Do You Have What it Takes to Become a Forklift Driver?
Forklift truck drivers are essential to the smooth running of operations in many sectors like construction, manufacturing or warehousing.
To become a forklift truck driver, you don’t need any academic qualifications in things like English and science, but you do need to have completed an approved forklift training course. These courses can take between 3 and 5 days and will combine practical learning with theory to make sure you can operate the truck properly, safely and legally.
Other than the required qualification, there are a certain set of skills and competencies that would benefit any forklift driver; newly qualified or highly experienced.
So if you’re considering starting a career as a forklift operative, have a look over the skills below and see how you match up!
Being able to concentrate on a task may seem like a simple skill, but if you know you are easily distracted from the job at hand, then forklift driving probably isn’t for you. Concentration is one of the most important skills you can have in a potentially dangerous working environment.
The sectors you will be working in are renowned for being hazardous, and have very high accident and injury rates as a result.
As such, your employer will have a health and safety policy that you will need to follow carefully. As a forklift operative, this will include things like carrying out a full inspection of your truck each time you use it, staying within designated forklift zones at all times and keeping to a safe speed limit.
With experience, it is easy to become complacent, so to do your job safely, it is vital you have enough discipline to uphold this strict set of rules all the time.
Calm under pressure
The conditions you will be working in may not always be straightforward. As such you must be organised and prepared enough to change your method of working, at a moment’s notice.
In many industries, there will be peaks in work, where what is expected from you in a normal day will differ – whether this is taking on new tasks or increasing the amount of work you normally do. It is essential you are not easily flustered, and can continue to operate safely and carefully no matter how much pressure you are under.
Again, discipline is vital when it comes to these peak times as you must never be tempted to ‘cut corners’ to get a job done quicker.
Although you don’t need an academic qualification in maths to be a forklift driver, some basic numerical skills will really help you to do your job safely and efficiently.
You need to be able to work out the weight of a load and compare it to the capacity of the truck, taking into consideration the distance you will be travelling, the height the load needs to be lifted to and, sometimes, even the angle of the slopes and corners you need to navigate.
In sectors like construction and manufacturing, forklifts will not be the only equipment you can utilise to get a job done.
Being able to transfer your skills and gain qualifications for other types of mechanical lifting and handling equipment, such as scissor lifts and side loading trucks, can be hugely beneficial to your employer, and of course, your career progression.
As a forklift truck driver, you must constantly be aware of your surroundings so you can keep yourself and other workers or site visitors safe.
Your working environment will probably be very busy and keeping an eye out for hazards will mean that you are prepared to respond quickly and avoid potentially dangerous situations. Pedestrians that could wander in your way, objects in your path that could knock you off balance, or even other vehicle drivers that could cause a collision are all commonplace risks.
Most jobs require a degree of teamwork at some point, but for a forklift operator, teamwork is essential.
You will be working closely with all kinds of other people on site, whether that’s other forklift truck drivers, lorry drivers, the loading team, stock pickers or supervisors. Many of these will require your skills to help them get their jobs done too so you must be able to work alongside people who may have a completely different set of priorities. You will need to able to take their requirements on board, provide assistance when needed and still get your own job done as safely and effectively as possible.
So, you think you have what it takes to be a forklift truck driver?
The fact is that almost anyone can learn these skills and gain the required qualifications if they are dedicated enough.
Whether you’re looking for a forklift training course and qualifications, or you’re interested in becoming an apprentice in the industry – simply get in touch with the team at Health and Safety Training Ltd.
We have years of experience helping new recruits gain the skills they need to be effective forklift drivers, and with our new apprenticeship programmes, there’s a route for everyone, no matter what their level of experience.Writing an Effective Health & Safety Policy Slinger Signaller Hand Signals