Are the monkeys running the zoos?

Danny Maron -
Safety First
- 11 May 2023 ( #1127 )
3 min read
Danny Maron, owner/trainer of Ideal Forklift Training in Canada’s national capital, is an independent consultant, providing the education lift truck operators require, to businesses and government, to minimise the chance of incidents in the workplace. Before founding Ideal in 2000, Danny was a trainer at Canada’s largest forklift dealer.

When I got into this forklift safety training business back in 1999, I was taught to provide the best education one can give to operators so they can all return home safely after their shifts. My motivation was to ensure that those working around forklifts return home safely as well. I have always kept to that standard over the past almost 24 years.

Back in the day, management was always seeking trustworthy training that would enlighten their staff as to the dangers involved in operating these heavy pieces of equipment, working efficiently - and working smart. The courses were usually a full day and businesses excepted the timeframe. You go in, do your program, assess everyone properly, and then determine whether the students are indeed qualified, capable and, most importantly, competent to use the forklifts. In the early days, with very few exceptions, that was how things were done.

Are the monkeys running the zoo?
Are the monkeys running the zoo?

Jump ahead to the present day: the world has changed, at least in my province of Ontario and the rest of Canada – and elsewhere. No longer do provincial ministries ‘blitz’ businesses on everything having to do with their powered industrial lift trucks, overseeing training and the condition of the trucks. It is a zoo out there.

The government no longer cares how people get trained. They do not care what they are taught or how they are tested. Businesses only care if they have their permit, even though in any of the provincial or federal guidelines, there is not one word regarding tickets, permits or licenses.

And how does the government explain competency? Knowledge, training, and experience. One must have these three ingredients in order to operate a lift truck safely. 

It takes time and patience to educate a group of people on the hazards in operating a forklift and by blowing through the information in half a day or less is not doing anyone any favours.  The government states that one must be trained and deemed competent to operate the particular truck the staff will be operating. That is it. That is all.

Over the years, management has turned over and another generation has entered the workforce. Philosophies and ideals have changed dramatically, and not for the better. Quality means nothing. Materials taught mean nothing. The only factors that mean anything to the new crop of managers is how fast can it get done and what is the cheapest they can get it for. That is it. That is all. 

It is not a matter of teaching and educating a group of operators anymore. It actually boils down to how cheaply can I get licences for my staff so they can operate my forklifts and do their jobs legally?

Yes, it is the science of buying certification for their staff. It is not what they, the staff, have learned or know. It’s a matter of how little time and cost the company can spend to obtain tickets for the operators. 

Does that make sense to you? It doesn’t to me.

So now I ask, are the monkeys running the zoos?

Also Read:
Why training is your strong foundation for a safer site
Stuart Taylor
3 minute read
Why training is your strong foundation for a safer site Safety First - 1 Jun 2023 (#1130) Safe operation is based on training, but needs other factors, according to Stuart Taylor.
Getting started with automation
Paul Rivers
5 minute read
Getting started with automation Safety First - 4 May 2023 (#1126) With growing interest in logistics automation, Paul Rivers explains how to begin the journey to a new way of doing things.
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