In a factory or warehouses, being a forklift (hi-lo) driver is a privilege. It keeps you from being secluded to a particular workstation, which if you have ever worked in a place where that is a possibility like working on the line in a factory, you know that it can become extremely boring and monotonous.
Having the up-graded status of a forklift driver will not only net you some extra pay, but it will also hand you some freedom with-in the workplace. But it’s not a job to be taken lightly. It’s dangerous, mainly to other people and the privilege can be ripped away from you just as face as it is given.
I spent many years working in a factory, some of which were driving forklifts. Here are my 5 tips to keep in mind to help make your position of forklift driving easier for you and safe for others.
Honk Your Horn
Factories are loud and not everyone can hear a forklift coming around the corner or even driving right behind them. Make sure to consistently let everyone know in the factory where you are at by honking you horn all the time. It may annoy people, but it keeps them safe. Most forklifts have as much torque and are as heavy as a small car, and they can do a lot of damage to one or as many individuals in its path. All it takes is one incident, no questions asked, you will be put back to your old position if not given your walking papers.
Pay Attention Where You Park Your Forks
This may not seem like something big, but it is. I can’t count how many times I’ve walked through the factory and had to step over a parked forklifts forks and got tripped up or slipped. This may not be as big of an offensive as say hitting someone or something, but it still can get you a warning or worse, especially if it’s the supervisor who trips over it. Just make sure when you park your forklift, your forks are out of the walking path of others and or driving path of other forklifts. The majority of the forklift, people can see a mile away, but the forks can blend right in.
Never Pick-Up Something Your Not Sure Of
If something looks like it might fall apart or spill and damage product, don’t risk it. Always alert your supervisor of something you are not sure of, if he gives you the “okay”, you know you have covered your butt. But one sure way to lose you forklift privileges is to alert your supervisor after product is damaged or destroyed.
Keep Your Distractions Limited
Headphones are a big no-no. You want to be able to hear everything that is going on around you. Snacks and coffee may seem like a good ideal, but it can distract you just enough for something bad to happen. Cell phones are another no-no. A sure way to lose your privileges is by getting caught by talking on the phone. Liquids are okay as long as they have a screw on top so you are not worried about them spilling when going around corners or when hitting bumps. The best practice for forklift driving is wait until you are completely stopped, on a break, or there is a break in the action to text, snack and have a coffee.
Wear Proper Attire
This is something you do for yourself if you want to succeed. If you are going to be riding a stand-up forklift, footwear is crucial, even more so than standing on the line all day. Every bump sends a jolt to your feet, and with no shocks or cushions, you need good footwear to survive. If you are going to be on a sit-down forklift, you probably won’t have to worry to much about the bumps, but you will have to wear something that is comfortable to sit in and that allows you to get on and off as much as needed. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but if you have to jump off the forklift and climb back on it 15 times in an hour, it get’s stressful, especially if you are an older or bigger person. Jeans and shirts that can restrict movement may not be your friend.
If you want to move up a position on the shop floor and feel a little less restricted at the work place by nabbing a forklift job or maybe you already have one and want to keep it. These five practices should be taken very seriously. It doesn’t take much to get those privileges revoked, for good reason, it’s a dangerous job and should be treated like that.