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There are five basic steps to complying with the training and evaluation requirements in the revised federal forklift standard, says Richard Sauger, safety specialist with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in Washington, DC, and author of the new standard. These are the steps he outlines:
1. Select employees who can do the job. Don’t take this step lightly, Sauger says. Not everyone should be driving a forklift. And some people who can safely drive one type of powered industrial truck cannot safely drive another type. Some workers may not be able to stand for long periods in some types of trucks, for instance, and the fatigue could lead to lapses in safety.
Consider the person’s mental state, also. If an employee clearly is a daredevil who just doesn’t take the safety warnings seriously, don’t endanger him and everyone else by giving him the keys to a forklift.
2.Determine what they need to know to operate the vehicles safely. This step will depend on what type of powered industrial trucks are in use at the work site, and the specific conditions and hazards present. Remember that there is no universal education for all powered industrial trucks. Employees should be trained on the specific vehicles they will be using, though that may be several types.
3.Train the employees in the proper way to operate the vehicles safely. You can train a group of employees at once, but the standard requires training for individual workers. It is not sufficient to wait until the next round of group training is scheduled and let the worker continue operating a forklift in the meantime. He or she must be trained before allowing the use of a forklift.
4.Evaluate the operator’s performance to ensure that he or she is using the information you provided. "Evaluate means you actually watch that person operate the vehicle and you see if it’s done correctly," Sauger says. "You could set up other methods of testing if you like, but when we say evaluate,’ we’re thinking that you will visually assess whether the operator is putting the information to use."
5.Periodically reevaluate the operator’s performance to ensure that the person still is operating the truck safely. Retrain if necessary. Individual operators will need different levels of attention, Sauger says. Some may need to be reevaluated fairly often, while others are highly skilled and can be trusted on their own for longer periods. "You reevaluate, hopefully, the day after he starts doing something wrong, before it turns into something dangerous," Sauger says. "It really amounts to just plain old supervision. Proper operation of the truck is important for a number of reasons, so we hope employers would supervise it as closely as they supervise other activities in the workplace."
Each operator must be reevaluated whenever prudent and at least every three years. That is the maximum time period that can pass before reevaluation, Sauger says. OSHA does intend for employers to simply wait three years. And remember that the three-year time period applies to the individual employee, not to the entire work force or a group of employees. Even if you periodically reevaluate operators in groups, the standard requires a maximum interval of three years for every single worker.