Material Handling Tips for Advanced Forklift Operators

September 30, 2016

This isn’t my first rodeo! The words echoed by many seasoned and salty forklift operators that have been in the material handling business for years. Whether its procurement, distribution or logistics those with advanced expertise are never keen to be told how to do their job when they have already mastered the trade. However, there is always a need to improve. Instead of regurgitating redundancies, there are some practices that even the most knowledgeable forklift operator should always strive to adhere to. Whether you have been a material handler for two weeks or two decades, here are some tips worth always taken in to consideration:

1. Stay Up To Date On Safety Standards

Reading through many of the industry governing agencies on safety awareness and operating procedures can provide a comprehensive and thorough framework for both the beginner and expert. The protocols are installed by industry experts that have developed methodologies geared to assure the safe handling and utilization of these machines in the most trying of instances. There are narratives for virtually every situation. The obvious candidates are OSHA and EPA, but there are even specific organizations such as the PPSA that delve deeper in to rough terrain forklift operations for example. Even if you know all the standards and codes, there are always updates and new provisions. Thus it is imperative to stay up to date.

2. Never Be Complacent 

Just because a forklift operator has years of experience under their belt, does not meant that trouble cannot come their way if they do not exercise the same caution and discretion as a beginner. In fact, those who are seasoned are more likely to grow complacent in their approach toward day-to-day operations because the grind seems monotonous and routine. It is when peril is least expected that it takes advantage and pays it in full. Therefore, it is imperative to never grow complacent. As always operators should always keep their eyes focused in front of them, constantly surveying the area for potential pitfalls. Just because it has been the same every day, does not mean today will not be different. Furthermore, advanced operators should strive to keep their hands free at all times, in the event a quick and swift maneuver must be executed. With comfort comes belief sometimes that operators can do the same job with less effort or attention, so you may actually find some advanced drivers talking on the phone as they engage in labor. This is a big no-no.

3. Acquire New Skills

The industry is constantly evolving and thus new forms of equipment and tools are becoming available to the masses. For those used to traditional forklift operations, it is always wise to be up-to-speed on emerging technologies and trends. The novice operator does not have to be accustomed to a certain way of doing things. However, the experienced operator will always experience change and should always desire to embrace these changes. Learning new skills is a great way to be the best forklift operator, even if you have fifty years on the job.

Bio: Tom Reddon is a forklift specialist and blog manager for the National Forklift Exchange. He also sits on the Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association (MHEDA) Executive Dialogue team. Follow him on Twitter at @TomReddon.

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