Forklift Operator Safety Training… What Are the Real Motivators?

Over the past decade, the number of companies putting their forklift operators through formal training has increased significantly.

A major driver in the increase in training is the financial benefits reaped by employers as cost savings related to unsafe forklift operations become more apparent and also the the fact that training may reduce an employer’s liability.

In the Occupational Health and Safety Act Section 25 details an employers responsibility when it comes to providng a safe environment for all workers and Section 51 of the Regulations for Industrial Establishments details the duties and responsibilities specific to lifting devices.

While it is important for employers to make sure their operators are properly trained it is important to consider that these same reasons do very little to motivate the operators themselves. This is a key issue because even the best forklift training programs can fall flat without proper supervision and enforcement, there is an even greater effect when the drivers do not buy in.
Forklift Training must not only provide the mechanics and rationale behind safe, proper operation but the motivation to doing things the right way. This is never an easy task but depending on how one chooses to approach it, it can be less difficult.

For example, it is unlikely that the average operator is going to find the inspiration to follow his/her safety training by listening to management’s rhetoric on the enhanced profitability of the company or even worse,the evils of regulatory contravention. Most people find motivation wherever they believe personal benefits may be gained. In other words, the average operator wants to know, what’s in it for me?
Get with operators, first aid attendants, supervisors or long-term coworkers and ask them about what they have seen and/or experienced and how they would go back and do things differently if they could.
Incident reports, statistical data or articles that illuminate the personal benefits of safety if not the tragic consequences of workplace incidents.
Drawing on the experiences of other forklift operators helps us reach the desired motivational level of the forklift operators during our training.

Although a major motivator for employers to complete forklift training certification for their staff is to be due dilligent and be in compliance with the law, shouldn’t the number one motivator be

to ensure all workers complete work safely in order arrive home and spend valuable time with family.