Forklifts come in many shapes and sizes, but they have one thing in common: they are all potentially quite dangerous.
There are almost 100,000 injuries involving forklifts every year in the United States. In 2015, 96 workers were killed in incidents involving forklifts and a recent fatality at a Hawaii worksite has forklift safety once again top of mind.
Most deaths involving forklifts are caused by the forklift tipping over and crushing the worker. Other fatalities happen when someone is crushed against a surface or between vehicles; struck or run over; or falls from a platform on the forks.
“Reckless driving without a seatbelt is too often a factor in cases of forklift driver deaths,” says ALTRES Director of Risk Management, John Fielding. As an employer, you are ultimately responsible for the safety of your employees.
OSHA estimates that 70% of forklift-related accidents could have been avoided with proper training and policy.
It is all too easy to put off training or consultations until the busy season is over, or you meet that next milestone. But consider that if you do delay and there is an accident, your business may be cited for negligence and a lack of oversight.
You cannot control the actions of each employee, but you can help prevent accidents with a strong and ongoing commitment to safety. Proper certifications with ongoing assessments and training are key to preventing forklift-related injuries.
Options for training include public classes, customized services such as those provided by simplicityHR by ALTRES, or your own, in-house forklift training and certification programs.
How to Issue a Forklift Certification at Your Worksite
In order to be in compliance with the law, anyone who uses a forklift on your worksite must be certified to operate that specific machine. It doesn’t matter if they’ve been certified to use a forklift on a different worksite. Certification is specific to both the equipment and the worksite.
Many are mistaken about the cost(s) associated with getting a new employee certified. It is possible to issue a forklift certification right at your own facility, at no cost, if you meet the following requirements.
- The employee in question has past experience driving a forklift. The first step in avoiding off-site training sessions is hiring an employee who has previous verifiable forklift experience.
- The employer already has a qualified forklift operator working at their worksite. This person could be you, a supervisor, or one of your other employees; it doesn’t matter as long as you have at least one certified forklift operator currently working at your facility.
- The qualified forklift operator is capable of training and testing the new employee on the company forklift. OSHA standards require that this training consist of a combination of formal instruction (lecture, discussion, and interactive computer learning), practical training (demonstrations performed by the trainer and exercises performed by the trainee), and performance evaluation. This training must include discussion on all issues regarding safety.
- The employer can ensure that the forklift is operable and would pass an OSHA inspection. You are responsible for providing employees with a safe work environment, which includes reliable tools and machinery. OSHA laws require that all forklifts be examined daily before being placed in service. Any vehicle that is in need of repair, or is in any way unsafe, should be removed from service.
If you meet all of these requirements, then an offsite training session is not necessary. You can actually certify them yourself! You may legally produce a card that certifies the employee to drive your forklift. This card should include the employee’s name, training date, date of certification, and the trainer’s signature.
However, if you are unable to satisfy ANY of these requirements, then you will be required by federal law to make sure your employee attains the proper training and certifications before operating your machinery.
Forklift Certification Training in Hawaii
Certification and training help prevent forklift-related accidents and may save lives. A long-term commitment to safety keeps your business more productive, reduces workers’ compensation costs, minimizes temporary disability insurance (TDI) claims, lessens the chance of fines from OSHA, and most importantly, shows your employees the value you place on their health and well-being.
In Hawaii, you can find classes at Leeward Community College or through organizations like the Hawaii Transportation Association. simplicityHR by ALTRES also offers certification and training to clients.