Safety First

Danny Maron: The need for refresher training

Wednesday, 14 November 2018 ( #898 )
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.
While initial training may be mandatory, follow-up training is seldom required under law - and that, according to Danny Marron, is a problem for all.

I am unsure as to whether refresher training is the law across the pond, but here in Canada, it is not. Initial training is, in all 10 provinces, but refresher training is simply a guideline in CSA (Canadian Standards Association), otherwise known as UL in the United States or CE in Europe.

Being trained on any powered industrial forklift is the law! Refresher training is a strong recommendation, and since everyone does it in North America, it becomes the norm. Insurance companies and their lawyers love the guidelines, and will use any absence of refresher training to increase clients' premiums.

There was a recent court decision in the province of Ontario where the judge took into consideration that a particular person who was involved in a forklift-related incident was not refresher trained and who knows if any dollar amount was incorporated into the fine for the business. The judge cannot use the guideline as a penalty because it is not the law, but we are all human, and people can be swayed.

I have read, on this very site, in one of these editorials, that forklift deaths have slowed dramatically over the years, reduced by the aggressive training that has taken place since 1999 (average). And that is great news! Injuries up is bad news but an injury can be repaired, most of the time, whereas death cannot.

I strongly believe that most companies are aware that their staff must be trained, and are complying. Are they being trained properly? I am not sure, as I have discussed previously. So, they do it once, abiding by the law, and then what? Three years later, ta-da, refresher training.

As much as many businesses do not like training at all, they hate refresher training even more so. I am not sure of their reasoning, but most resent spending the extra few bucks. Hey guys, we have virtually eliminated deaths over the past three years; those few hundred dollars saved you lots!

After almost 20 years in the business, the lack of urgency around refresher training does not surprise me any more. They know to do it, but they tend to hem and haw, and when it is convenient, they eventually get it done. People are not dying throughout their warehouses, so what is the rush?

1. Keeping staff up to date on changes in legislation and liabilities makes them a smarter, better-informed forklift operator.
2. It reminds them of important issues that get lost over time, and keeps these operators from killing themselves, or anyone else.
3. To avoid complacency - that is, to remind them that no matter how well they operate the forklifts, and how safe they may be, by not concentrating on the small details, incidents can, and will, occur.

We trainers work hard, keep many records and remind our clients of upcoming refresher training, but they seldom take notice. Surely, if the business had a fleet of trucks that required new licence plates by a particular date, would the business say that they are too busy to stand in line at the license bureau? No, they wouldn't. It gets done - and on time.

Complacency doesn't just lie with the forklift operators, but with management as well. Get 'er done!
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