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What are the benefits of forklift training for your staff?

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A forklift is one of the most essential pieces of equipment you’ll find in any factory, warehouse, or other distribution centre – and Budget Forktrucks offers a wide selection for you to choose from.

The importance of a forklift means it’s logical that forklift operators need to be trained to high standards, for a number of different reasons. High quality and ongoing forklift driver training has a range of benefits to offer both the driver themselves and the business – which makes it a wise investment.

So, let’s start with the obvious first step and discuss what forklift training actually is.

What is forklift training?

Forklift training is, naturally, the process of familiarising a potential operator with the way a forklift truck works. For a brand new driver this may include general principles, as forklifts might operate differently to any other machines they have been used to. For example, the majority of forklifts are rear-steer – which can be tricky to get the hang of if you’ve never driven a vehicle with it before.

Then there’s going to be the simple process of how to actually operate the machine effectively. Forklifts have come a long way in terms of their design, and in many cases most essential functions are found in similar places from forklift to forklift. So understanding how to operate the throttle, beacons, horn, and the forks themselves, shouldn’t take too long - especially if the operator already has some mechanical experience.

This, however, is only the beginning of forklift training. The reality is that learning how to actually work a forklift is relatively easy and can be taught in just a few minutes. The challenging part is learning how to drive a forklift truck safely.

For example, forklift trucks are designed to easily carry heavy loads. An operator needs to understand how a heavy load is going to behave when it’s on the front forks, and how to drive the forklift safely in accordance with that. This is obviously essential, because getting it wrong means dropping a load – at the very least this could cause potential damage, at the worst it could potentially lead to on-site injuries.

Forklift training will encompass how to ensure a load is secured properly on the forks, as well as principles of both loading and unloading. It should encompass how to check the forklift thoroughly to ensure it’s safe for use, as well as driving principles, such as how to alter your driving style in different weather conditions. Forklift training is a lot more involved than simply pointing at the ignition and telling them what the steering wheel does.

What are the benefits?

There are many benefits to forklift training – though it’s important to know that the benefits are actually a secondary concern. The principal concern is that it’s not a choice, forklift training and certification is a legal requirement if you’re going to let someone operate a forklift. Remember that if you let someone drive a forklift on your premises without them having the appropriate licence to do so, it’s going to be you who is responsible for it.

The punishments range from written warnings, to fines, and even worse. So forklift driver training is not really an optional investment.

Fortunately, however, there are many benefits that it carries with it.

Efficiency of operation

If you have a forklift in your premises it means that loads need to be loaded and unloaded – the faster you can make this happen, the better. Forklift driver training allows forklift operators to become much more efficient in the way they use the forklift itself, and the way that they both load and unload. Ultimately this is going to allow your business to grow, and make you much more profitable.

Time is possibly the most valuable commodity that any of us possess, and that’s especially true of your business. Proper forklift training will allow you to make the best use of your company time, and maximise your productivity.

Health and safety

Health and safety may be frustrating on occasion, but ultimately it saves peoples’ lives, so it’s a frustration worth dealing with. Forklift driver training is an essential step to ensuring a safe and professional working environment. Knowing how to operate the forklift is important, of course, but it’s also important to know how to drive in a busy yard/warehouse. Proper risk awareness and assessment, and safe driving tips, are all a part of forklift training.

Ultimately this makes your place of business a safer and happier place to work. If someone is injured through the negligence of an untrained forklift driver, it’s you they’re going to seek compensation from. Ensuring drivers are properly trained is a much wiser investment.

What about ongoing training?

Forklift driver training isn’t a choice – if you don’t hire someone who already has a licence to drive a forklift, you’re going to need to train them. That’s a legal requirement, and is essential if you want to comply with official HSE guidelines.

The issue of ongoing forklift driver training, however, is one that’s a little more of a grey area for many businesses. The reason for this is because it’s not actually a legal requirement. The HSE guidelines do suggest ongoing forklift driver training, but it’s not enforceable – currently.

So, are there any reasons you should invest in ongoing forklift driver training? Well, actually, there are.

Ongoing safety

Understanding how to operate a forklift truck safely in a busy working environment isn’t something that you just learn once and then forget about. It’s an ongoing, continual, and constantly developing process. In order to make the best of this, and ultimately ensure the safest possible working environment, regular forklift driver training is the best option available to you.

Keeping training as regular as possible makes the process much less invasive – as it breaks everything down into smaller and more manageable chunks, less driver downtime is required. Official HSE guidelines wouldn’t make ongoing training a recommendation if there was no safety benefit in doing so.

Keep up to date

As time goes on, there are continually developing ways of driving a forklift as efficiently as possible – and new techniques, tips, and training are always going to benefit your business. This can range to anything from more effective ways of performing the daily checks, to more efficient methods of loading and unloading, to improved methods of handling driving in inclement weather.

Keeping your training programs ongoing will allow your forklift drivers to keep abreast of any developments and new thinking. This, again, will ultimately make them more efficient and safe in the way they operate the forklift.

Avoiding bad habits

As time goes on, everyone is guilty of developing bad habits. Corners start to get cut and little time-savings here and there become commonplace. While this is something everyone is guilty of, ultimately it’s something that you want to avoid. These sorts of things can lead to accidents happening, loads being damaged, and your business’ reputation suffering as a result – so it’s important to avoid letting these habits develop.

Ongoing forklift driver training is one of the key ways that you can do just that. Drivers are going to be continually refreshed on what the proper ways of operation are, which means that it’s going to be harder for bad habits to form.

Lower insurance premiums

This isn’t a guaranteed benefit, as it depends on your specific insurance carrier, but it’s possible you might enjoy lower insurance premiums the better trained your drivers are. It stands to reason – insurance premiums are determined based on the level of perceived risk there is. If your drivers are better trained, they’re going to be considered as less of a risk, and the cost of insuring them will go down.

Additionally, if you keep your drivers better trained on an ongoing basis, you’re going to reduce the risk of accidents or damaged goods. This means you won’t have to make any insurance claims, which will lower your premiums.

Driver satisfaction

One of the most important benefits of ongoing training for your forklift drivers is that it makes them happier in their jobs, as well as better at them. Employees are always going to respond when an employer makes a concerted effort to show they’re willing to invest in them. Ongoing driver training sends the message that you’re keen to consistently improve their skills, and that you consider them a long-term member of the team.

Employee happiness is something all employers look to improve wherever possible, and it’s a clear benefit of ongoing forklift training opportunities. The better your drivers are at their jobs, the happier they’re going to be.

Make ongoing training a part of your business

The best way to implement ongoing forklift driver training is to just make it a fundamental part of the way your business operates. This means you don’t have to make special exemptions, and staff won’t have to experience any unnecessary downtime. As with all things, the further you can integrate ongoing training into your daily business operations, the more efficient and less difficult it’s going to be.

This is where Budget Forktrucks comes in – we’re specialists in the forklift industry and can offer your forklift drivers the benefit of our considerable experience. We’re able to develop an ongoing training package that works for you, improves your drivers’ skills, and remains squarely within your budget.

Ongoing forklift driver training isn’t a legal requirement, but when you consider the benefits it becomes one of the wisest investments your business can make. Contact Budget Forktrucks today to learn more, or to discuss with us your bespoke training plan.

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