Five Ways to Keep Forklift Operator Safety a Priority

Five Ways to Keep Forklift Operator Safety a Priority

Forklift Operator Safety

In a warehouse environment, forklift safety should be among top priorities, especially when it comes to operator safety. Forklift operators wield the power of large and potentially dangerous equipment in a facility where mistakes can be costly on multiple fronts. It is the company’s duty and requirement to train forklift operators to keep safety top of mind.

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It’s not enough to simply meet the OSHA requirements. Certainly, you want to conduct regular training and make sure the check-boxes are filled, but more importantly, you should aim to create a culture of safety in your operation and a mindset of forklift safety first among your operators. This includes not only ensuring that your operators know the ins and outs of forklift safety from speed limits and pedestrian right of way to visibility and load requirements, but also that they learn to take ownership for safety.

Why Operator Safety is so Important

There is no doubt, safety should be a priority in any business. But perhaps one of the most important and weighty among safety topics is forklift operator safety. Not only does proper operator safety practice keep your operator safe, it also protects your other employees, your products, and your equipment such as the forklift itself and pallet racking. There is a lot at stake in the hands of your forklift operators.

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Ultimately, when forklift operators keep safety as their top priority, the operation stands to save big in the long run. Safe operators save the company lost time, first and foremost. They also save the company on costly equipment repairs caused by forklift collisions with racking and improper equipment use. And, on top of that, they save the company from having to replace damaged product.

Safe forklift operators are the key to a smooth functioning operation. When forklift operator safety is a priority, productivity and throughput increase.

Five Ways to Prioritize Forklift Operator Safety

The best way to encourage a culture of safety is to engage your operators on multiple fronts. Instead of just throwing the information their way at boring, required meetings, be proactive in taking an engaging approach to safety. Don’t just fill a check box. Instead, draw your operators into the process.

According to an informative blog post by Crown Equipment, here are the top five ways to keep forklift operator safety a priority in your facility:

1. Set Aside Intentional Time

Forklift operator safety shouldn’t be a once a month checkpoint that comes and goes. Instead, set aside time regularly to prioritize safety in the real-time environment. Give feedback on the job, discuss safety in conversation, remind your employees to keep up with their training, encourage questions and peer-to-peer assistance, and conduct impromptu hands on training on the job.

2. Celebrate Safety

Behavior rewarded is behavior repeated. It’s an age-old psychological principle. If an employee is recognized for his or her safety, the whole team will be more likely to keep safety top of mind. When employees know that management is watching and engaged in safety, they will jump on board, too. Take the time to not just reward safety with standard awards like “safe employee of the year.” While such recognition is great for improving safety culture, some of the best celebrations of safety are the ones that happen in the moment on the job. Call employees out for a job well done in front of their peers. Announce a safety win in the company newsletter or social media pages. And encourage your employees to recognize and celebrate each other’s accomplishments in safety, as well.

3. Make It a Friendly Competition

There’s no doubt about it, competition is one of the most engaging methods a company can employ. Set goals for training and post your employees’ progress. All operators don’t have to be after the same goal to see how they are progressing towards their goal. Keep tabs on who is what percentage done with their current training module, for example. In addition, consider making real-time on the job metrics competitive. Keep a dashboard of safety infractions and report on it to the team. Reward your highest performers regularly. Above all, when it comes to creating an engaging competitive safety environment, keep it friendly and keep it going. Don’t berate employees for not rising to the top. Instead, reward your top performers. This will encourage your team to step up their game without you having to call anyone out. And be sure to keep the competition going, but also keep it fresh. Add themes or topics to your competitions or conduct seasonal competitions, but don’t stop the competitions altogether. Consistency is key when it comes to creating a culture of safety.

4. Utilize Your Data to Set Goals

With all the fleet management software options available today, it is easier than ever to keep tabs on your operators’ real-time safety metrics. Set goals based on your numbers. What does idle time look like? How many collisions occur each month? Use your metrics to be intentional about your training. If it’s a group problem, set a universal goal; if it’s a group problem (for example, a certain shift or team), set group goals; if it’s an individual problem, set aside time to work one-on-one with that operator to make improvements.

5. Modernize Your Training

There’s no reason to use the old style of safety training these days. A video and brief discussion no longer holds an audience captive. While it’s okay to use the tried-and-true video-discussion method occasionally, be sure to keep things fresh with hands-on training sessions and demonstrations. Employ computer-based training for your operators, as well. Both hands-on and computer-based training allow for the individual to learn at his or her own pace and to focus on potential problem areas. Instead of getting lost in the crowd, employees are more engaged and take greater accountability for their own learning with modernized training methods.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, forklift operator safety is about keeping your workplace safe and productive. Your employees, product, and equipment are important, and their protection rests in the hands of your operators.

Encourage true safety engagement by making it a priority from the top down. The more that you work with your employees, encourage safety on the job, and keep the conversation going, the more that safety will remain top of mind. Safety should be more than just a requirement; it should be a workplace lifestyle.

Interested in setting up forklift operator training for your employees? Check out Lift Power’s operator training courses, today.

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