Shortage of forklift operators in specialised jobs


Australian Forklift Training, a division of the newly established Australian Quality Training Institute, has trained around 4,500 forklift operators over the past 12 months.

According to marketing manager Nathan Wade, there is a shortage of forklift operators in some specialised parts of the industry, for example, experienced high-reach forklift operators.

He tells News that in general, there is a high turnover in most forklift jobs because operators usually change jobs if even a slightly higher income is offered elsewhere.

The company offers a variety of courses such as forklift license; order picker license; refresher training courses; risk assessment/site reports; elevating work platform license; and walk-behind forklift training.

Its two-day forklift operator course enables a complete novice to be trained and licensed to operate a forklift safely.

Wade says companies which do not have clear policies and procedures for how they want their forklifts operated are compromising safety standards in the industry.

“Most put too much faith in the belief that their operators know what they are doing and will do the right thing. Safety can’t be left to chance,” he says.

“Companies need to tell operators exactly how they are expected to operate in each job function and monitor operators to ensure that procedures are being followed.”

“Safety doesn’t happen by accident: only through proper planning and monitoring.”

The company provides a number of free forklift driving tips on its website, one of which relates to the common causes of forklifts tipping over sideways.

The site warns that most sit-down (counterbalance) forklifts have a narrow wheel base and can easily be tipped over sideways.

“Many operators have no idea how close their bad driving habits bring them to tipping the forklift over,” Wade says.

“A large number of accidents where forklifts roll over are caused by drivers trying to turn the forklift just a little faster than they usually do.”

“Their normal bad driving habits have them operating so close to tipping over that just a small change like going a few kilometres per hour faster than usual or having the load raised a little higher than normal can spell disaster,” says Wade.

The most common causes of a forklift tipping over sideways include:

• Turning at speed;

• Driving over uneven surfaces;

• Unevenly distributed load;

• Driving with a flat, or underinflated tyre;

• Driving too fast (loaded or unloaded);

• Turning with the load raised;

• Braking too hard when cornering; or

• Side shift not centred.

“When two or more of the above-mentioned causes are combined, it is almost certainly a recipe for disaster,” Wade warns.

“It’s also important for companies to highlight areas such as uneven surfaces and places where operators are known to turn and travel fast so that procedures for operating safely can be established.”

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