How-To Forklift Articles Archives

Construction Skills: Resources for Apprentices

What is a Construction Apprentice?

Flickr - Official U.S. Navy Imagery - Seabees work on school in Djibouti.

A construction apprentice is a novice construction worker who is learning the trade. He takes a number of courses to learn the skills required while also working under the supervision of a master construction worker to gain practical experience. Apprentices are usually young—most start directly out of high school at age 18, although some may be older. Most apprentice programs require applicants to have a high school diploma or GED certificate. A worker is usually an apprentice for three to five years, depending on their skill and education.

Apprentices learn a number of different skills, including proper tool use, construction methods, and safety. In the classroom, they study different types of construction and learn the theory behind the different methods. Most apprentice programs offer employment opportunity assistance, and many apprentices are hired full-time by the company they did their training under.

Construction Schools

Portland Building Blueprints

Those who are interested in becoming a construction apprentice will need to find a trade school that offers a program in construction and building. These programs will provide apprentices with a solid foundation in the theory and methods of construction. While the coursework generally doesn’t include practical skills (those are gained through the on-the-job training portion of an apprenticeship), students do learn things such as the math behind construction, how to read and create blueprints, and what it takes to be a construction manager or independent contractor.

Many construction schools require students to take at least one course that focuses solely on safety on the construction site. This is an extremely important part of an apprentice’s training since safety is of the utmost importance.

Machinery Schools

Docker on forklift

In addition to construction schools, most construction apprentices will need to go to machinery school. In fact, they may need to attend several different certification programs to gain all of the skills and certifications they need. Many machinery programs do include many of these skills and offer various certifications, however, especially those offered by trade schools and colleges.

Machinery schools will teach apprentices all of the basics needed for operating and maintaining equipment such as forklifts and flatbed trucks. Some may touch on how to make minor repairs to equipment, too. Like construction programs, machinery education also stresses safety. Courses such as forklift operation and safety guarantee that apprentices learn how to operate vehicles and machinery in such a way as to not injure themselves or others.

Resources for Employers Looking for Apprentices

Chemrec 5 - small

Many employers like to hire apprentices for several reasons. First, it provides them with fairly cheap labor. Apprentices do get paid for their practical apprenticeships (if an apprenticeship is not offered paid, he or she should be very leery about taking the job), but they don’t get paid as much as a licensed worker who has several certifications. Taking on apprenticeships allows the employer to form a working relationship with trade schools. This often results in the trade school sending the employer a number of apprentices on a regular basis. The trade school then has a reliable construction company with which to place their apprentices, while the employer can rely on having a number of apprentices to put to work. Everyone benefits.

In addition to reaching out to trade schools, employers can find apprentices through several different methods. Some advertise in their city newspapers or online. Others put the word out that they’re looking to hire new apprentices. Often, word of mouth works surprisingly well. However, it can be unreliable, so many employers turn to resources such as the following.


Post by Intella Liftparts

Avoiding Common Forklift Hazards

Forklifts transformed the shipping and storage industry. Without them, the process of moving large amounts of heavy products would take much, much longer and many more people. However, even though they are an absolute necessity to the warehouse and shipping industries, forklifts are also dangerous vehicles. There are a number of hazards that are associated with forklifts, and if you aren’t careful, you can easily injure yourself and others while driving one. Here are some of the common hazards associated with forklifts and some ways of avoiding them.

Vehicle Transportation Trailer

Why Forklifts can be Dangerous

Forklifts can be dangerous for many of the same reasons that any vehicle can be dangerous. When driving one, it goes from being a stationary object to a mobile block of heavy metal. If the driver isn’t paying attention, it’s easy to hit someone with the forklift, and while the vehicle may not be moving as fast as a car, it’s still going to hurt and can be fatal. Forklifts can move deceptively fast for their size and weight, especially when they have no load.

Another issue is that forklifts are so heavy that even an impact at slow speeds can be dangerous. What might stop other vehicles may not stop the momentum of the heavy forklift, which means it can cause much more damage than you may think. The long forks in the front are also very dangerous, and beginner forklift drivers often don’t realize exactly how far they stick out.

Common Hazards

Vehicle Transportation Trailer

There are a host of common hazards that forklift operators need to be aware of. These hazards can lead to a number of accidents, most of which are caused by carelessness.

Visibility is a major issue with forklifts. When carrying large loads on the forks, it can be very difficult for drivers to see what’s in front of them.

Improperly loading the forklift is another common issue that can lead to injury and damage. If the forklift isn’t loaded evenly, it’s very easy for the center of gravity to move too far forward, backwards, or to one side. Then the forklift becomes unbalanced and can tip forward or to the side.

While regulations do outline when forklifts are to be inspected and undergo maintenance, this doesn’t always happen due to negligence, lack of time, or some other reason. This can lead to a forklift parts breaking or malfunctioning in the middle of being used, which can cause the load to fall or be abruptly lowered.

One common hazard that has nothing to do with the forklift itself is improper surfacing or maintenance of such surfaces. A forklift with a heavy load cannot move up or down steep ramps without danger. Ramps that aren’t secured, sturdy, or in good condition may move or collapse under the weight of the forklift, leading to injury and damage.

Older forklifts that have had major issues or have begun showing their age should be retired. Continuing to use these older vehicles can lead to malfunctions in the middle of moving a load.

How to Avoid or Preempt these Common Hazards

There are several things operators and supervisors can do to help reduce the chances of these common hazards occurring. The first is proper training and adherence to training and regulations. Operators need to follow all precautions when driving, especially if they know they are in an area that sees a good amount of foot traffic. The same is true when backing up and when making turns or cornering. Forklift seat belts should be worn at all times, mirrors should always be used when backing up, etc.

Forklifts and all
all forklift parts
need to be checked over, maintained, and, if necessary, replaced or repaired on a regular schedule. There should be no reason to skip an inspection or maintenance cycle.

Forklifts should never be moved without first making certain that the load is balanced and secure. If the load ever starts to shift, the forklift should be stopped immediately.

No one who has not been trained and certified to operate a forklift should ever be allowed to drive one, even if it’s just to move the vehicle from one place to another without a load on it. Certified operators are the only ones who should ever be in the forklift seat.

Older forklifts or forklifts that have been malfunctioning should never be used. They should be repaired whenever possible or replaced when they can no longer be fixed.

Training and Safety Information

All forklift operators need to have been certified in the operation and maintenance of forklifts. However, a large number of forklift operators do not actually have the training needed to drive the vehicles. In fact, allowing untrained operators to drive a forklift is a very common OSHA violation.

In order to be eligible to drive a forklift, a person must be at least 18 years old and must have completed a certification program. Their employer also has to give them authorization to operate the vehicle. There are a number of different training and certification programs around the nation that employees can enroll in. However, it’s important for operators to be trained on the specific type of forklift they will be operating and not assume that they can drive any forklift just because they’ve been certified.

The following are three training courses that operators may want to look into:

  • IVES Training Group – This group will work with employers to do an in-house training for forklift operators.
  • ProLogistix Certification Services – A professional training company that also helps place operators with employers.
  • Crane Institute of America – They offer a train-the-trainer course in which employers can learn how to train their own employees and become a certified forklift operator trainer.

Conclusion

Forklifts are absolutely vital in many industries, but it’s always important to remember that they are heavy equipment and can be dangerous. With the right training, attention, and caution, however, they can safely be used without incident.


Post by Intella Liftparts