FLA.com: We hear lots of calls for more attention to forklift training

Thanks for the FLA.com article that begins,"We hear lots of calls for more attention to forklift training -" Here are some of my thoughts:

Most senior warehouse and distribution center operations managers are keenly aware of at least one important mission: Whether all their forklift operators are well-trained or not, the goods still have to get moved, TODAY. EVERY day managers guarantee this "mission outcome" to their own superiors, customers and owners of their business.

Most forklift operator trainers are keenly aware of at least one important fact, too: They are NOT the only form of professional services competing for management's budget dollars. If their client/managers can find a cheaper, better way to get the goods moved today, this week or this month, they are going to do it...and it may not include funding forklift operator training...whether in-house, or provided by an external consultant. ( Also, we ALL know that our respective government regulators are either reluctant, or not able, to do much more than they already have to shift more attention to training.)

So, operations managers will fund business performance from their budget so they can get the goods moved. Professional trainers, unless they have another source of income, need to know that they are going to get paid ONLY for training services provided. If their client/manager does NOT see operator training as important to his mission; his goals; his purpose... it puts the trainer into a common dilemma: somehow convince the operations manager to use AND pay for his services, find a different source of "meaningful" work and income, or just quit...and spend the rest of your days lamenting how trainers "don't get no respect"!

How might the dilemma get resolved?

Best wishes,


  • Posted 4 Oct 2012 20:10
  • Modified 5 Oct 2012 18:05 by poster
  • Discussion started by joe_m
  • New Jersey, United States
Operator/Examiner Certification for In-House Supervisors
Showing items 1 - 9 of 9 results.
I work for Safety on Demand we specialize in forklift videos that are high impact and reproduce accidents, I get a lot of Trainers that love our materials and video's but when they go to their supervisors to get approval budget's take priority over safety. Some trainers tell me they are still using VHS from the early 80s to train with and it's just not getting the point across to their employees. Some trainers have resorted to paying out of pocket to update their programs, they tell me they are questioned about their training program when an accident happens and are made to feel partly responsible. I agree it will take a mandate or criminal prosecution to get companies to take safety seriously.
  • Posted 16 Aug 2013 03:32
  • Reply by bob_p
  • United States
Andy, I was thinking not so much of an 'audit of -standards-', as much as an audit of the teacher's _methods_ by other teachers. a "how well does he help others learn how to repeatedly get the lid off the jelly jar" (so to speak), and how can -we- help to achieve continual improvement.
Teaching being the art, and required paperwork and classwork being the structure [canvas and paints] upon which the art of logistics/warehousing is painted.
John_J, your comment above shows to me that the idea is not as dumb as most of my ideas (?great minds think alike?) and has [at least some] merit, maybe it was 'ego and execution' that caused a failed effort in the 90s, and it may be worth re-thinking - reworking.
Every 20 years or so it might not be a bad thing to take a look at how things are done from the bottom up?
As I see it, this would more be a problem of "where and how much is the profit?"
Perhaps forklift operator trainers need a standards body along the lines of ASE for auto mechanics (and I am NOT endorsing the ASE) or PADI has done for scuba divers (and I think PADI is a far better managed model, that keeps "profit" and "results" in the correct proportions).
  • Posted 30 Dec 2012 22:13
  • Modified 30 Dec 2012 22:27 by poster
  • Reply by edward_t
  • South Carolina, United States
"it's not rocket surgery"
An audit of training standards, now ok lets take alook at this.
Paperwork check, training methods check, candidate aware check, up to date safety regulations check. So what could be wrong ?
The fact is, a jam jar (jelly jar ) full of common sense included in every test..laughter all around i here, but alot of people couldn't get the lid off the jar. so maybe no matter how good the training, a spy in the cab ? there are systems available to do just this. will most employers fit any of these probably not.
But maybe they should, a way of viewing on a hour by hour day by day way your forklift truck driver is treating your business.
As an instructor i can give a candidate all the tools to pass a test, but common sense is up to the company to insure he complies with the law
  • Posted 30 Dec 2012 21:28
  • Reply by andy_r
  • buckinghamshire, United Kingdom
Its all in a days work
Certainly there would be an advantage to have a cross checking audit of training. But from my past experience the likelihood of this happening is minimal. In the mid 90's I was involved in dealer training, I & all lift truck ITA members were polled by a very proactive member of the lift truck industry to produce a "consistent" message & content for lift training videos that would be OSHA compliant. At this point in time new OSHA regs were being implemented and everyone needed to up date their training materials. One of the objectives was to reduce cost of production from about $60K (do it on your own) to $30K per video/CD master by setting up a consistent scene with one "video house" and each participant would have their lift truck brand videoed the same way in each scene with no "advertising" messages - just good operator safety instructions. Each company could add to there video/CD master a brand specific leader and trailer messages. The company I worked for was in favor of this approach as we built two brands and would need to produce 3 videos for at least 3 types of equipment (counterbalanced, narrow-aisle & walkie) for each brand. Great idea but there was not enough overall support by the other members to move this project forward (legalize and the "competitive spirit" got in the way) so the idea & project "died the death of a rag doll".
Heck, we have 50 different states and probably have 50 different ways to be "tested" for our drivers license. In the great state of Georgia you only need to be able to pass a parallel parking maneuver for the road test part of the examination (and the results show). In Illinois (and other states I'm certain) they "were" very strict in the late 60's you actually went on the road & the examiner deducted points for every minor infractions - like not using a turn signal when pulling away from a curb at the exam center and not having both hands on the steering wheel.) At that time, I had been driving for 10 years ( only had two tickets - one speeding 5 over and a citation for a my fault one minor accident - when I was younger) and I passed by only 6 points.
  • Posted 30 Dec 2012 21:12
  • Reply by johnr_j
  • Georgia, United States
"Have An Exceptional Day!"
makes me wonder if there might be some advantage to having other company's trainers to sit in and "audit" training sessions, as a cooperative way to improve training.
  • Posted 30 Dec 2012 03:47
  • Reply by edward_t
  • South Carolina, United States
"it's not rocket surgery"
I have trained forklift drivers, now i repair the trucks they drive.
I would say there is a massive difference in training standards. Not from company to company but trainer to trainer. I here you say what ! but i have been trained by people who care about what they do, and people who dont care, as long as they get paid. Companies should except the trainers decision to fail a candidate. Not expect an automatic pass for who ever they throw at him. I found that some people can operate a fork lift better than me, very quickly with the right tuition. Some will only ever be average and no better. The way forwards is better training, better pay for the right people who will take care of your fork lifts, your goods, your building and your reputation. They are hard to find but they are out there. I found a few in my five years of training.
If the job is a trade, give them recognition, see what happens.
Andy R UK
  • Posted 30 Dec 2012 02:55
  • Reply by andy_r
  • buckinghamshire, United Kingdom
Its all in a days work
I am very fortunate to be working for a 3PL Supply Chain company that treats safety as a top priority. We have our own training section/department dedicated to providing the best and most up to date training solutions to each of our employees, and a huge part of our success is that our facility managers and supervisors across the country have bought into the safety of our employees. The head of our training program has a Doctorate's Degree and we all have the opportunites to stay on top of safety and training issues by attending workshops from State to National Safety Councils. ALL of our new hires that will be LTO's must go through our company LTO training program, no matter how long they have been an LTO previously. We are not trying to tell anyone they do not know how to operate a lift truck, we are instructed them and showing them the proper safety procedures that we expect at our facilities. After a 20 year carreer in the military I started working for my curent employer in 1993 and feel I am very fortunate to be a part of this company and I take my position very serious. I am involved with training new hires to conducting Train The Trainer courses for the trainers that we currently have from New Jersey to California and from Wisconsin down to Texas, and I stay in contact with the trainers constantly. As no 2 facilites are the same we are currently initating a new program designed to fit a need at a specific facility and we will be putting in place a new Mentoring program that is only going to enhance both safety training and work output at this facility and we could not have done this without the management realizing the need for this. So we work with the management down to the freshly new hire throughout our company and we beilieve we have a safety and training program second to none. We have actually created our own rail safety training video, so you see we enjoy doing what we do.
We do not have to deal with..."HOW MUCH DOES IT COST" aspect, we just justify it and "WE GET IT COMPLETED"
There are a few of you on here that I communicate with occassionally and I truly appreciate the professional relationship that I have developed over the years and the information that has been passed on. We as professional trainers really do need to look out and assist each other whenever we can and remember that everyone that comes into these forums whether it is often, or just an occassional jump in to make a comment session are all here for the same reason and that is trying to finds ways to create a safer working environment.

  • Posted 30 Nov 2012 01:05
  • Reply by TC17
  • Wisconsin, United States
Wisconsin, USA
"Be safe"
As a forklift training specialist, my income is solely based on providing the most meaningful forklift training available. Most companies seek the cheapest, not necessarily the best. There have been four incidents in my area over the past few months, none of these firms staff trained by me. With forklfit related deaths descending, but one is too many, I doubt government intervention will come to be. They just don't care, and neither do the companies. I have written articles in the Safety 1st column about businesses and indivduals whose first question to me on the phone is 'how much' as opposed to 'what will you teach me, what will you teach my staff' Oddly enough, when there is a golf tournament, no one asks how much;they just sign and go. Companies look upon their blue collar workers as second class citizens and really don't give much thought. They buy the beautiful office furniture, coffee machines and computers but training for their warehosuing staff is compromised. Hate to say it but a huge rash of deaths may awaken the government and CEOs to this problem. Insurance companies collectively should hike the premiums if safety is not a priority, and maybe then, some of these companies will take training more seriously.
  • Posted 11 Oct 2012 07:21
  • Reply by dan_m
  • Ontario, Canada
Safety- everyone's buzz word. All my customers take it into concideration at one point- only to have it go by the way side when the bills come in.

The only way a safety program stays on course is when the people higher up understand it's importance. When the entire safety group costs are calculated they must be the less the expensive option to lower safety standards. Most small businesses don't keep track of the cost of lost production, increases in workmans comp insurance rates, etc as close as they need to- to be aware of the costs savings a safety programs offers. My larger customers realize it's importance and do the things neccasary ( & spend the money) on good safety programs.

If you're getting resistance about the benefits and the costs of a safety program, I believe an education into the costs of no or sub- standard safety practices can bring. As always- it's about whatever is cheaper in the long run. (IMHO)
  • Posted 6 Oct 2012 01:01
  • Modified 6 Oct 2012 01:08 by poster
  • Reply by bbforks
  • Pennsylvania, United States
bbforks (at) Hotmail (dot) com
Customers love technology- until they have to pay to fix it!

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