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Mandatory training time

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

I have been looking at some of the online forums regarding training and thought it might be worthwhile to tackle the issue of mandatory training hours for forklift operator certification. First, as a U.S. based trainer, I have not dealt with any standards that require a specific number of hours to certify an operator, such as I hear are used in other countries. Mandatory hours are both good and bad in my opinion. The positive side of a mandatory number of training hours is that you can at least ensure they have a certain number of hours under their belt before they are qualified to operate on their own. The downside is that it does not allow for the flexibility to fast track people that are more advanced, or to deal with folks that are slower learners. In a similar situation, a young adult in the U.S. must have so many hours of training before operating a car alone, this gives them a base of training, but it is based on the average teenager and thus is not a perfect solution for each unique young person.

I can see where some trainers might have a problem with a required number of hours since it cuts down on their flexibility. However, I would ask them, “Is it better to have no required hours at all?” It scares me that some operators in the U.S. get very little or no practice operation before they are certified to operate. On the other hand, if I had to spend weeks with each operator, that might not be ideal either, especially for more advanced people. One solution might be to keep the mandatory hours fairly low and then allow more or less time depending on what the trainer sees of the student during those initial hours. Some operators might progress immediately into the final evaluation stage after the required hours, and others might enter remedial training, if they were still not up to par. Quantity does not always produce quality, nor does quality, with very little quantity, work well either. There has to be a mix of both to achieve the desired results. Nothing can take the place of a well trained and seasoned trainer’s opinion of the operator in the actual workplace, but certain guidelines can assist in getting operators well prepared to succeed in the workplace.

Written by Brian Colburn of Forklift Training Systems, a leading provider of forklift safety training and materials. Forklift Training Systems can be contacted at 614-583-5749 or at Visit them on the web at