Interview - Forklift Driver, female worker stepping onto the forklift

What is it like to be a Forklift Driver in a warehouse ?

What is it really like to work as a Forklift Truck Driver?  We spoke to one of our Forklift Drivers to find out more about the best and worst parts of the job.

Tell me about where you work and what you do.

I currently work in the warehouse at DHL as a forklift operator working the night shift.

When did you start?

I started in June 2019 but I did work here before for almost a year.

How do you work your shifts around your home life?

I have worked night shifts pretty much all of my life, so I am used to the shift pattern now and it works for me. I made the decision not to start a family, so I am able to sleep in the morning and have some free time through the day.

What does your job entail?

I generally work through stock replenishment, inbound emergency orders, moving items from upper shelves to lower shelves, and general stock rotation. I spend my whole time operating a forklift.

Did you already have your forklift license when you started the job or did you do it at work?

I had my license before I started working here but I was assessed by the employer when I started like you would be at all new places of work.

Why did you need to be assessed if you already had your license?

It is basically the same test that you do during training, but it is really just to demonstrate to the employer that you do have the skills required to work in that environment.

Do you like your job & why?

I do like it; I know that some people wouldn’t like it or see it as a good job, but it is a responsible job to do. It may seem like I just drive around all day, but people don’t see that you have to be focused because it can be a very dangerous job. I like to be focused, organised and proactive when I am at work and this is a really good job for that.

Why did you want to do this job?

There are not very many Forklift Drivers in the industry and it can be quite dangerous, you are at quite a high risk of injury so people tend to avoid the job but it is a great job and I was always drawn to being a female in a role that tends to be more male orientated.

What is the worst part of your job?

The risk to injury is probably the worst part, I mean it is not risky all of the time but you are at more risk than in a different role especially if the environment is not properly cared for.

I hear about boredom being a big factor in warehouse work, how do you cope with that?

I really don’t see it as boring at all, it depends on the place where you work. If you have to do the same job over and over it will always be boring no matter what the role is. But in my job I always have something to do and it is always different somehow.

There has been a lot in the press about bad working conditions in warehouses, what is your view on that?

Yes, I saw all of the news before too, but I have never experienced any of what they were saying, everywhere I have worked has been fine.

How do you cope with the physical aspects of your role?

It’s not really relevant in my role, it’s more physically demanding for the picking and packing operatives because they walk so far and lift things all of the time but I spend all of my time driving and operating machinery so I only need to be moderately fit to do it.

What would you change if you could?

We need more experienced people, particularly in my role to spread the work out a bit.

Most of all I would change the forklift training, its usually 3 days including the test, but the test can take up to 5 hours or more so 3rd day is really just the test. It does depend on how many instructors, trucks and candidates they have on hand, but two days is not enough to learn everything well enough to put it into practice at work comfortably.

Ideally it would be 3 days training and another one for testing. Some people really need that extra day to get comfortable with the techniques.

We really need more well trained forklift drivers working in warehouses so I hope more people train to get their license.

What are your top tips for other warehouse workers?

Always focus on the task in hand. Be organised, proactive and be aware of hazards, keeping in mind the weight of the load. Remember that everything you learn on your training is important.

What do you hope to achieve long term?

I want to achieve more than being an FLT driver, I was thinking I would maybe like to be an instructor or more of a team leader in the warehouse to help the new people starting.

What are your co-workers like?

They are all very nice people, it’s a good team, they come and help each other out. Night shifts generally have less people on, so the other shifts help us hit our targets if we are falling behind. The management really listen and help us with any problems we have.

How can you progress your career as a forklift driver?

You can build up other licenses for different types of machinery if you want to. If you want to be an instructor, you would need to have most of the other machinery licenses. As an alternative you could move into carrying out the assessments for new starters in your warehouse.

Would you recommend your job to a friend & why.

I would highly recommend my job, I love it. I know some people don’t like working nights but I like them, it is so different to working a normal 9 to 5 job.

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