What Should Be Included in a Forklift Driving Test?
OSHA regulations require that the employer ensure that each forklift operator is competent to operate a forklift safely. This is accomplished through a combination of classroom and practical instruction and finally by an “evaluation of the operator’s performance in the workplace”; i.e. a forklift driving test. But who is qualified to administer the forklift driving test and what should it consist of?
- First of all the administrator of the forklift driving test must have the knowledge, training, and experience to train and evaluate the competence of forklift operators.
- Second, the forklift driving test must be conducted on the type of forklift the employee will operate in the workplace. If the employee operates more than one type of forklift then he/she would need to receive a driving test on each of the different “types” operated. An example of two different types of forklifts would be a sit-down counterbalanced forklift and a telehandler. However, even within a particular type of forklift there may be enough differences in the controls, etc. that a best practice would be to perform a driving test on more than one model of forklift. This would especially be the case if the forklift has specialized attachments other than forks.
- Third, since the employer is required to “evaluate the operator’s performance in the workplace” the driving test should simulate the tasks that will actually be performed in the workplace. This would include practical exercises that include pre-operation inspection, basic operation, load handling/transporting, load stacking, refueling, and parking.
- Fourth, how long should the driving test be? That will depend on the complexity of the job tasks as well as the skill level of the operator. Make sure you allow enough time to do a thorough evaluation. If you take a short cut here it may result in an accident down the road.
- Fifth, how should you document the driving test? A form works best that ensures that you evaluate all the different aspects of operating a forklift.
If you would like to share your experiences/photos of forklift incidents that can educate others on the principles of safe forklift operation please send them to: bhulberg@D2000safety.com
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