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.
Should you continue delivering forklift training? That's a decision that only you can make once you've determined how safe you can keep those within your team. You should also bear government and HSE guidance in mind.
However, in the current climate, people who are working within the food, hygiene or health supply chain are considered 'essential workers'. So, even though we're in the midst of a pandemic, safety within these operations should never be compromised. This makes delivering operator training as important as ever, if not more so.
If you do decide to continue delivering MHE operator training, here are 10 ways to help minimise risk:
1. Before any training takes place, be sure to consider your instructors' health. Do they suffer from any health issues that might mean they're at high risk from coronavirus? If so, they should be at home in isolation.
2. Keep an eye on your instructors and monitor them for any symptoms. It might only be a cough or sneeze to begin with, but things could quickly develop. During times of increased pressure, some people might be too proud to admit when they aren't feeling quite right in fear of letting people down.
Use of PPE minimises the risk
3. Practise social distancing in the workplace by ensuring that everyone stops shaking hands and keeps 2 m from one another at all times. Visual tools, such as floor markings, can help you to ensure that this takes place.
4. If you're delivering training at a customer's premises, don't be afraid to discuss exactly what safety measures they have in place. For example, are they testing employee temperatures? Are they sending anyone home who is showing symptoms? How are they keeping the premises clean? It might be suitable to continue training in some premises, but not in others. It's up to you to make the decision as it will all depend on what is being done to ensure that your instructors are staying safe.
5. Carry out and record a risk assessment. Reassure your team that if at any point during training they suspect that any of the control measures identified in the risk assessment have not been implemented, they can cease the training without fear of any repercussions.
6. Don't allow your instructors to travel to training on public transport. If possible, ask that candidates do not use public transport, either.
7. Ensure that everyone washes their hands for a minimum of 20 seconds when they arrive at a premises, as well as at regular intervals throughout the day. Be sure to provide instructors and candidates with tissues, along with hand sanitiser and a bin, to help avoid the spread of germs in the training environment.
8. Keep your working environment clean - be sure to wipe down and sanitise any desks, chairs and other hard surfaces that are used every morning and during any break times too. Did you know that there are 3,543,000 bacteria on each square inch of the average keyboard? Don't forget to clean these regularly!
9. If practical forklift training is taking place, be sure to sanitise all hand controls, hand holds, the steering wheel, door handles and seat belt buckles, etc. Do this at the beginning of the day and at regular intervals, as well as whenever a new person is going to use the truck.
10. Consider using an online tool to minimise the amount of instructor contact time needed. Online instruction ensures people can reduce social contact, and some tools have been shown to increase training effectiveness and can also reduce operator basic training time by as much as two days per course.