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Nick Welch: Training new operators

Monday, 21 Jan 2019 ( #907 ) - United Kingdom
Safety First
Nick Welch
Nick Welch is Senior Technical Development Executive for RTITB, the largest forklift training accrediting body in the UK and Ireland, recognised by the HSE, HSA and HSENI.

Did you know that workers are more likely to have an accident in their first six months on the job than at any other time in their working life? Nick Welch highlights how training can ensure workers’ safety and avoid unnecessary injuries.
Figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that 9,861 injuries per 100,000 workers occur among those six months (or less) into the job. The statistics also show that half of fatal accidents happen during a worker’s first ten days on site, with half of these occurring on the very first day.

1. Deliver Basic Operator Training and more
All too often, we hear from employers that their forklift operators are qualified and safe because they have attended and passed Basic Operator Training. However, no matter how good the Basic Training is, it must be backed up by specific job and familiarisation training before the individual is authorised by an employer to operate in the workplace.  This equips MHE operators with the skills and knowledge relating to the specific equipment that they will use on a daily basis, as well as providing experience of a ‘live’ work environment.

2. Provide context through Specific Job Training
With Specific Job Training, context is added to basic skills and training. Operators will learn the operating principles specific to the equipment that they’ll be using on the job. The forklift operator will learn about the layout and configuration of the controls in the type of machine they will be using – after all, who’s to say that the machine they used in Basic Operating Training is identical to the machine they will be using day to day?
It's not just the machine and controls that are important, operators will also encounter a more realistic working environment during Specific Job Training, varying from confined areas to cold stores, ensuring that they are prepared for likely situations. Operators will also be made aware of site rules such as speed limits, pedestrian areas, traffic flow and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
All these factors combine to help operators work more efficiently and more safely, reducing the risks of an incident, as well as damage to stock or vehicles, during those all-important first six months.

3: Familiarise operators with the ‘live’ work environment
Skills and knowledge gained over the first two stages of training are then put to use in the workplace through lift truck Familiarisation Training. Under supervision, operators start with simple tasks and build towards more complex procedures, allowing them to develop their skills and gain confidence in their actual workplace.
This may be very different to their original training environment so this essential training phase enables workers to gain familiarity with site layout, recognise potential hazards and sources of danger and understand the site rules which ensure employees’ safety.

4: Provide ongoing training and supervision
All three parts of the forklift training process are hugely important when it comes to the safety and security of staff, as well as stock and equipment. However, operator training is an ongoing process and doesn’t just stop there. Continued supervision, assessment and refresher training are also vital in maintaining competence and, in many cases, legal compliance.
As an employer, the safety of all workers, both new and experienced, should always be a top priority.
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