Forklift training history

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The invention of the famous "red" book

forklift stacking training

Meanwhile MOTEC was inundated with representatives of the media and our courses were frequently interrupted with them asking questions, taking photo’s or filming us. We got a lot of attention because we had a practical training area so there was something to see. The BBC Money program spent about 3 months there!

In the meantime I posted off the course material for our 10 day instructor course with a note telling the approval committee that we had ran several courses using this format and it worked. Several weeks later we were told that it had been approved

Then we were informed by the Director General that Princess Anne would be officially opening MOTEC and several instructors were told what they had to demonstrate to her. I drew a short straw as I was told to get a mannequin of a ballerina, strap it to a new pallet and perform the skaters waltz for her.

Very few people knew how difficult that would be. Even Lansing Bagnal said it would be impossible with our FRER 7 Reach Truck, but with a little unofficial assistance from our local Lansing Engineer we managed it. On the day my performance took up almost 3 minutes of the news on BBC and ITV which is considered to be unusually good PR. I was promised a video of my performance, but I am still waiting. 

In February 1969 we received a phone call from Mr Fortnam at HQ. The Ministry of Labour were insisting that our standard for the selection and basic training of fork truck operators was to be published the following Monday and it had to contain a practical test So Brian and I rearranged our afternoon and we discussed what critical skills had to be tested, then I went out into the practical  area and set up a course and Brian set about creating a marking system.

What we produced had to be changed quite a lot and we eventually settled on a finished product. Then we had to write up instructions on how to set up and administer the test. It was early evening before we finished and Brian had arranged for a motor cycle courier to take our information to the HQ in Wembly and it  was included in the printed standard the following Monday in a red manual entitled “The selection and Basic Training of Fork Truck Operators for Reach & C/B trucks” It became known as the famous red book.

The ITRU were angry because it contained details of our first attempt at producing a trainability test and Mr Fortnam had told them to stop working on the project. Sylvia Downes contacted me to ask me to carry on the research off the record as in her words it was very interesting research. Her department was happy with this idea because the RTITB had commissioned and paid for two years research.

Truck Manufacturers and BITA were also angry because we had printed up the training method of load handling and insisted on a meeting with the RTITB’s directors. The meeting took place in secrecy at MOTEC and went on all day but no report was published. I was informed that the RTITB would produce a bridging course for people to switch from the training method to the Manufacturers method, but it never materialised.

The realisation that by accident and not by design I had written the standard for training and testing both truck operators and instructors. In my wildest dreams I could not have imagined that this would still be in full time use over half a century later.

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