Compliant lift truck training
03 November 2022
RTITB managing director Laura Nelson asks what does compliant lift truck training look like in a digital world?
WAREHOUSE AND logistics operations continue to struggle with a shortage of correctly trained and qualified staff. The world is changing. As are the requirements of organisations and their people. It is time to evolve as an industry, to attract new blood, while retaining existing talent. We believe digitalisation in training and compliance is key.
What hasn’t changed, is an employer’s legal duty to ensure lift truck operations are conducted safely. A serious incident could result in life-changing injury or death. Without proof of compliance, businesses risk further implications including legal action, fines, and irreparable reputation damage.
The compliant lift truck training journey begins with quality training for new operators. It must be accessible and engaging for all. In this digital and post-Covid age, candidates increasingly expect eLearning solutions, which is possible for the theory element.
For novice counterbalance and reach truck operators, RTITB has taken eLearning a step further with a unique digital training tool where candidates learn by following a story that tackles real-life safety issues.
Designed to create real behaviour change, the award-winning eTruck UK employs proven methods to help learners better retain information. It enables candidates to effectively complete forklift and reach truck theory training entirely online, using a computer or tablet, in the workplace or at home.
An eLibrary, accessible via a secure, online, password-protected portal, is available to support RTITB accredited partners delivering training. It covers Novice, Refresher, Conversion, and Existing operator training. Included are training materials such as Instructor Guides, PowerPoint Presentation, mock and theory papers, safety codes, and more.
For the practical training (and theory where required), a well-trained Instructor continues to be essential, but they are in short supply. Today, due to a shortage of lift truck Instructors and changing business strategies, many operations managers are opting to reskill or upskill staff to deliver operator training in-house. This enables operator training to be scheduled and delivered quicker, and gives a greater element of control.
Having trained Instructors in-house helps operations with safety and compliance. It also supports career progression and encourages employee engagement, contributing to attracting and retaining staff for longer.
Regular refresher training is key to safety and compliance. eLearning tools such as eTruck Refresher can be used to deliver refresher training, quickly and easily. This benefits critical warehouse and logistics operations that are extremely busy and often understaffed. For example, three refresher candidates can be trained in the time it usually takes to train one.
Cross-skilling a trained lift truck operator facilitates career progression, with training on other machine types, such as reach trucks, VNAs, and order pickers. Conversion training helps fill skills gaps, and adds variety to their position, supporting loyalty to their employer and the industry.
New Lift Truck Instructor course on its way
RTITB is in the process of developing a new Lift Truck Instructor course, modernising the content and approach to benefit and accommodate the multiple generations now in the workplace.
Offering flexibility and support in self-paced learning, a flipped classroom approach will be used for some elements of the course. This means allowing candidates to study at home, and use classroom time for further discussion or Q&A.
There will be a greater focus on ensuring candidates can instruct confidently, not just learning to pass the exam. One way is to be less prescriptive about what is expected in the role-play practical examination. Rather than stipulating the lesson objective and giving specifics about what to cover, a simple lesson title will be allocated. The candidate will then develop the full lesson including the objective and content.
To help candidates gain better marks, a short, professional discussion element will be added, to take place after the role-play practical lesson delivery. The examiner will ask questions about any missed elements or items that need clarification from the practical exam. This will demonstrate whether the candidate was lacking knowledge, or simply missed the content due to nerves.
To alleviate undue pressure and nerves for candidates on the final examination day, one part of the examination will be conducted in a classroom-based lesson, during the course. Furthermore, the theory test will be done online via RTITB’s learning management system. Currently, the results of the course fall entirely on the final examination. This change gives candidates a chance to secure results in two elements ahead of that, to reduce the pressure on the final day, and build confidence in the candidate.
The pros and cons of eLearning will also be covered in course content.
Operator testing and record keeping is also changing. For example, the MyRTITB TrainingFriend App, available to RTITB accredited partners, provides a fast, secure way to record compliant lift truck operator training.
Using the App can make lift truck operator testing and administration 100% paperless, and significantly reduces training administration time. It also supports refresher training, through accurate record-keeping and central reporting.
Managers can use NORS (RTITB’s National Operator Registration Scheme) to keep track of when refresher training is due. This is vital for compliance, to avoid lapses in training.
Even when training can be delivered faster online, the standard wait time for the candidate to receive their certificate once training is complete, can take up to 10 days. That’s a potential 10 days that the skilled, trained operator is unable to work.
For each of the 26,286 certificates issued between August and November last year, for example, a ten-day wait time would equate to a possible 262,860 lost working days. With the RTITB eCard, candidates receive their Operator ID and certificate online, in just four hours, seven days a week.
Although Managers and Supervisors do not require full lift truck operator training, they must be able to recognise safe and unsafe practices, and understand potential risks and how to avoid them. An interactive eLearning course (‘Managing and Supervising Material Handling Equipment Operations’), can be used by those embarking on their first lift truck operations management role, and by long-time employees looking to progress their careers. It also helps Health and Safety Managers or Warehouse Managers with wider roles and responsibilities.
Compliance through accreditation
In high pressure environments in a busy industry, where operations are battling with staff shortages and labour is a concern, flexibility and reliability are required to manage the day-to-day. Accreditation with RTITB supports organisations’ management, training, and compliance.
RTITB offers a range of solutions including an online portal to easily manage operator and Instructor training. The portal contains useful items, including its upload database, downloadable forms and resources to help with training and registration uploads, the training materials eLibrary, and a marketing toolkit.
Managers can improve operational safety, compliance, and efficiency through the RTITB Workplace Transport Operations HealthCheck. Clear guidance is given following the one-day audit, on how to make changes to help protect staff and improve efficiency.
New QA and auditing system
A project is underway to re-design and streamline RTITB’s auditing processes. The aim is to save customers time and give them more flexibility and control over their audits.
This project includes a new, web-based portal, which will allow our customers to freely upload relevant documentation for RTITB review as and when required. We’re planning to create a system that allows effective audits of our customers, whilst reducing the disruption to their day-to-day business.