A Guide to Forklift Training: Straight Mast and Extended Reach Forklifts

Straight mast forklifts do not have an input and output load beam, so the lifting method differs from hydraulic-powered forklifts. They are usually installed in large factories and logistics centers and require large spaces for transport. Their lifting height is up to 3 meters. Straight mast forklifts have a seatbelt, so driving can be done while sitting or standing.

When training begins, the key points to remember while teaching straight mast forklift operators include:

  1. Before starting the engine, check that all functions are in order before sitting on the seat and driving.
  1. When driving, you must use the steering wheel and pedals to control the direction. The load beam will be used to manage the forklift.
  1. Keep the load beam in a horizontal position while driving and avoid extending or lowering it when not necessary.
  1. When approaching another vehicle or worker, you should lower the load beam to 1 meter above ground level. Wait for them to give way before continuing forward.
  1. Be wary of obstacles, such as walls and people, when approaching them. You should not make sudden turns, or you may run into nearby objects.
  1. When lifting the load, keep the load beam horizontal while raising it to avoid overturning. It is best to lift the load from the side when it is too heavy to lift from both the front and back. Do not try to lift a heavy item directly from a standing position. Only operate this forklift for routine tasks after completing this training process.

The straight mast forklift has a more petite frame and a height of 1.5 meters. It can move objects up to 150 kilos, such as standard pallets, boxes, etc.

Extended reach forklifts have an input and output load beam, so it is a matter of skill to operate the lift. These forklifts are usually installed in warehouses and may be used either on a fixed or stand-alone basis. The lifting height is up to 1.2 meters. As with straight mast forklifts, a seatbelt also helps reduce the risk of injury when driving.

They are also called LPG forklifts and have fixed telescopic mast that can rise to 4 meters above ground level. They move by lifting and lowering the load beam. They can lift loads weighing up to 10 tons and have an adjustable fork height of up to 2 meters.

Training for this type of forklift is different from that of the straight-mast one:

  1. The operator should sit in a comfortable position before starting to drive. If they are not in a proper sitting position, they will not be able to operate smoothly; they will feel numbness and tingling in their legs during driving, which is not suitable for use.
  1. The load beam control handle should be used as little as possible so it can be operated more efficiently.
  1. Be more aware of the steering wheel, pedals, and load beam when driving on a slope. The load beam should be kept horizontal while driving to avoid tipping over. In addition, if you start driving without keeping the beam flat, you must use the steering wheel to adjust its position before moving forward.
  1. When workers or vehicles near the forklift while driving, they should lower the load beam to 1-1.5 meters above ground level and wait for others to move away before proceeding.

Learning how to use a forklift effectively is an essential skill that has a significant impact on safety in the workplace. There are some critical points to keep in mind when teaching workers to use forklifts safely:

  1. Because straight mast forklifts have an adjustable load beam, which can be increased or decreased, drivers must be cautious of load beam height. 
  1. The input and output beams of LPG and straight mast forklifts are movable; drivers must become familiar with them before driving. On specific terrain and slope, an operator who does not know how to operate the forklift may fall over and injure themselves if they ignore their surroundings and take control of the situation.
  1. A driver must wear shoes suitable for driving. The weight of the load and the speed of movement will affect the strength of one’s legs, so operators must wear shoes appropriate for their conditions and training.
  1. The position of a forklift is crucial for safety. An operator who does not know how to drive should keep the wheel in a horizontal place and use the steering wheel when moving forward or turning left or right to avoid falling over.
  1. When lifting the load beam, the tips of their toes should always be positioned on the ground to ensure stability.
  1. When operating a forklift, drivers should look out for workers and residents and avoid driving near walls, doors, and corners where they may be injured by falling over or striking them.
  1. When approaching another vehicle or worker, drivers should not raise the load beam above their shoulders. If necessary, they can stop before moving forward to avoid striking them. They must also keep their fingers and hands away from the load beam to prevent injuries caused by falling over or striking objects nearby.
  1. Drivers should have a good grasp of the steering wheel while driving straight mast forklifts, raising or lowering the load beam depending on their body height and the situation. Workers must learn how to control the steering wheel when turning left or right to prevent forklifts from tipping over when turning at an uneven angle.
  1. When lifting the load beam, drivers should use both hands to support objects farther away and avoid lifting objects too heavy for one person.
  1. Drivers should step on both pedals to control the direction of a forklift truck in straight mast forklifts to ensure stability when driving up or down slopes and decrease the chance of falling over.

How Training Can Increase Efficiency in Your Workplace: 

Forklift training is offered at various levels depending on the equipment’s complexity. Commonly available courses include forklift operator training focusing on most aspects of operating a forklift and specific functional areas such as loading techniques or hazardous materials handling. Knowledge gained through operator training applies directly to forklift operations. For example, a study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy of the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital showed that forklift operator training reduces injuries by 76%.

Practical operator training as part of a company training program has many benefits. Employees who have completed OSHA-required Forklift Operator Training have reduced chances of getting injured due to forklift operation. Additionally, completing an OSHA-compliant forklift safety course helps operators identify hazards related to using their forklifts, learn about safe operation practices, and prevent accidents in their workplace. Operating a forklift can be challenging, and operators need to know all the factors involved in finding the balance for safe use. The ideal training program should focus on operating each lift truck device in your business and essential safety information.

The first step in achieving efficiency through forklift operator training is to choose which type of class is right for you, including online or classroom courses.

  1. Classroom Forklift Training Classes: Classroom courses are conducted by a training provider at a location outside your workplace. These courses typically last 3-5 hours and cover essential topics.
  1. Online Forklift Training: Online courses consist of online training videos and post-tests. The online courses require a minimum of 10 hours of training, and the post-test exam can take up to 2 weeks to fill out, depending on the class. Most online schools aim to provide a convenient, cost-effective way to get forklift training. They typically have a limited number of classes, and the classes are offered at different times depending on enrollment. A benefit to attending an in-person course over an online class is that you will not have difficulty finding one near you. The instructor can also answer any questions or concerns you may have.

One of the critical differences between in-person and online forklift safety training is the teacher. The in-person class will offer a trained trainer who has experience teaching employees how to safely use and operate equipment like forklifts. Online courses do not have a teacher; students must rely on Internet videos and information provided by an outside source as their only training source.

Another important factor when choosing your forklift operator training is determining what level of training you need, ranging from fundamental to advanced operations. Generally, most schools have three levels of forklift operator training: basic, intermediate, and advanced.

  1. Basic Forklift Operator Training: Basic training is the most basic of all levels, focusing on the safe operation of a forklift, load securement, and maneuvering.
  1. Intermediate Forklift Operator Training: Intermediate training includes advanced maneuvers, counterbalance trucks, and forklifts equipped with powered industrial trucks (PITs). PITs are vehicle units that are added to forklifts to increase lifting capacity. PIT training can be thought of as an add-on to basic training. To be fully trained on PITs, employees must take additional specialized courses (for example, Forklift Truck Equipped with Powered Industrial Truck [PIT] Steps for Safe Operation) for more information about essential and intermediate operator training).
  1. Advanced Forklift Operator Training: Advanced training focuses on more advanced and specialized forklifts, including electric truck operation, pallet trucks, rough terrain forklifts, and more. This course can take anywhere from 3–5 days to complete and covers many different aspects of operating the type of equipment that various companies use. Students are taught how to inspect lift trucks before using them, recognize potential hazards in their workplace, and have safe operating practices.

Work-related accidents can cause fatal injuries, and forklift operators risk becoming victims of such accidents. Therefore, employers must implement safety measures to prevent these accidents and protect employees in the workplace. In addition, workers should be conscious of avoiding these situations by learning safety rules allowing them to operate forklifts correctly.

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