Hiring Forklift Drivers – Part II: Sourcing, Interviewing, and training Candidates

Training should include classroom sessions. (Courtesy: Ken Pretell at flickr.com)
Training should include classroom sessions.
(Courtesy: Ken Pretell at flickr.com)

In my first installment of Hiring Forklift Drivers – Part I: Targeting the Right Candidate, I discussed the process of targeting applicants such as identifying and seeking applications from experienced, skilled forklift operators.

In Part II I will discuss how you can identify possible forklift operators from a reservoir of skilled individuals who have no experience driving forklifts.

To find a potential forklift driver who may not have experience with forklifts specifically, you need to consider workers who do jobs that require the same skills and knowledge. This could include:

·      Armed Forces veterans who have experience driving large vehicles.
·      Construction workers who operate large vehicles and/or equipment.
·      Non-traditional workers including the long-term unemployed, former convicts, and people who are looking to re-enter the workforce after a bout and recovery with substance abuse.

To help in your search, you may want to check out The National Association of Workforce Development Professionals. They list community colleges and training non-profit organizations that help the non-traditional candidates prepare to join the workforce. You might find a source through them that trains people for forklift jobs.

Of course, the interview process is essential. This gives you an opportunity to get to know the candidate on a one-on-one basis and seek additional information about his skills that may not appear in a resume or filled-out application form. Your interview can also focus on safety habits and whether or not the prospect is a team player.

Possible questions include:

·      Have you ever suggested how to improve an activity or operation at a previous job? If, he answers yes, ask for details.
·      Have you gone beyond the standards in assisting a customer?
·      Have you shown a concern with safety that has made a difference with fellow workers or to the company you worked for?

You should also ask experienced forklift operators job specific questions like: Explain what a stability triangle is, etc.

Of course, the hiring process must include a training program the prospective driver must go through before starting the job.

The course should emphasize safety and can cover such things as:

·      How a forklift engine works.

Training should also include hands-on sessions. (Courtesy: 25th Combat Aviation Brigrade at flickr.com)
Training should also include hands-on sessions.
(Courtesy: 25th Combat Aviation Brigrade at flickr.com)

·      How to steer a lift.
·      How to use forklift attachments.
·      Vehicle capacity and stability.
·      How to power up the vehicle.
·      Troubleshooting operational problems.
·      Maintaining a forklift
·      What the differences are between a forklift and other vehicles.
·      How to deal with pedestrians in the work area.
·      How to negotiate narrow aisles and uneven surfaces.
·      Unsafe surfaces the driver should avoid.
·      Hands-on activity that includes performing the picking routine.
·      Location of and how to use controls and instruments.
·      How to refuel the lift.
·      How to charge its batteries.
·      Operation limitations
·      How to deal with load stacking, unstacking, and transport.

The new employee training should not be the only training curriculum available. You should also include a refresher course in how to operate a forklift and you should create a policy for when the refresher course is administered to all working forklift employees. For example forklift operators who have been on the job for 3 to 4 years should be required to take the course. In addition, forklift operators who have been observed operating a lift in an unsafe manner, who has been involved in an accident or has received a bad evaluation should be required to take the refresher course.

For more information on developing a training program, refer to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) training program handout.