Everyone knows what a forklift is, whether they’ve seen one in real life or not. But, have you ever wondered what a forklift operator actually does? If so, you’re not alone.
Forklift operators do exactly what their name says: operate a forklift. While this might seem simple, there’s actually more to it than you think.
Let’s take a look at the job description and tasks of a forklift operator and the steps you must take to become one.
What Do Forklift Operators Do?
Forklift operators drive forklifts around in order to move large and heavy objects. You can find forklift drivers anywhere, from warehouses, storage yards and factories to construction sites, airports, and shipping yards.
Forklifts are able to move large, heavy objects because they use a hydraulic lifting mechanism. So, if there’s something heavy that needs to be moved, chances are a forklift will be needed.
Although it might seem easy to sit in a forklift all day and drive around, it’s repetitive work that can sometimes be boring. Apart from being repetitive, being a forklift operator often involves heavy lifting as well.
Some things can’t be lifted by a forklift, or need to be adjusted before being lifted. Therefore, you might need to carry heavy objects. Forklift drivers should be physically fit and capable of manual lifting.
Is Being a Forklift Driver Safe?
Being a forklift operator is considered “hazardous”. This is mostly due to the fact that you’re operating large machinery. With any large machinery or vehicle, accidents can happen.
If there are many forklifts being operated at the same time, collisions can occur. This can be avoided with safe operating practices and being aware of your surroundings.
Forklift operators need to take notice of what, and who is around them at all times. This vigilance will keep you, your inventory, and your coworkers, safe.
Other risks of being a forklift operator include working in extreme temperatures and in extreme conditions. You may be working outside in a construction zone, so the weather can affect your health and wellbeing.
When working indoors, you may be exposed to hazardous fumes, harmful chemicals, loud noises, or intense odors. Apart from this exposure, the hours might also affect your health.
Many forklift drivers work long shifts of over 8 hours. Often, these shifts can be after hours, especially if you’re working in a 24-hour warehouse. These rotating rosters may affect your sleep cycle and your overall health.
How Much Do Forklift Operators Make?
Forklift drivers are paid depending on their age and skill level. Apprentices and trainees are typically paid minimum wage, with some companies paying overtime rates for overnight shifts.
As experience increases, so too does pay. The average forklift driver is paid $15 per hour, however, this can be significantly higher or lower. This may not seem like much, but it is worth it for those who enjoy the work.
Why Become a Forklift Operator?
One of the main reasons people become forklift drivers is because you don’t need much training to start off. For someone who doesn’t want to spend four years in college, forklift operation is a great job to consider.
Most jobs with low training requirements don’t pay much, so the average rates for forklift driving make it a decent career choice.
Another reason people choose forklift operation is because of the availability of jobs. Many industries have been suffering from budget cuts and high unemployment rates, so the availability of forklift driving roles is appealing to many.
With more experience comes more opportunity. If you’re a talented and experienced driver, you can move into other higher-paying positions. You can become a supervisor, trainer, or even a warehouse manager.
How Do You Become a Forklift Operator?
Many forklift operator jobs require you to be at least 18, but this isn’t always the case. Some companies may accept younger workers as trainees or apprentices.
Some companies also require that you are certified to comply with the rules of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). The easiest way to gain this certification is with online forklift certification.
Online forklift certification is extremely quick and relatively cheap. Luckily, there are many online certifications, so you can shop around for one that best suits you.
Forklift operators are extremely valuable to today’s society and will be required for many years to come. Whether this is the career choice for you depends on the person you are, and what you enjoy.