The need to send employees for forklift training is not only driven by its potential to reduce costs and injury, but is an important legal requirement, too.

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 85 of 1993, Driven Machinery Regulations 18 (11):

• Working environments have to be free of any hazards. The operation of forklifts falls under this.
• All lifting machinery or equipment operators must be trained by accredited providers regardless of the capacity of the equipment.

What does this mean?
According to Eugene Herbert, managing director of MasterDrive, employees need to be well -informed about forklift operation. “You may not instruct any employee to operate a forklift if they have not been trained and found to be competent by an accredited training provider. It is your responsibility to ensure forklift operators have a valid license. If not, they must ensure drivers receive the correct training,” he says.

What if I do not follow legislation?
It is important to remember the law is meant to protect both employer and employee and you need to do your part to comply. “You can be prosecuted if something goes wrong and the Department of Labour finds that your employees do not have the correct licenses to operate lifting equipment,” he warns.

What is the next step?
Find a provider of forklift training who has the correct accreditation. “If you undertake training with a provider who does not have the necessary accreditation you could still be found in contravention of the law,” explains Herbert.

What accreditation should a trainer have?
Trainers can be in-house or from an equipment supplier. They need accreditation from the South African Qualification Authority and deliver training programmes that have been approved by the National Qualifications Framework. Trainers must have approval from the Chief Inspector in terms of the Driven Machinery Regulations.

What are the benefits?
Besides regulatory compliance, your business stands to benefit in a number of ways:

• Reduced wear and tear on forklifts
• Reduce costs as a result of fewer accidents and damage to goods
• Better performance from forklift machines
• Improved productivity
• Greater professionalism