By Tom Reddon
Driving a forklift is no easy task. Maneuvering through some of the tight spaces found in factories and warehouses can be a nightmare. Forklift operators must have certain characteristics. When hiring a forklift driver, these are some defining attributes:
• Forklift experience: The obvious signature of any promising prospect is familiarity with the vehicle itself. Forklift operation requires skill and know-how. Experience is the best indicator in finding the right driver for the job.
• Previous warehouse or factory experience: Forklifts are a common breed found along the floors of plants worldwide. In many other instances, forklifts are also used in exterior operations to unload trucks that come in with deliveries or freighters going out with shipping orders. Any great candidate is integrated with the flow of factory operations and acclimated to an industrial environment. The best drivers have prepared pallets for a forklift driver or have unpacked unloaded pallets. Employees of this nature understand the ebb and flow of the floor and, thus would bring this experience to the role of a forklift driver.
• Commercial driver license: A forklift is a heavy piece of machinery. For all drivers who wish to get behind the wheel of a heavy vehicle, they are required to apply for and maintain a commercial driver license. Some of the best forklift drivers could be people that regularly hit the gas on a box truck or eighteen-wheeler. What is the correlation? Commercial drivers efficiently and safely operate large vehicles daily. Furthermore, they are held to a high standard and commissioned to a superior level of conduct. Additionally, they are accustomed to the cumbersome ways of heavy machinery. Any holder of a commercial driver license is cognizant of the hazards this equipment can bring and face. Potentially, any CDL holder can be the best candidate for a forklift driving position.
• Committed to safety: While you will not be able to find this information on a resume, service records could showcase a potential operator's commitment to safety. In reference checks, previous employers would be excited to share the exceptional performance of the prospective employee. With this being mentioned, safety is truly paramount when using a forklift. The consequences of negligence or reckless engagement could result in injury or death. A driver who is committed to safety can ensure that accidents will be avoided at all costs. Lastly, a driver who is committed to safety assures you that you have a responsible operator behind the wheel. The driver will not take too many risks or gamble at the expense of the welfare of others. In summation, an already potentially dangerous environment has one less possible pitfall.
• Detail oriented: A great forklift driver pays attention to detail. This is absolutely essential. This characteristic provides safety to the team and can also expedite assignments. A good forklift driver knows how much stock he needs and how long it will take him to get it where it needs to be. These assessments come from an individual who refines his focus on the smallest of details.
So what does it take to be a good forklift driver? Experience is always a plus. Having the credentials and background is even more of a benefit. However, any individual that is committed to safety and is detail oriented could also be a great candidate. Ultimately, it boils down to dedicating one's self to mastering the craft. This of course, comes from learning as much as doing. With these attributes and attitudes, any organization can hire the perfect forklift operator.
Tom Reddon is a forklift specialist and blog manager for the National Forklift Exchange
. He also sits on the Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association (MHEDA) Executive Dialogue team. Follow him on Twitter at @TomReddon