Several months ago we were introduced to a potential training customer by one of our forklift dealer partners. During our initial visit with this potential customer, we covered the usual topics, such as asking them what they were looking for, finding out what they had done in the past, how many people they wanted to train, what types of lifts they used, etc. At the end of the conversation I asked for a plant tour and was given one by the plant manager. During the survey it was obvious there was a serious problem, many of the lifts did not have seatbelts and those that did were clearly not being worn, ever. At the end of the tour I brought my concerns to the safety manager who agreed there was a problem and admitted they had never really thought much about it. She also made another comment “For years we have used an outside contractor to train our operators, why didn’t they ever bring this up?”
In too many cases, training companies may have the wrong motivation in supplying training. Although every business has a need to earn income, and to expect a reasonable profit, too many times too little value is given to the customer for the money they are paying. A few training shortcomings are listed below:
1) Generic training involving no instructor: Certain topics may be able to be covered successfully in an “instructorless environment” but not powered industrial truck training. In the U.S. OSHA requires “site and equipment specific training” and condemns the “one size fits all programs” but that does not mean they are not a dime a dozen, especially on the web. Do a search on the web and you’ll find many sites certifying forklift operators for low, low prices. There is a reason for those low prices, they bring little to no value and where relatively easy and cheap to create and maintain in most cases. Cheap and easy is great for many things, just not forklift training!
2) Training companies that don’t invest the time to look at their customers past history and what is currently occurring at the site: Most of the accidents I have seen didn’t involve a lack of knowledge, most were the result of continual bad habits, missing safety features or a general disregard for safe operation. These types of shortcomings are readily apparent when touring customer locations, but you’ll never find them if the only trips to the customer site you make are for sales calls and to conduct training. It takes time and money to correctly prepare for each customers training and to advise them on their particular shortcomings, many training companies today are simply unwilling to invest that time and money, which is too bad for the customers out there, since they are the ones that suffer when bad things happen.
And now the end of the story…. The safety manager approached top management about seat belt retrofits and enforcing seatbelt use and was shot down, she then asked me for more ammunition to make another appeal. Finally after numerous emails and calls to support her, she was able to convince the management team to make the needed changes. They are still planning on doing training at some point, but I know that if we had not rocked the boat on the belts it would have all been done by now. In the end, was it worth the risk of losing the account and the delay in securing their business – YOU BET IT WAS!
Written by Dan Smith of Forklift Training Systems, the industry leader in forklift training products and services.