Waco Adobe Stock photo forklift safety

(WACO, Texas) – Some students at Texas State Technical College get to learn about forklifts through inspections and hands-on experience.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration sets standards for the use of forklifts. Workers under 18 years of age in nonagricultural employment cannot legally operate forklifts, according to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

Jason Morrow, an instructor in TSTC’s Occupational Safety and Environmental Compliance program at the Waco campus, said students receive a general introduction to how forklifts work and what problems to look for. 

Morrow said forklifts need to be inspected at the start of every work shift. People operating them and those doing inspections need to know how forklifts function. 

“Anytime you are on a forklift, you need to treat it like driving a commercial vehicle and pay attention to the task you are doing,” Morrow said. 

Forklift drivers and inspectors also need to be aware of the equipment’s load rating.

“There is a little math involved in carrying loads,” Morrow said. 

Morrow said people should be aware of what the forklift uses to operate, whether it is battery, electric, gasoline or propane. He said personal protection equipment is important, with drivers needing to wear a hard hat, safety glasses, and gloves when fueling. He said a face shield is needed when dealing with a propane tank.

Morrow said some common mistakes that people make when using forklifts include jumping off of them if they start to tip over. 

“Always have the seat belt on, cradle the steering wheel, fall with the forklift, and protect the arms and legs,” he said. “Forklifts are like race cars in that they have a roll cage, and that roll cage is to protect you from loads falling on you and the impact with the ground.”

Morrow said any problems that arise on the equipment need to be designated for maintenance. 

Adam Barber, executive director of Workforce Training at TSTC’s Marshall and North Texas locations and Waco campus, said noncredit forklift certification classes are offered throughout the year for companies to send staff to or for individuals who want to learn. The training lasts for eight hours and can be done in a day. Training can be done on-site at a company or at a TSTC campus. Starting in 2025, training can also be done at TSTC’s workforce training center, The WorkSITE, on Wycon Drive in Waco.

“If you have someone looking for a new career, oftentimes forklift operation is one of those positions,” Barber said. “It (the forklift certification) gives them a leg up in pursuing those job opportunities.”

TSTC recognizes National Forklift Safety Day, which this year is on Tuesday, June 11.

For more information on TSTC, go to tstc.edu. 


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