At first, glance, operating a forklift can look pretty straightforward. In fact, many people believe that if you can drive a car, you can drive a forklift. It isn’t that simple. Operating a forklift requires an entirely different driving style to any other vehicle, which is only taught with specialist training. To help clear up rumours you might have seen on social media, here are the most common misconceptions about driving a forklift that you need to know before starting your training.
You Need To Have A Driver’s License
It might sound strange, but you don’t need any kind of specialist license to operate a forklift. That includes a driver’s license, so even if you can’t drive a car, you can still apply to be a forklift operator. As long as you attend regular training and refresher sessions to help you understand how to use the machinery safely, you’ll be good to go.
All Training Is Completed In A Forklift
This isn’t always true. While some companies will choose to teach individuals in one of their regular forklifts, some are choosing to opt for virtual reality forklift training instead. Though it’s quick and cost-effective VR training is still a valid certification approved by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In the UK VR training is yet to receive the same level of use as it does in the U.S.
How it works:
A real forklift truck is plugged into a VR port to simulate a warehouse. Using the controls and a VR headset, drivers can familiarise themselves with the operations without having to worry about causing an accident in the workplace.
And then there’s the theory test, which you’ll sit at the end of your training. This means around 10% of your training time will be spent in a classroom, learning the theoretical element of driving a forklift.
Forklifts are just like driving a car
Forklifts have four wheels and an engine, so it must be like driving a car, right? Wrong. That’s about as far as the similarities go, which is why you need to attend a training course to learn the ins and outs of forklift operation. Unlike a car, forklifts are very heavy, and unlike any other vehicle, a forklift uses its rear wheels to steer. They also have a three-point suspension system, which means they handle very differently from any car, van, or lorry you might drive. If a forklift isn’t driven in the correct way, there’s an increased danger of swinging out and causing damage or injury.
Forklift training is just learning to drive forwards
Though you’ll learn how to safely drive a forklift forwards, that isn’t the entirety of the training course. You’ll actually find that the majority of your training will be spent driving in reverse, with professional instruction and practice helping you to move through the warehouse safely.
You’ll also be taught how to drive with a load on the front of your forklift and how to carry out the essential safety checks before climbing into the driving seat.
Forklift training takes a long time
Despite the many components of forklift training, a course can be done in just 5 days. This allows enough time to cover the theory, technique, and safety before focusing on the practical driving time.