You may have heard the Latin phrase, “caveat emptor,” before, which roughly translates in English to, “may he beware, the buyer.”  Today, in commercial use, it’s commonly known as the principle that the seller of a product cannot be held responsible for the quality of a product or service if no warranty is provided.  And while the phrase may have originated with the sale of land/property and farm animals, years ago, the concept is still alive and well in modern day commerce, even in the material handling industry.  In our post today, we are going to talk about the myths and short-comings of using online fork lift training (the employer only thinks it is certification but the they get the bill and paperwork it only states the person attend a class or completed the training course) mills to train you drivers and the dangers that might be lurking.

Myth: OSHA says that I just need to train my operators and have a certificate on file for them, Forklift accidentbut they don’t care where the training comes from.

Truth: While OSHA does not mandate a source, they also do not certify your operators, you do by training them on the topics required by OSHA 1910.178 (l) and on the equipment they will operator in the employer’s work place.  It is up to the employer to make sure that their operators remain competent by evaluating their knowledge and skill every 3 year. Or if the employer changes equipment, work environment or the operator has an accident or near miss the employer must retain the operator in the relevant topics listed in OSHA 1910.178 then judge their competence on the equipment.

Some of the equipment and work environments topics required in OSHA 1910.178 are lift capacities, lift stability, composition of loads handled, and hazards with operating a particular lift in differing load handling challenges. You simply cannot learn to be a good operator that is properly trained on the equipment by taking a canned, online course. To be “OSHA Compliant” the training must be site and truck specific.  Driving a 10,000-pound piece of equipment requires hands-on training on the ACTUAL EQUIPMENT to learn how to properly manage and maneuver that equipment.  Today, because most employers require a piece of paper that certifies that employees have completed a “fork lift training program,” there are now dozens of web-based courses out there to provide that that in reality, have little to no meaning when it comes to successful training.

Why, you ask do they not provide much value or have meeting?  Think about it this way If a lift operator need to pick that is 48” long and then needs to pick a load that is 60” long what is the weight limit of their lift?  Waiting for the rear wheels to start losing contact the ground is not a proactive approach to lifting but purely reactive to the load. …you wouldn’t want a 16-year old teenager to get a driver’s license without the knowledge of what conditions that effect there control of car and being judged if there hands-on experience is high enough, or by just using an online course, right?   You wouldn’t want an experienced driver speeding through unfamiliar terrain in an unfamiliar vehicle when you’re on the road with your family, right?  Then why would it make sense for fork lift operators?  It doesn’t.

Myth: All safety training is the same regardless if it is done online from a standard presentation or an on-site, facility specific, customized training?

Truth: This statement couldn’t be further from the truth.  It’s like assuming that EVERY company handles the SAME loads and uses the SAME piece of equipment.  Which we know is totally false.

With online safety training programs, you typically do not have any real application training.  For example, you might learn about handling a sit-down forklift through wide aisles, while in reality, your facility only uses narrow aisle lift trucks for their smaller footprint.  See the connection? No?  We really don’t either.  It’s like watching a DVD to learn how to drive and tractor trailer when all you need to do is spend some time behind the wheel of a Ford F-150.

Now, we don’t want to spend the post beating up on online, canned safety training programs, because at some point they do add some value for someone, somewhere, maybe.  But now we are going to talk about what BEB’s Safety Training Program can offer that you will NEVER get with an online training program.

  • Training is done in YOUR facility on YOUR equipment by a certified Master Trainer that is a highly sought after industry expert. (He’s sought after by the U.S. Government to testify in major safety related court cases…can your online training say that?)
  • In-person, interactive classroom training.
  • Site assessment to learn about YOUR facility; the product being handling, the loads being handled, the layout of the facility, flooring conditions, condition of the trucks, and more.
  • This site assessment helps determine problem areas to address in the training, lifting too much, using the wrong truck, paths of travel are not correct, aisle sizes are not proper for the equipment.

Long-story short, there’s little data available to back up the success of online safety training program, but you’re able to clearly see that disconnect that can lead to some dangerous results.  Buyers of online training programs should always be aware of the limitations and draw backs that come with NOT having that hands on, unique to the facility training.