Logistics & Materials Handling Blog

Important Forklift Operator Skills

by Paul Hinz
Filed under: Forklifts

As the global e-commerce industry continues to rapidly grow, warehouses and bulk shipping centers such as ports are becoming even more integral for companies to meet growing customer demands.

For a warehouse to be operated successfully they rely on a dedicated team of forklift and materials handling equipment operators to safely and efficiently transport and distribute goods.

This week’s post briefly examines six important skills all forklift operators should possess.

1. Quick Thinking and Adaptability

Throughout a shift forklift operators may be exposed to a wide variety of load types and tasks they must complete.

Warehouses are also very dynamic work environments with a variety of moving parts including other forklifts, pedestrians and delivery trucks that will need to be safely manoeuvred around.

Forklift operators need to be able to quickly adapt to changes to complete tasks whilst maintaining safety and efficiency.

Forklift operator skills quick thinking & adaptability

2. Extensive Training and Unit Understanding

It is imperative that all forklift operators have undergone extensive training to obtain the correct licences and certifications to operate a forklift safely.

Operators need extensive training on how to precisely manoeuvre forklifts in a safe manner whilst avoiding obstacles such as pallet racking or other employees.

They also need an extensive understanding of how their forklift runs so they can respond and troubleshoot any problems that may occur during a shift.

Forklift operator skills forklift training and licensing

3. Great Communication Skills

All forklift operators need to be able to communicate succinctly with others working around them in warehouses to ensure everyone stays safe.

They need to be able to explain what they’re doing and what others involved in lifting operations are required to do.

Miscommunication could prove costly with a heightened chance of injury, loss or fatality if a mistake is made during operations.

4. Patience

Operating a fully loaded forklift requires operators to have high levels of patience.

Large and heavy loads need to stay balanced and secured during lifting operations with fast abrupt movements likely to disrupt the balance of a load increasing the risk that it can destabilise the load and potentially tip the forklift over.

Patience is also a necessity when operating a forklift in a busy warehouse, operators may need to wait for other forklifts or employees working in the surrounding areas to complete work before it is safe for them to proceed.

Forklift operator skills patience to maintain load balance

5. Eye for Safety

Due to the large size and heavy weight of a fully loaded forklift it is imperative that operators have a keen eye for safety.

One false move could result in serious injury, fatality or damage to stock, racking or the forklift itself.

All forklift operators need to be aware of potential forklift hazards so they can rectified as soon as possible.

6. Basic Math Skills

A basic understanding of maths is imperative for all forklift operators to possess.

Operators need to quickly calculate overall load weights to ensure compliance with the unit maximum rated capacity.

They may also be required to calculate other costs such as freight costs.

Yale forklift rating plate

Finding the right forklift operator for your operation can be a challenge.

It is important when interviewing potential operators companies look for those who possess the important skills outlined in this post.

By employing the most highly skilled and experienced operators you ensure the safety and efficiency of your materials handling operations.