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Counterbalance Forklift Training Guide

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Intro to what a counterbalance forklift is

Forklifts are used to help ease facilitation of many different types of activities within businesses, warehouses, manufacturing facilities and other types of work environments. There are many different types of forklifts including fuel cell forklifts, telescopic handling forklifts, electric forklifts, and more. While the cost of these machines is not cheap, their use for work-related purposes is necessary and extremely beneficial. And, considering their importance and the fact they are heavy machinery, training for operational purposes is not taken lightly.

This article is going to focus primarily on counterbalance forklift training. These specific machines are designed for narrow work spaces and are flexible, hence their nickname “Flexi trucks.” These forklifts can be designed as to accommodate standing operative control or sit down operative control. As far as the motor is concerned it can either be electric or the forklift can come equipped with an internal combustion engine. Of course when you’re purchasing one of these pieces of equipment for your business operations, you need to be aware of these different choices. Also, understand that the electric motors are more common than the internal combustion engines within these machines.

Example of a counterbalance forklift  at work

The engines to these machines also vary widely, as they can either be propane fueled, butane, natural gas, kerosene or gasoline powered engines. And, the four stroke spark ignition and four stroke compression ignition are most commonly used within these engines. However, replace the four with two and you have the two other common varieties of engine ignitions. Continental differences can make the emission systems vary, and some are even equipped with hybrid drive trains.

What counterbalance forklifts are used for and what is covered in your training

Now that you’re more familiar with exactly what a counterbalanced forklift really is, what operations are these specific forklifts often used to carry out? Since these types of forklifts are especially designed to maneuver around tight spaces, they not only perform normal operations like certain other comparable forklifts but also are able to fit in tight spaces like unloading and loading certain types of trucks or organizing inventory within a warehouse or manufacturing facility where space is tight. The importance of this feature cannot be undermined because safety is a priority in the workplace. You do not want your forklift operators running into other people or equipment within a facility. Accidents can certainly not be tolerated, and that is why these machines are designed to handle light to medium loads in those tight spaces.

Understand too that different facilities handle different types of loads. Modifications can be made to the forklifts to help them have a different capacity, but it must be understood that the weight capacity should never be ignored. This will be talked about more when the forklift training is discussed.

It is also important to understand that there are different variations of counterbalance forklifts, and certain types of these variations are going to be the ones that are most commonly seen within any workplace environment. Indeed, they are very popular, and it is also necessary for people to understand not only the operational requirements but the safety procedures involved with operating these machines. That is why counterbalance forklift training is extremely involved and important, consisting of both studying and understanding written material as well as demonstrating command of the machine in a testing environment.

Different types of counterbalance forklifts

Things to know before you do your counterbalance forklift training

When many people first start driving a forklift, they have to adjust to the rear wheel steering. They also have to understand the controls for the forks that protrude from the front of the machine. These forks are solid steel and designed to lift, lower and move any load from left to right as well. Not only will loads need to be moved in either of the four directions, but maneuvering the forks with the controls is essential to the balance as the forklift is in motion.

With the forklift being such a heavy piece of necessary machinery in many workplace environments, training is not open to discernment. There are rules, regulations and standards that must be upheld. Employers and employees alike must be understanding about these regulations, and they are provided by the Health and Safety Executive within the United Kingdom.

Not only must the forklift operator must be trained but must also be declared certified according the PUWER or Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations. However, the specifications of this training according to this regulatory organization are not exactly given, so it is up to other third party organizations to make sure the right training and practices are implemented when it comes to counterbalance forklift training.

Example of a counterbalance forklift  at work

While there are going to be accidents (read a prevoius article on how to survive forklift accidents), in no way is this anywhere close to being an accepted standard. And, as forklift operators are trained and certified, their training and certification must be revisited every three to five years. As you can imagine there could be new equipment, features and standards in place within those time frames.

There can be both on-site and off-site training, and the lengths of these training programs do vary. Generally, a beginning operator is going to undergo a five day course, and an operator who is taking a refresher course often completes this in one day. While a forklift operator does not need a degree to handle the job duties, the importance of their position as well as the heavy machinery and training and certification involved do provide them with an average salary starting around £14,500 and higher in London areas.

All in all, this is what you can expect as far as the machine you will operate, the training involved and salary that would come with your new position.

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