If you were to combine fast-paced work environments with machine operators at the controls of the equipment they do not understand, then carrying out the work they are unfamiliar with could be, and often sadly is, catastrophic.

In many cases, employers believe their workers are trained and qualified to operate the machinery, having attended and passed their Basic Operator Training. However, regardless of how good the training is, it needs to be accompanied by specific job and familiarisation training before a staff member is fully authorised by their employer to operate machinery in the workplace.

So, taking this into account, what are the different stages of equipment operating training?

Stage #1: Basic Operator Training

As the name suggests, Basic Operator Training is training the worker to perform basic actions. It is vital that the Basic Operator Training programme take place offsite. Any person attending this particular training will learn the practical skills of operating a lift truck, including basic hydraulic controls and simple manoeuvring of the vehicle. Furthermore, the individual will gain an understanding of the governing safety operation principles.

In addition to learning how to operate the machinery, individuals will learn about the different hazards and risks associated with equipment operation. Pre-use inspection and routine maintenance skills, such as battery care and refuelling, are also covered during the Basic Operator Training programme by Pallet Trucks Direct.

Stage #2: Specific Job Training

Specific Job Training is a type of training where context is added to the practical skills learned in the first stage of training. Here, the operator gains knowledge gains knowledge of the operating principles specific to machinery being used, with focus on the attachments they might utilise.

An operator will also learn about the configuration and layout of controls within different types of machinery being used. After all, who says that the equipment used in Basic Operating Training is identical to the equipment they will use on a daily basis?

However, it is not all about the machinery at this stage. During Specific Job Training, the operators will learn about conditions encountered in the workplace, such as racking systems, confined areas, other vehicles, cold stores, and operating surfaces. It is also important to note that during Specific Job Training, the individual will learn about onsite regulations, including pedestrian areas, speed limits, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and traffic flow.

Similar to the Basic Operator Training programme, Specific Job Training needs to be conducted offsite. It tends to be combined with the Basic Operator Training programme and can be either practical or theoretical in its approach. The approach depends on the availability of suitable and secure training areas.

Stage #3: Familiarisation Training

Familiarisation Training is a closely supervised form of training introducing the operator to ‘real life’ working environments for the first time. During this stage, the operator must put the skills and knowledge learned into practice. The tasks begin as simple, but they build up to become more complicated procedures allowing individuals to develop their skills and build confidence.

Similar to stage two, the site layout and regulations form a significant part of Familiarisation Training. The offsite approach of the Specific Job Training makes instruction in certain areas of the workplace impossible, but this training helps to cover these scenarios.

Only once an operator has completed all three of the above stages satisfactorily, and it has been recorded, can an ‘Authorisation to Operate’ be issued. The authorisation must be issued by the employer and indicates that the operator is qualified to operate specific machinery in certain environments.

Briefly reviewing the three separate stages of initial operator training, it is clear to see how Basic Operator Training exclusively can leave operators incompetent and inexperienced when faced with handling machinery in live workplace situations.

Each of the three training procedures is highly significant when it comes to the security of the staff members, as well as the safety of equipment and stock. Operator training is an ongoing procedure that does not end at Basic Operator Training, or at Specific Job Training and Familiarisation Training.