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How to safely deliver practical lift truck training following Covid-19

Blogs | 14th Jul 2020

At the RTITB Instructor Academy, we are now completely open following the peak in England of the Covid-19 pandemic with safety measures in place so that we can safely deliver Lift Truck Instructor training.

Whether you’re a commercial lift truck instructor or part of an in-house training team, here is some helpful advice on how you can reduce infection risk for your candidates if you plan to resume in-person lift truck training.

First, assess the risk

The risk of infection may differ between different organisations and training environments. Therefore, before you re-start any forklift training, it is essential to conduct and record thorough risk assessments. This not only protects the individuals involved but is also essential for compliance and demonstrating you have taken steps to keep people safe.

A risk assessment should consider: What is the risk of catching or spreading Covid-19? Who might be harmed? What you will do/are doing to reduce the risk of spreading/catching Covid-19? As part of the process, you should ask your Instructors for input, suggestions, and recommendations and after the risk assessment is conducted, share the findings with your workforce and customers (if applicable).

The situation around Covid-19 continues to evolve, so your risk assessment should be revisited and updated as guidance changes, and as you learn from experience. Importantly, even though you have measured the risks, Instructors (and trainees) should be empowered to stop training if they feel the risk controls are not being correctly adhered to.

Cleaning, handwashing, and hygiene

These processes should be considered as part of your risk assessment, and again will differ between operations. However, as broad guidance, things to think about could include:

  • Can candidates attend the training without travelling on public transport?
  • Is it possible to ensure that everyone washes their hands with soap and water on arrival?
  • Can each trainee receive a small bottle of hand sanitiser for personal use? Or can hand sanitisation stations be set up throughout the training area?
  • Do you have face coverings, masks, or shields available to wear where applicable? And have you checked they are CE marked to confirm their quality?
  • Can the Instructor use a different truck to the candidates?
  • How will you go about sanitising all areas of the lift truck that have been touched by hands regularly during the day and before a new person will operate the truck?
  • In regard to breaks, could you ask candidates and Instructors to bring their own lunch, so they do not leave the premises during the day? And do you have disposable cups to use?
  • Would seat covers be useful? Such as for trucks with fabric seats that cannot be wiped down effectively

As well as providing PPE as needed, all items used for cleaning and protective equipment should be placed in a sealed bag for 72 hours prior to disposal with normal waste.

Social distancing

Although the guidance is evolving to “1 metre +”, at the time of writing, a 2-metre distance is still recommended where possible. So, you must carefully consider how many people you can safely have in the training area, as well as in classrooms and the refreshment area. If a 2 metre distance is not observed (or even if it is), other safety measures to reduce risk can include the use of approved visors and face coverings, limiting contact time to 15 minutes, and operating in a well ventilated area. You should also train side by side, not face to face.

One way to reduce interpersonal contact time, is of course to try and deliver theory training and testing remotely and limit contact to essential practical training.

Safely recommission lift trucks

The chances are that your lift trucks have been out of action for some time, and this poses a different set of safety considerations for practical training. Prior to conducting any training, you must ensure that your equipment is fit for purpose.

Any lift truck maintenance must be conducted as per required schedules, a thorough pre-use inspection must be conducted and recorded, and the manufacturers handbook should be consulted for recommissioning advice.

You should also check that the facilities for training are being maintained within the required date scope, including racking systems inspections, fire extinguishers and eyewash bottles.

Let’s go outside?

As we know from the wider easing of lockdown measures, being outside reduces infection risk. So, could you deliver your training outside instead of in a warehouse or training centre environment?

Outdoor training generally will require a concrete surface which is level, flat and unbroken, though if the truck has pneumatic tyres, you could train on a tarmac or unmade surface. The truck weight also needs to be considered, as well as any obstructions outdoors, such as power lines overhead. Of course, the weather will affect your ability to train outside – very hot or wet conditions should be avoided. For safety, you will also need to ensure the area is restricted, both for being Covid-secure and in terms of general workplace transport safety.

Also, when planning in-person practical training following safety guidelines, you should ensure that you consider time – be prepared to extend your training times as things will likely take longer.

Consider specific equipment risks

If you are delivering training on other types of materials handling equipment (not just counterbalance lift trucks), there are other factors you will need to consider. For instance, with Very Narrow Aisle (VNA) trucks (also referred to as man up/man down) or High-Level Order Pickers, do you have a process in place for safe retrieval of an operator at height? How can this process take into account reducing infection risk?

If you can’t be close to an operator working at height, could you use a video camera or a 2-way walkie talkie system to monitor and issue instruction to a trainee operator? This applies equally with equipment such as MEWPs (Mobile Elevating Work Platforms).

Safe Lift Truck Instructor Courses

The RTITB Instructor Academy is now taking bookings for Lift Truck Instructor courses for a maximum of 4 delegates to support safety. Get in touch with the team now to book your course requirements. You can also read our candidate safety instructions and risk assessments here.