Factors Driving the Fork Truck Free North American Movement The Legal Requirements for Fork Lift Truck Operator Refresher Training

April 14, 2017 Fork Truck Free Info 3855 Views


Lift truck operators, even those who are trained and experienced, need to be routinely monitored in the workplace and, where necessary, retested or refresher trained to make sure they continue to operate lift trucks safely.

OSHA does require that every forklift operator be trained and certified to operate the powered industrial truck in the workplace, and that the operator’s performance be evaluated on the provisions of 1910.178(l)(3) every three years. That is the only operating “license” required by OSHA.

There is an Approved Code of Practice and guidance for Rider-Operated lift trucks aimed at employers and those responsible for the safe operation of lift trucks, as well as those in control of worksites, the self-employed, managers, and supervisors. This guidance started in Europe and explained why there was early adoption of the FTF (Fork Truck Free) initiatives. The guidance states: “There is no specific time period after which you need to provide refresher training or formal assessment. However, you may decide that automatic refresher training or a retest after a set period (for example 3-5 years) is the best way to make sure your employees remain competent. Where you adopt this approach, you will still need to monitor performance in case operators need extra training before the set period ends.”

While a trained operator is more productive, an operator-free truck is most productive, able to work 24/7, without training, health insurance, or a lunch break. While it is great for fork truck drivers to understand the design, capabilities and limitations of a forklift it is a waste of time, money, and resources when an Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) can simply perform the needed tasks.

Engaged employees have less stress because the operators can be placed in higher functioning, better paying positions without training repeated on driving a forklift. AGVs have already programmed the potential obstacles within the facility.

Industrial Carts Driven by AGVs Equals Damage Reduction

Constant and costly training information about the safe operation of a forklift, should theoretically reduce damage. The theory is that knowledge results in a decrease of damage to products, machines, and facilities. The budget allocation for damage throughout the year and investigated reasons for the recorded accidents and damages, quickly drive the rationale for the North American FTF movement. The majority of instances could have been prevented with a safer AGV and mother/daughter cart operation.

Workers Compensation Costs Driving Rationale for FTF

Workers compensation coverage is based on industry risk and is expensive for many companies. Most insurance providers for buildings, products, and machinery will reduce general insurance rates when a company has transformed the training process of drivers to the automation via AGVs and carts. These data permit the manufacturers to remain in compliance with the law.

Automation in the FTF environment ensures employees enjoy the work day without injury.  Reviewing additional benefits of FTF demonstrate it is worth the investment of time and money.

Since some FTF initiatives are partial, meaning there are still some fork trucks on the plant floor, regular refresher training ensures operators maintain good driving habits, learn new skills where appropriate, and reassesses abilities. Refresher training or retesting might also be appropriate where operators have not used trucks for some time, are occasional users, appear to have developed unsafe working practices, had an accident, or a near miss. Also, with more than 30% of all existing manufacturing plants, operations managers are forced to ensure that drivers have been trained to adjust to their working practices or environments.

Because these are not set training refresher courses, the costs can vary greatly.  Ultimately this training should be designed to overcome the weaknesses highlighted by the monitoring/assessment process. This added cost is eliminated in a FTF environment.  Automated Guided Vehicles have all the safety elements embedded and are not subject to the mercurial nature of fork truck drivers.

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