When Online Forklift Training Makes Sense and When It Doesn’t

Wikimedia Commons: Practical training: Senior Airman Marie Zieman, 403rd Civil Engineers Squadron emergency management specialist, guides Tech. Sgt. Emile Babin through a series of forklift operations during October 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Ryan Labadens)

Online or e-learning for forklift training can be beneficial for the classroom portion of the instruction delivery. Here are pros and cons to consider.

According to OSHA requirements, a forklift operator must be at least 18 years old, as well as trained and certified in order to drive a forklift without the direct supervision of a qualified trainer. In addition, lift trucks can only be operated when authorized by your employer.

Forklift operators must be trained in forklift operation, general safety and equipment management procedures. Typically, employers arrange mandatory training for their employees either in their own facility, at a training provider location or online. Individuals interested in obtaining a forklift operator job may undertake training from a training provider on their own to improve their chance of being hired for a forklift operator position. 

It is important to note that OSHA makes the rules but it neither provides training nor certifies operators. Also, it does not approve or accredit training programs. There are many online forklift operator training programs available from which to choose.  When selecting a training option, one important question to ask is “When Does Online Forklift Training Make Sense?”

When Online Forklift Training Makes Sense

  1. When you are just talking about the classroom portion of the instruction. OSHA forklift training requirements include formal (classroom) instructions, practical training and finally the evaluation of operator’s performance. So, clearly, the second and third requirements can’t be fulfilled by an online course.  Formal instructions, however, can be effectively delivered through e-learning.
  2. When you can’t afford to spare a qualified operator to provide the training. When volume spikes or unplanned absenteeism get entered into the equation, all too often the scheduled trainees can report to work for training but be left without a trainer. Online instruction eliminates this risk of lost training hours. 
  3. When there is uncertainty as to when the time will be available to do the training. On demand e-learning courses can be undertaken as time permits. Training can be undertaken anytime.
  4. When the qualified operator who performs your practical training and evaluation isn’t comfortable providing classroom instruction. Some operators make excellent practical trainers but aren’t cut out for the formal instruction aspect.
  5. When there are available computer stations to accommodate trainees. Obviously, without terminals and an adequate Internet connection, e-learning is a poor idea.

When Online Forklift Training Does Not Make Sense

There are a number of situations, however, where online training might not be the best solution. These include:

  1. When your intent is to provide practical hands-on training and evaluation of operator performance. Online instruction is only permitted for formal instructions.
  2. When you believe it is more beneficial to have your practical trainer spend the additional time with trainees to get to know them better before they get aboard a forklift during the practical portion of training.
  3. When you are looking for opportunities for employee growth and development. Organizing and delivering the classroom forklift training content can provide a useful teaching and mentoring experience for the trainer.
  4. When you are looking for every opportunity to instill the company’s values. If the trainees are new hires, it can be worthwhile to have the formal training done by a trusted employee rather than an online service.
  5. When you are at risk of IT problems such as slow internet connection.
  6. When you cannot justify the expenditure on computer stations to allow online learning, or when the online training cannot be run without risk of interruptions while it is session due to the location of the computer stations.

Conclusion

Online forklift training can be a good option to cover the classroom requirements for forklift operation. Online courses from reputable providers are designed to be thorough and engaging. They may be visually appealing, and interactive. They provide the opportunity for the trainee to work at his or her own pace, and of course, the results of training are recorded to aid in your training recordkeeping. To reiterate, however, practical, hands-on training and evaluation of operator performance must take place in the operating environment and include instruction on dealing with site specific risks that would be beyond the scope of an online course.

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