How to make the most of your forklift truck driving experience and license?

How to make the most of your forklift truck driving experience and license?

Did you know that your license is not transferable between machines? 

While many of the forklift truck driving skills and experiences you have picked up so far will be useful for different truck types, each one does have its own operational requirements that you need to know in order to operate the machinery safely. This means that you need to undergo training and certification for each different type of forklift truck that you use, you can’t simply switch from one type of truck to another.

If you need to start using a different type of truck than you are used to, you will need to undergo a conversion training course to get the right license. 

The most common forklift trucks used in warehouses are 

Counterbalance forklift

Extremely popular in many different types of environments including warehouses and storage depots. Has a reach of up to 20 feet and has a counterweight to balance the load on the fork arms. The fork arms and load project out from the front of the machine. Loads can be raised or lowered vertically, and the mast may be tilted forwards or backwards up to 15°.

Reach Truck

These trucks are used mostly in warehouses and where space is quite restricted. They are called Reach trucks because the mast is moved forwards or reached out to pick up the load. For travelling, the load is reached back and carried within the wheelbase which allows greater manoeuvrability. A height of 40 feet can be reached from this type of forklift.

Pedestrian Controlled Lift Truck

This has a limited lift height, usually not greater than two metres. It may be electrically or manually powered for lifting and for traction. The operator walks with the machine and controls it with a handle. These are usually used in warehouse environments for shifting stock on pallets.

A conversion course will usually last a day and costs between £100 and £200 depending on your training provider.

Choose the right training provider for you

It is important to make sure that your chosen training provider is accredited or part of a quality assurance scheme, this will ensure that you get a qualified and experienced instructor, are taught the correct information and that your qualification will be recognised and accepted by employers. 

It is not mandatory for training organisations to be part of an accreditation body or other quality assured scheme, but these schemes are intended to help set and maintain professional training standards and help employers and candidates select a training provider who offers a good standard of training. 

The accreditation bodies for forklift training are: 

When you are looking for a training course, any of these bodies would be able to provide you with a list of accredited training providers so you can be sure you are contacting a reputable company. 

Understand the course content and expected outcomes

A typical Counterbalance/Reach conversion course will cover the following content:

  • Introduction to course
  • Introduction to the fork truck, controls and instruments
  • Starting, moving, steering and stopping the fork truck
  • Steering
  • Hydraulic System
  • Pre-shift Inspection
  • Battery Care / Refuelling Procedures
  • Weight Assessment
  • Handling unladen and laden pallets
  • Driving on / off Ramps
  • Vehicle Loading and Unloading
  • Fork Truck Stability
  • Operators Safety Code
  • Testing
  • Course Closure

At the end of your course you should receive your certificate of completion and your license. 

You can never have too many qualifications so branching out and investing in your skills is an excellent way to steer your career, maximise your skills and set yourself up for success when you are looking for a new warehouse forklift truck driving job.