Safety First

Danny Maron: The Horror

Wednesday, 4 July 2018 ( #879 )
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.
This is not a plug for my business. Just the facts. Once a month, we hold training sessions for individuals seeking forklift training to better themselves or learn a new trade. One weekend a month, we hold these sessions for two consecutive days, the first being theory and the second, practical tutoring, instruction and practice. At the end of the first day, I notify my associate of the order in which the trainees should learn how to use the sit-down forklift during all stages of the practical training the next day. I received an inquiry in early May from a gentleman looking to participate in the next weekend course. He had no prior experience or training. We sent out the registration form and heard nothing back. A couple of days before the training, he emailed us, wanting to attend the driving portion of the course. He had been trained recently, having gone off to another firm, and now wanted more time on the forklift since he was unsure as to whether he could drive the forklift. We accepted. I placed him first, with another trainee who had not operated the forklift in nine years; then a lady with no previous experience, followed by a couple of others with no prior experience or training. He had just started to drive the forklift through the series of pylons when I arrived, and he had no clue as to what to do. He was wide, he was tight, clipping the pylons and all over the place. He was doing things on the forklift that none of us was able to comprehend! A real disaster. I then placed him fifth in the order, and he was barely progressing. I was having difficulty trying to understand this situation as he was recently trained, deemed competent, and possessed a permit from another firm. Then the truth came out: The other firm had him do an online course on three different classes of lift trucks for four hours. Then they brought him in to be coached and tested for a period of three hours. I suppose after not cutting it, he returned for another eight hours, at a hefty price tag, to practise more, although he claims he was not using the forklift for the entire eight hours, just talking for a fair bit. He was with us the entire day, learning how to steer, use the controls, acquire and deposit loads, follow all of the safe operating practices, and park the forklift properly. I tested everyone else but him, and I did not have to because the other firm had 'certified' him already, and he was there just to build his skillset. Near the end of the day, it was just he and I. I had him repeat the stages a couple of times, and he still was not very good, and he knew it. To be fair, I had him grab the top pallet on a stack of 15, and drive the load over to the other side of the building and place it in the empty spot on the ground. "Uh-oh," he said to me. He could not place the pallet down without it resting on the pallet to the left. Then, I had him drive back to the testing area, pick up the lone empty pallet, and place it on top of two other pallets. While still sitting in the forklift, he asked about the chances of passing if he attended my full course. I thought about it and said that there were no guarantees, and in my honest opinion, I did not believe he would pass. I told him I would love to take his money, but it wouldn't be right. I said that it was not in his genes, in his blood, to drive a forklift. He was too laid-back and not quick enough. I explained to him that I would not refuse him, while mentioning that he was not strong enough to do this work, and that others would simply wipe him off the floor, and the employer would walk him. Heartbreaking hearing that from me, but what about a potential employer? No, it is not mean. It is honesty and sincerity. The person was incapable of operating the forklift. Although that firm gave him top marks for use of the control levers, he did not know when to push or pull, and whether it was the first or second control lever to work with. He then mentioned that he had never driven an automobile. Had I known that, I would have outright denied him. Having a driver's licence is not a prerequisite, but knowing how to drive is definitely a benefit. Tough enough to teach people who have been driving for 10 years or more how to use a forklift, but someone who has never steered, or pushed on a brake or gas pedal - no chance. When we finished, I had him drive the forklift to its parking spot inside the building, and shut her down. Once he was off the forklift, and starting to leave, I called him back and said that there was one more step that he must complete before we leave. After 15 minutes, I shut off the cylinder. Yes, propane was discussed at this other firm for a few minutes but he was taught virtually nothing. A competent operator is knowledgeable about the start-up, shut-down, refueling and recharging of the forklift they will be using. I suppose that was extra cost, or not in the online curriculum. I guess that his training never covered that. And they certified this kid, claiming he was competent to operate the sit-down forklift? The potential injuries, death to himself or others working around him. Damage to the forklift, property and product. The horror! The horror!