Can existing training standards be improved?
As can be seen there are still some serious gaps in the training standards of today. One has to ask the question: how many of the people employed on these various bodies has any concept of what it is like to be stacking loads at up to thirty eight feet high in a blast freezer at thirty degrees below? Or digging a cupola of molten metal out of a blast furnace where the operator consumes twelve pints of beer on every shift to prevent dehydration? Or operating a VNA in a six foot wide aisle stacking loads over forty feet high? Of picking up forty ton containers on the dockside? Should they be overseeing the training of the people who do?
I promise you that it was on my “To Do" list”. It bothered me and I undertook some trials in 1993 and had come up with my solution and was going to tell the industry where we had gone wrong but unfortunately ill health intervened and I left the industry in 1994.
I am genuinely surprised that the problem has not been dealt with, because it is potentially serious. Using hydraulic controls whilst traveling and turning is safe when done properly but has by far the greatest potential for capsizing a truck and its load. In order to perform these method safely an operator has to have very thorough understanding of several things that can have an adverse effect on the lateral stability of the truck and its load.
Unfortunately the emphasis in the current standard is only teaching operators factors which affect longitudinal stability. I am convinced that trainers have a legal obligation to train operators in the methods recommended by the truck’s manufacturer.
I believe that it is time the standards and the tests were updated. Forklift trucks have improved considerably since they were produced and I am sure that if I was still in the business the test, which I designed, would have been changed to include the gating procedure for loading/unloading lorries and trailers over the side. I would probably have been conducting a two stage programme and I think it would still have been a five day course.
Stage 1) Three days basic novice training
Stage 2) Two days operating controls whilst on the move
The theory test would obviously need rewriting too. Of course, this will necessitate change to instructor training so it is not a simple task, but is not insurmountable.
You may ask “What have you done about it Dai?” You were one of the drivers of the current industry! I have written to the HSE, all of the Training Approval bodies, BITA, FTA and the British Safety Council pointing out this flaw in the training standards. Only AITT had the courtesy to reply, the others ignored me completely.
So now you know why we have 5 day courses for Operators and 10 day for instructors and why the training industry has spent over 40 years producing hand brake snatchers instead of professional operators.