Lift trucks or forklifts are industrial trucks that are used in a wide variety of industries to move heavy materials from one place to another. The workers who drive forklifts are generally called forklift operators. Being a forklift operator can be a steady job even in uncertain economic times because forklifts are used in so many industries, from warehousing to construction. If you are looking for a job as a forklift operator, you may be wondering what exactly are the job duties of a forklift operator.
Moving Industrial Materials
General forklift operator duties include using machinery to move heavy materials such as pallets of products, heavy boxes, construction materials and earth. Unlike commercial truck drivers, usually forklift operators move materials such as these over short distances such as around warehouses, factories or construction sites. Some forklift operators also move materials to and from hauling vehicles such as freight trucks or ships.
Operating a Forklift
One of the main forklift operator duties is driving the lift truck and raising and lowering the forks. Driving the lift truck is very similar to driving a car, tractor or other motorized vehicle. Like any other vehicle, the driver uses pedals to speed up and slow down and a steering wheel to control the direction of the forklift. The similarities end there. To operate the lift forks or other attachments on the machine, the forklift operator manipulates levers on either side of the steering wheel. Many forklifts also have arms on the front to manipulate loads or buckets behind the forklift to carry loads as well. There are certain driving techniques in place to ensure the safety of the equipment, the load, the forklift operator and other employees.
Other Forklift Operator Duties
There are other forklift operator duties that are not directly related to moving industrial materials. Forklift operators are also usually trained in setting up and inspecting lift equipment to make sure it is in good working condition. Operators may also be trained in making fine adjustments as well as performing regular maintenance and minor repairs on forklifts and other lift equipment. Forklift operators are also trained in safety equipment and the safety issues involved in using lift equipment.
Forklift Operator Training and Certification
While certification for forklift operators is not always required by law in many states, most employers feel more confident that they will have safe and efficient workers if their forklift operators are certified. Some companies may offer on-the-job training in operating lift equipment, forklift operator training courses are also available. Forklift training courses can be offered by technical schools, community colleges, industrial training facilities or by forklift training companies online. Forklift operator training courses generally involve training in how to use many different kinds of forklift equipment, forklift operator job duties, job safety training, and may include a licensing or certification exam. Advanced training is available in industrial truck maintenance and repair. A training program specifically for forklift operators will be more comprehensive and look better on a resume than training received from an employer.