Even if you aren't a big-box retailer, many small businesses still deal with large boxes of merchandise and tall shelving displays. If you are planning on opening a store with these concerns, you may need to invest in forklifts. Not only will forklifts help you safely move and store product, they could actually increase your productivity. One Wisconsin company saw a 75% increase in productivity when they updated their forklifts!
Here are some common questions you may have concerning forklifts.
Do Your Employees Need Training to Operate a Forklift?
The quick answer is yes! Even if you just plan to use a forklift temporarily to move some merchandise, your employees still need to be trained according to OSHA regulations. There must also be a documentation that your employee has completed the training successfully as per OSHA guidelines. And only employees over the age of 18 can be certified in this training.
Although forklifts only account for a small amount of factory accidents, OSHA estimates that about 70% of all the accidents that do occur could be prevented with better training.
If training all of your employees seems daunting, the good news is that you can streamline this task somewhat. As long as a certified operator can see and hear the forklift, an employee who is still in training can operate the forklift under their care. However, be sure that your employees don't exploit this rule to rush their work. An operator can only keep their attention on one person at a time, not multiple forklifts.
What if It is Not Viable for Employees to Get Trained Right Away?
If you don't have the time to train yourself or your employees at the moment, you still have options. For example, if you have any new job postings, only interview potential hires that have passed forklift certification.
If you don't have the time or money to hire new candidates or invest in vehicular forklifts, you may want to look into pedestrian forklifts (where you push a cart), hand-trucks, and low-lift stackers. These types of machines are not driven around, but rather rolled to the loading or unloading site.
While not as convenient as forklifts, these machines can still carry thousands of pounds of merchandise. These alternatives are really good because they are ergonomic and don't require you or your employees to strain muscles from lifting. The caveat is that training for these kinds of options do vary by state—so even if they don't require the same stringent OSHA certifications, you still are responsible for looking into any training requirements!
Who Can Train Your Employees to Operate a Forklift?
You can contact OSHA to find training in your area. Also, many local companies that rent forklifts can provide efficient hands-on training before handing any equipment over. If your company is still growing, forklift rentals are great because they are often available to businesses with minimal credit. And since many workplace accidents are due to vehicles that have been poorly maintained, having a rental is often better since these companies have the latest technology and properly care for the mechanical aspects.
If you do a quick Google search, you will find that training is more viable than you think. Many courses given by forklift rental companies only take a few days (longer for rough-terrain forklifts). And once you and/or your employees are trained, your certification is good for a few years before you need a certification refresher.
Although it may be a hassle at first, it's really in your best interest to look into training measures for all your employees as soon as possible. While forklift accidents are often covered by worker's comp, you don't know how long severe your employee's injuries could be or how long they could be absent from work.