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.
In November and December, we saw an uptick of cases and deaths in Canada, and once again, as they did in April and May, businesses chose to hold off on any training.
As a concerned safety consultant, I decided to call the Ministry of Labour in the province of Ontario, the largest populated province in the country, back at the end of November, and requested to speak with a manager in charge of the industrial sector, as opposed to construction.
I was seeking guidance regarding forklift safety training and COVID 19. He hesitated for a bit and said that there was no stoppage of training, even with the virus on the rise. He asked why I was requesting this info and I mentioned to him that business was dead and businesses were reluctant to have any outsiders on their premises to perform any training; or for that matter, anything at all. And the head of the government was scaring the hell out of everybody when he said not to congregate in groups of 10, then five, then four.
Coronavirus is impacting on training and trainers. PHOTO: FDA
When I asked if there was something out there that I was unaware of, and he said 'no'. I replied that I know of businesses that have individuals using forklifts without any prior formal training, and due to the COVID, they are procrastinating. Shocked to say the least, he then asked me to identify where these businesses were. I asked him if he had a six-figure cushy job in my city in case I lose all my business by ratting out my clients? Well, he was not going there and neither was I.
I mentioned to him that it is the job of the ministry officers to find this information out because I am not getting paid by the government to check on the industry. I have my work to do and it is not my fault that the officers, who are getting paid, are not doing theirs.
He then went on to deflect by mentioning that there were other ways of businesses having their staff trained; for example, in-house or online training. My response was that I am very interested in taking an added page on my website to advertise to the public that if you are subscribing to online forklift training, for $25, I will provide all the answers to your written test and guarantee a perfect score, regardless of which class of truck you have chosen to learn. He did not take lightly to that, but I then asked: "How do these online courses judge or assess the students' operating skills?" He replied that it is up to the businesses to ensure that their staff are competent to operate their forklifts. Hello? Are the dealers policing the junkies?
Yes, at the end of the day, it is a manager or supervisor that should be overseeing the performance of the staff, but who is being paid to provide a service to professionally evaluate the staff? I guess that would be the trainer. But with COVID-19 running amuck, and businesses procrastinating, this is a recipe for disaster. On one hand, the Ministry of Labour has not stopped regulating the training; but on the other hand, the head of the provincial government is telling everyone to stay home: only essential businesses can remain open, although every business considers themselves essential.
We are now in 2021. A glimmer of hope. After a couple of dismal months, maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel. I had booked several dates, not only for businesses, but federal government as well, which was a huge surprise, and the telephone is ringing. "Sorry Dan, due to COVID-19 cases, deaths and lockdowns, we must postpone the training."
I should have had the foresight years ago to manufacture toilet paper, paper towels, masks, disinfectant, of open a Costco or grocery store or construction industry supply business, because all these businesses are deemed 'essential'. Forklift training, even against the Ministry of Labour's belief, is not.