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.
Picture this: You are lying in a hospital bed after having a massive heart attack or stroke. You are moments from dying. A nurse walks in with two doctors and says: "Sir, I have two doctors for you. One was trained online, and the other by a leading medical school". Which doctor would be your preference? How do you know that the doctor who took the online course actually did the tests himself. Maybe an experienced properly trained doctor answered the questions on his behalf. Scary, isn't it?
Online courses for forklift operator safety are popping up all over the place. They provide this service as an alternative to proper forklift training. They provide a cheaper version, or alternative, to formal classroom training. Then, if the person passes the 'test', they mail out a permit.
Generally, authorities say that a forklift operator must be trained and deemed competent to operate a forklift of the particular class that they will be required to operate. They describe competency as knowledge, training and experience. Normally, operators get their knowledge and training in a classroom setting, and after writing a series of tests, they then get onto a forklift, exercise several manoeuvres, and then their competency is determined. Once completed, the trainer issues a wallet-size permit.
So, my question is: how does an online course determine the ability of any student? It doesn't. Take a one-hour course on your computer, answer a few questions (or at least someone does) and then the issuers of the course, probably in a city hundreds of miles away, grants this person a permit. Then, the operator goes to apply for a position in a plant or warehouse, pulls out the permit ... and gets hired.
WOW! How risky is that? To the safety of the operator, and especially those working around the forklift, who are at risk of becoming seriously injured, or killed. Flash the permit, and all is supposed to be okay? I don't think so.
An operator must know how to use a forklift, and their abilities must be reviewed by a trainer, either an outside firm or an in-house person. Failing that, the person is not competent, and therefore, did not actually pass the course.