stop before talking to other people?
  • Does the operator look in the direction he is travelling (especially before reversing)?
  • Does the operator look after the pallets and products carefully?
  • Does the operator respect pedestrians?
  • Does the operator park correctly?
  • Does the operator use the correct machine for the job?
  • Does the operator reverse in and out of the cold rooms?
  • Does the operator have a valid certificate?

Remember, if your operator causes an accident and he isn't licensed, your company can be closed down and you'll be liable for a R100 000 fine. So make sure you train your forklift operators properly to stay on right side of the law.

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