6 Common Misconceptions When Operating A Forklift
At a first glance, operating a forklift truck looks pretty straightforward to the untrained eye. In fact, many people believe that if you can drive a car, then you can operate a forklift with relative ease. However, this simply isn’t the case. Driving a forklift requires an entirely different driving style to any other vehicle, which is only taught with specialist forklift training. To help clear up any assumptions regarding forklift driving, this blog will discuss the six most common misconceptions about operating a forklift that you should know about.
You Need To Have A Driver’s License
The first common misconception regarding operating a forklift is quite an unusual one. It relates to a forklift driver’s licence. What makes this so peculiar is that in the UK, there is no physical ‘forklift licence’ to obtain as you would a standard drivers licence but in fact, it’s more of a certificate. The beauty of this however is that even if you can’t drive a car, you can still apply to be a forklift operator as like we have said, it is a totally different procedure than a standard vehicle on the road. This is because a forklift uses its rear wheels to steer and a three-point suspension system, which means they handle very differently from any car. As long as you attend regular training sessions to help you understand how to use the machinery safely and pass the forklift training protocol, you’ll be able to achieve a forklift truck licence.
All Training is Done in A Forklift
While some companies will choose to teach their staff in one of their regular forklifts, many are opting for the new and cost effective Virtual Reality (VR) forklift training. VR training is a valid option for new and existing forklift operators to enhance their skills. There are a plethora of training courses available that can bring licence holders up to standard when it comes to operating a forklift. To receive a valid forklift licence or a RTITB (Road Transport Industry Training Board) recognised certificate, you will be required to attend a forklift training course.
A forklift training course covers, but is not limited to, the following areas:
- Lift truck controls
- The operators’ safety code
- Lift truck stability
- Starting/moving/stopping and steering the forklift truck
- Operation of hydraulic controls
- On/off ramp driving
- Vehicle loading and unloading
Second Hand Forklifts Are Not Good Value For Money
This assumption is so far from the truth it is almost laughable. Second hand forklifts are exceptional solutions for transportation and warehousing business for many reasons. For example, they naturally have lower insurance premiums. This is because the unit itself is worth less when it is used. Insurance companies will typically charge you based on the value of your unit, and so they will know that it will cost less to replace (if any damage or theft occurs) than a brand new forklift. In addition, used forklifts can be serviced by any mechanic qualified to work on your particular forklift. Whereas new forklifts will almost more than likely need to be serviced by the forklift brands own mechanics to keep the unit within its warranty. As such, you can experience lower maintenance costs when you buy a used forklift. Just be mindful that you fully assess a used forklift before purchasing so that no hidden problems suddenly arise once you have signed that dotted line.
A 17 Year Old Can’t Drive a Forklift
Some people naturally ask the question: “Can a 17 year old drive a forklift?”. Well, to answer this misconception, yes a 17 can drive a forklift. According to the HSE, anyone who is above the MSLA (Minimum School Leaving Age) is allowed to be operating a forklift truck. However, the only exception to this rule is if the individual is to be working in a port or similar setting whereby the minimum age to drive a forklift is 18.
You Don’t Need A Forklift Insurance Policy
Employees or people who are not consistently exposed to the environment of warehouse and transportation business may assume that because the majority of forklift operators work is to be conducted on a private premise, you don’t need an insurance policy on your forklift. This however is yet another common misconception that people naturally think. In fact, many people actually forget to insure their forklift which can often result in costly difficulties later down the line if any accidents occur. Many business insurance policies won’t cover damage arising from using a forklift, so an insurance policy needs to be put in place. It’s also important to note that forklifts can be utilised for road use so long as they meet the necessary vehicle standards. For this reason alone, you need to have your forklift insurance to not only protect yourself, but to protect others when operating on the road or similar settings.
Forklift Training Takes A Long Time
A final misconception when operating a forklift truck is the length of time to complete a standard training day. Training courses vary from absolute novice training (which takes five days to complete the course) to refresher training which may take approximately 6.5 hours to complete. The five day novice training allows enough time to cover the theory, technique, and safety before focusing on the practical driving time while the refresher training focuses on enchanting already existing forklift driving skills like spatial awareness and driving technique.