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.
I used to be a fan of showing relevant films to my students on the particular types of forklifts that they would be required to operate at their place of business. After teaching for almost an entire day, before the written tests, I would pop in a video for them to view. I did not have films for each and every type of forklift, but had the most popular trucks I trained on covered. These films would further enlighten the students on the general operation of the various types, safety rules and consequences of improper use.
I did this up to 2010 or 2011, at which time, I came to a few realisations:
I found countless errors in these films that I would have to later explain to the students or, should I say, apologise for the wrongdoings.
I had explained all of the materials in much greater detail already, so why have the film do a lesser job? For example, it takes me 12 minutes to teach the lever principle - the film takes maybe 20 seconds. The stability triangle, the most important attribute in operator safety training, I cover off in 35 minutes, the film, less than a minute. And so on.
When actors have their heads sliced off by a piece of sheet metal that has been jettisoned from an abruptly stopped forklift, or fingers severed, or when forks rip through a lunch area wall, piercing a staff member on a break, this inevitably elicited laughter. Maybe it is funny, but I consider it a constant reminder of what can happen if one is careless, so I have come to learn that showing these films, just to entertain the troops, was not worthwhile. I can better spend precious time teaching, explaining and viewing their driving habits, instead of listening to them roar for 15, 20 or 30 minutes.
I guess these films do have a place in certain classrooms. There are trainers who do training on powered industrial lift trucks who don't understand the materials they are being paid to deliver, or they may not be capable of properly educating the staff they are paid to train. So, pop in a couple of movies, hand out manuals and open book tests, and let everyone pass. Not in my book!
Sure, use the films to reinforce the topics being delivered, but as the solitary tool to educate forklift operators, these films are not the answer.
So take the extra time and spend two hours explaining the engineering dynamics of a forklift, 40 minutes on safety rules, take time to explain to your staff the reasons why they are there, what it means to be competent, and what their responsibilities are. Spend the time letting them know their liabilities, should something go awry. Spend the time in the shop, or outside, teaching the right way to manoeuvre a forklift, or acquire/deposit loads, and leave their viewing pleasures to the Cineplex, and then later, they can put in their votes for that year's best picture.