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A fork truck operator’s certificate is no free pass

17 July 2018

NEW RESEARCH from the Association of Industrial Truck Trainers (AITT) suggests significant growth in the numbers of employers recognising the need for additional training when operators are expected to work on new and different types of equipment.

Announcing the figures, general manager of AITT Adam Smith said, “We have identified a 27% rise in the numbers of fork lift truck operators taking conversion courses. It’s a positive sign that our message is getting across.

For too long, it was assumed that once an operator has gained a certificate to drive a forklift s/he was entitled to operate any model with just a bit of practice and experience. Like so much bad practice, it was a based on a heady mix of confusion, ignorance or sheer disregard for the legislation.”

Employers need to be aware that operator training falls into three distinct categories, with conversion training required to extend an operator’s range of equipment.

Basic training covers all the knowledge and skills needed to safely operate a particular fork lift (complete with attachments). It takes place “off the job” over several days and is very comprehensive, covering 16 distinct areas.

Specific job training follows basic training or can be combined with it. Also conducted away from the everyday working environment, it is application-specific: in conditions similar to those that operators will face in the workplace.

The third is familiarisation training which is carried out in the actual workplace and allows the operator to apply skills learnt in the previous two training stages under real conditions.

Alongside these is conversion training. It’s designed to enable a trained and experienced operator to work on a wider range of fork lifts. This may mean learning to operate a truck from a different category, (eg, enabling an operator of counterbalance trucks to operate reach or articulated truck etc). It’s also needed when an operator is required to operate a much larger or more powerful model of the same category of equipment for which they are trained… but where controls may be very different.

Progress is being made but there is still plenty of confusion out there” adds Adam Smith. “We are happy to advise employers on their responsibilities in confidence and without any obligation."