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How much training should you give your forklift operators?

Whether a forklift operator is brand new or doing a refresher, the theory requirement is exactly the same and can be done online using this forklift course. The practical requirement is different, though.

Practical forklift training for new operators

Competenz recommends that new operators have 15 hours of supervised practical training. If you send your operator to an external course, they will get 1-4 hours (depending on the course) on a forklift that is likely to be different to the one they will operate at your business and lifting loads which are different to the ones you will lift at your business. So, these types of courses are OK for a basic familiarisation with forklift operation but, alternatively, you can do all the training in-house and it is more relevant, more effective and less costly. There is no law that says you must send your operators to an external trainer.

If you know a great trainer and the equipment is similar, there is no harm in doing it but bear in mind that after the initial training that is done externally, you, i.e. the PCBU, are still responsible for the remainder of the training, induction and supervision on the equipment you use, lifting the loads you will lift. You can’t avoid your responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 by sending your operators on an external course.

At some point, you have to judge your operator as being competent in your workplace. This might be before 15 hours of training or they may need more. Effectively, you are assessing them while they are doing their work and you can use the detailed assessment sheet and checklist that we provide within the course. Then you should provide them with an ‘authorisation to operate’ – basically an email or printed document that tells them what they are allowed to do. You can view a template here.

Practical forklift training for experienced operators

Experienced operators refreshing their certificate must pass a 10-15-minute practical assessment which is detailed in our course with a comprehensive checklist and a video. Throughout your forklift operators’ employment, your supervisors will be watching for the same things every day, so it makes sense for your supervisors to understand how to conduct a practical assessment. The practical assessment can be done while they are working so that there’s no disruption to the workday.

If your company purchases new equipment or implements new policies, all forklift operators must be given training and induction on this.

If this experienced operator is new to your company, you should still provide an authorisation to operate, as mentioned above.

 

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Darren is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists and the NZ Motoring Writers' Guild

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