Four In-Demand Skills for Lift Truck Operators
When most employers review a stack of resumes and schedule interviews for potential lift truck operators, they look for the answer to one (fairly obvious) question: Has this candidate ever operated a lift truck? How much experience has he or she had behind the controls? But as it happens, this isn’t the only question that matters. In fact, it may not even make the top five. Plenty of excellent, highly productive employees originally stepped into their interviews with no lift truck experience whatsoever. So if experience isn’t the only signature sign of a great candidate, what other qualities should managers watch out for?
Keep an eye on the candidates who sit up straight, walk with purpose, and show a strong interest in learning things they don’t already know. A candidate who really wants to excel will excel, even if she’s never operated a lift truck in her entire life. Look for evidence that the candidate cares deeply about what will become of him and what will become of the company that employs him. If your candidate wants to learn, is willing to accept that he doesn’t know everything, and is prepared to make each day on the job more productive and error-free then the last, keep that candidate in the running.
This quality falls below interest, since intelligence alone doesn’t always indicate the ability to gain and perfect a new skill set. But it does matter. If your candidate gets into a difficult predicament or finds herself with a puzzle to solve (mechanical, social, or otherwise) will she be able to figure it out? Will he be able to stay calm and stay in motion? Will he ask for help if necessary? Will she remember the training she’s received?
If your candidate has years of experience in the materials handling industry, then she’s already demonstrated this quality, for sure. But if he’s new to the business, make sure he knows what he’s getting into. Materials handling can be boring and monotonous one day, and utterly unpredictable the next. This work can be dirty, loud, and sometimes thankless. Some days can be very long, and sometimes work dries up without warning. Is your candidate ready for the unexpected?
Can your candidate take orders and criticism gracefully? Can she give orders that are clear and direct? Can she follow through on both? Can he get along with others and work well as a member of a team?
For more on how to identify and hire the most reliable candidates, contact the lift truck staffing experts at Lift Temp.
– See more at: http://blog.lifttemp.com/2015/07/four-in-demand-skills-for-lift-truck-operators/#sthash.i4m84WAt.dpuf
Onboarding New Manufacturing Employees
Start your relationship with your new manufacturing employee on the right foot, and make a great impression beginning on their first day. You already know that they’ll be doing the same for you; they’ll be bringing their A-game and stepping into the workplace with the best possible attitude and intentions…So make sure you respond in kind. Demonstrate respect for both the new employee and the position they’re about to take over.
Have Their Workspace and Paperwork Prepared
When your employee arrives at the site, make sure your HR team and their supervisors are ready. Don’t leave themstanding idly for an hour while they wait for a formal welcome and sign-in procedure. Make sure HR, payroll, IT, and of course their own manger all know when they will arrive. Ideally, they should be shown to their work area and be ready to start learning and contributing within a just a few minutes.
Provide Trainers with Clear Instructions
Your new employee may need to be paired with mentors, supervisors, or guides who can walk them through the process and provide a tour of the facility in which they’ll be working. These trainers should know exactly who they are, and they should be well prepared for this task. Don’t just pull someone randomly away from his or her workstation and ask this person to take on the task at the last minute. In most workplaces, this is a very important job with a lasting impact on the new employee’s performance and tenure. Make sure your trainers are carefully chosen and ready for this responsibility.
Provide Accommodations Immediately
If the new employee will require specific data access, passwords, specialized tools, or protective gear in the proper size, take care of this right away. Again, don’t leave the employee performing at half-capacity for hours or days while these basic requirements are being taken care of.
Make the Employee Feel Welcome
The team that will be working with your new employee should know about her arrival well in advance. They should already know their name and role and they should be prepared to welcome them warmly. Encourage your team to provide heartfelt greetings and go the extra mile to speed the acclimation process and help the new employee fit in.
Provide Clear Resources
Most new manufacturing employees will have plenty of questions about their tasks and responsibilities within their first few days and weeks on the job. Make sure your new employee knows exactly where to turn when this happens.
For more on how to train and acclimate new workers on your manufacturing team, reach out to the management experts at Lift Temp.
Overcoming Your Greatest Weakness
Every working person in the world excels in some areas and struggles in others. While some of us are natural experts at organizing spreadsheets, others demonstrate impressive talent with writing, design, budget management, making sense of complex data, remembering names and faces, or motivating teams. When we’re asked (often in an interview setting) to list and describe our greatest strengths, most of us can answer quickly and accurately.
But the same rule doesn’t usually apply when we’re asked to list and describe our greatest weaknesses. These are the skill sets that we’re not so proud of, the areas in which we seem to struggle up the ladder one painful inch at a time, gaining very little reward for a disproportionate level of study and practice. Most of us don’t think much about these areas, and when these tasks need to be addressed, we’d rather hand the responsibility off to almost anyone else in the room. But if you’ve been living a state of avoidance regarding these sore points, now may be a great time to turn the tables and face them head on. Here are a few moves that can help.
Determine what they are.
Be honest with yourself. As you move through an average working day, which tasks do you dislike the most and which do you hand off whenever you have an opportunity? Which ones would you rather avoid for the rest of your life? Look closely; as a common ego defense mechanism, you may tend to casually undermine and dismiss these tasks in order to convince yourself that they aren’t important. But they are. Pretending otherwise won’t help you grow.
Face the facts.
If you’ve placed “typing” on your list, or “accepting criticism” or “interacting with customers”, it’s time to focus your full attention on this task for at least ten minutes each day. Start by reading a few articles or seeking advice from someone close to you who excels at this task. Turn your attention toward experts, mentors, and potential role models. Watch them work and listen closely to any guidance they have to offer.
Put your lessons into action.
When you’re ready, start taking the things you’ve learned and applying them to real-world situations. If you dread public speaking, now is the time to start volunteering for easy speaking opportunities. If you dread giving negative feedback to your direct reports, start offering gentle corrections and constructive criticism.
Determine how far you’d like to take your skill set within one calendar year. When it comes to this area of knowledge or skill, where will you be and what will you be doing this time next summer? Break your larger goal down into smaller goals that you can reach each month, and then each week.
For more on how to tackle and overcome your skill deficits, consult the career management professionals at Lift Temp.
Daily Checks for Forklift Operators
At the beginning of a shift, or just prior to use, forklift operators should take a few minutes to carefully inspect the lift truck they’re about to control. These inspections should happen every single day, regardless of how often the lifting equipment is used of the results of previous inspections. Careful inspection saves lives, prevents injury, and protects equipment and inventory from expensive damage.
As these checks are conducted, users and operators should hold an actual physical list of each inspection item, and should check each item off as they move down the list from top to bottom. Relying on mental lists and checks won’t be enough, no matter experienced operators may be or how familiar they are with their equipment. Every pre-flight check should involve two distinct elements: a visual pre-check and an operational pre-check.
Here are some of the items that should be included in the visual examination of lifting equipment prior to use:
- Is the lift truck clean and in generally good condition?
- Are floor and overhead areas free and clear of obstructions and conditions that could cause an accident?
- Is there an accessible fire extinguisher in the lift truck that’s charged and functional?
For LPG, gas, and diesel forklifts: Check engine oil levels, check radiator fluid levels, and check fuel levels.
For battery powered forklifts: Check battery for full charge, check plug connections for tightness, wear, and dirt, check for exposed wires, make sure vent caps are unclogged, brackets are secure, and electrolyte levels are adequate.
Make sure all guards, chains, and hydraulic hose reels are tight, secure, present and in good repair.
Check wheels and tires for damage, wear, and proper air pressure.
Make sure forks and anchor pins are straight, unbent and unworn, not cracked and not chipped.
Check hoses to make sure they’re securely fastened, unbent and unworn.
Check seatbelts and overhead guard for damage and flaws.
Test horn for functional and volume.
These items should be tested and checked before an operator takes control of a lift truck.
- Test all brakes, including the foot brake, the parking brake, and the deadman seat brake that stops the vehicle when the operator stands up.
- Check the clutch and gearshift for smooth transitions.
- Check lift and tilt mechanisms for smooth operation.
- Check all lights including headlights and traffic signals.
- Listen for unusual sounds and check for fluid leaks.
For more on how to properly inspect and maintain lift truck fleets and other lifting equipment, reach out to the materials handling experts at Lift Temp.
Distraction in the Workplace: An Avoidable Risk
When most people talk about workplace safety and workplace hazards, they’re referring to environmental, structural, and traffic issues. These might include an absent safety railing on a high ledge, perilously hot ambient temperatures, inadequate noise protection, or poorly maintained machinery. With proper training, most managers and HR pros recognize a standard workplace hazard when they see one (or feel or hear it).
But there’s one workplace problem that doesn’t get as much attention, and is just as likely to cause an accident or injury: distraction. As the saying goes, distracted drivers are as dangerous as inebriated drivers, and the same rule applies to workers. What are you doing to protect your employees from this often preventable hazard? Keep these tips in mind.
Solicit feedback from your teams.
The best way to find out more about the dangers faced by your workers is to simply ask them. Encourage honesty by distributing anonymous surveys and/or maintaining an open door policy so employees can report any problem at any time without fear of judgement or criticism. If any employee in your workplace identifies a potentially dangerous distraction—anything from an overly-bright light fixture to a constantly running TV screen—reward the employee for bringing it to your attention.
Pay close attention to teams who rely on concentration and focus.
If some of your employees are operating potentially dangerous, high speed, or precision machinery, keep a close eye on these employees especially. Enforce regular break periods and rest periods. Deliberately remove anything from the ambient environment that may break their concentration even momentarily. Consider every form of visual and auditory stimulation that comes their way; even a bad smell can derail focus for a crucial second. Reduce these problems at the source.
Coworkers can be the biggest distraction of all.
If your employees work in teams or partner pairs, make sure these pairs are stable and functional. If they aren’t, separate mismatches quickly and rotate pairings on a regular basis. Don’t allow coworkers to threaten each other’s safety, even with well-intended but poorly timed conversation. Provide privacy barriers and sound barriers for work stations that benefit from structural boundaries.
Take all complaints seriously.
Some workers are distracted by sounds and intrusions that don’t bother others. But if an employee complains about a squeaking fan, or flapping tarp, a chatty coworker, a divided responsibility, or an occasional blast of cold air across his or her workstation, don’t dismiss the concern. Address the problem in any way you can; Either eliminate the distraction or shift the employee to another area where the distraction won’t cause an accident.
For more on how to keep your workers safe from all hazards, including innocent distractions, contact the staffing and management experts at Lift Temp.
Creating a 30-60-90 Day Plan for a Successful New Job
You just stepped into your first permanent manufacturing job…Congratulations! But in order to make sure this job stays “permanent” and you and your employer launch into a mutually beneficial experience, you’ll need to stay on your toes. Start by creating a clear plan for success, a road map that will guide you through the next 30, 60, and 90 days. By that time, if all goes well, the novel parts of the job will start to feel routine and natural. With any luck, you may feel confident enough to give a helping hand to new employees who will be standing where you are now.
Your First 30 Days
Start by making a strong impression during your first day, and build on that foundation during your first week. Make it clear that you’re happy to be here, excited to start working, and eager to identify your role and give this job your best shot. Make an effort to learn and remember the names of everyone you meet. Keep your conversations and interactions positive. If you feel like you may not remember everything you learn, keep a notepad close and take notes. Ask plenty of questions and try not to ask the same ones twice. By the end of one month, you’ll have won over a few friends and supporters, and learned the basics of the job.
The First 60 Days
Within 60 days, you should be finding a sustainable rhythm and brining your daily productivity rate (however that rate is measured) up to a level on par with the average in your industry. You should also be making a note of your error rates. Now is the time to start tackling those rates and bringing those numbers down. You’ll still be asking plenty of questions, of course, but your questions should be rising to the next level and should be focused on specific aspects of this operation and your contributions.
The First 90 Days
By the time you’ve been on the job for three months, you should be ready to iron out aspects of your daily work that seem uncomfortable or difficult for you. What’s the most challenging part of your day? By this stage, you should be able to answer that question quickly, and your answer should show where your focus lies at this point. Get these rough spots smoothed out, and as you do so, you’ll move closer to a degree of expertise which will earn the respect of your employer and prepare you for the next level of responsibility.
For more on how to step into your new manufacturing job and hit the ground running, contact the expert staffing team at Lift Temp.
Prevent the Hazards of Manual Materials Handling by Using Forklifts
The term “manual materials handling”, or MMH, usually referrers to the handling, lifting, and moving of inanimate objects in the workplace without the benefit of mechanical assistance. Some form of manual materials handling takes place in almost every job, but employees who work in factories, warehouses and distribution centers handle objects without support more often than employees in other industries. And as it happens, research shows that MMH is the most common source of work-related lower back pain and occupational fatigue. In fact, three out of four Canadian workers who lift and move objects on a regular basis will suffer from back pain or back injury at least once.
Preventing MMH Injuries
There are no demographics that indicate a greater risk for MHH injury. Both genders and all ages are equally susceptible to strain, fatigue and back pain. Women and men are not statistically variant in their ability to lift and move objects, and while workers over the age of 45 may lose physical strength, their bodies typically adapt by applying years of ingrained experience to the lifting process. In fact, younger workers suffer a higher number of back injuries while lifting loads of the same weight and size. So preventing MMH hazards should not excuse gender and age discrimination.
Instead, preventing MMH injures should involve a careful evaluation of required tasks and the provision of tools, protective gear, and safe lifting equipment. For smaller tasks, a supportive belt can prevent hernia and muscle strain. Proper safety training provided by qualified experts can also reduce lifting injuries. But most important: Workers should be provided with devices that offer the leverage and lifting support they need.
The Benefit of Forklifts
Forklifts and mechanized lifting equipment, like overhead cranes, may require an initial outlay of capital. But this cost should be considered an investment in worker safety and productivity. Forklifts now include advanced ergonomic and safety features, and the fuel efficiency of both gas and battery powered lifting equipment has increased in recent years. With sophisticated mast-stability features and a growing ratio of lifting power to size and maneuverability, forklifts are becoming a necessary feature of almost any materials-handling workplace.
Versatile designs are now available, including narrow-aisle forklift models and a range of lifting extensions and attachments. Now may be the perfect time to examine the costs and benefits of various forklift models that may protect your employees and meet the unique needs of your workplace.
For more information on lifting equipment and injury prevention, reach out to the materials handling staffing experts at Lift Temp.
The Basic Responsibilities of OH&S Legislation
Across all the jurisdictions and provinces of Canada, the language and broader points of Occupational Health and Safety legislation remain similar. The basic responsibilities of employees, employers, and supervisors are fairly consistent across most workplaces, though the finer points of the legislation and methods of enforcement may vary slightly from one region to the next.
Basic Employer Responsibilities
Supervisors and employees will need to read, process, and apply the information relevant to their own aspects of the law, and employees will likewise need to address other areas of responsibility. Here are some of the key points that will require employer attention.
A joint health and safety committee
Employers will need to establish and maintain a committee to address issues relevant to safety and injury prevention in the workplace, or otherwise compel employees to form and maintain a committee or elect a representative to handle this task.
Take precautions to ensure a safe workplace
Since only employers have the ability and authority to change the nature of the workplace, this task will fall under the employer umbrella of responsibility. This will include, among other examples, installing safety railings, preventing harmful substances from intruding into workspaces, and preventing shop floor accidents, machinery malfunctions, and traffic collisions.
Provide complete and adequate safety training
It will be the responsibility of the employer to provide and pay for safety training sessions and make sure all employees have completed the sessions and understand the content. These sessions will train employees to handle workplace safety emergencies and also use, handle and dispose of hazardous materials properly.
Supply protective equipment
Employers will need to provide all employees with personal safety equipment and protective gear that will be well maintained, inspected, and in good repair. This will include items like hard hats, gloves and protection from heat, cold, and hazardous materials.
Employers will report all injuries, accidents and relevant safety incidents the proper department of the Occupational Health and Safety office. The reporting process must be timely, accurate and complete.
Employers will set and maintain high safety standards by appointing a supervisor who will control specific workplace metrics relevant to safety.
For more on how the responsibilities of OH&S legislation will be distributed and enforced, reach out to the workplace safety and staffing experts at Lift Temp.
The Impact of Workplace Stress on Manufacturing Employees
As a business owner, team leader, or operations manager in the manufacturing sector, you already know that productive workers are happy workers. And happy workers are usually those who feel safe in the workplace, who are paid adequately, and who are treated with respect by their employers. If any of these conditions aren’t met, stress levels go up and productivity goes down. Here are some of the specific ways that poor working conditions can hurt your employees and undermine your bottom line.
Noise, Temperature, Vibrations, and Environmental Stressors
Short intense bursts of exposure to any of these three conditions (noise, temperature extremes, and vibrations) can cause trauma and one-time injury. A burst of sound can damage the tympanic membrane, which may result in hearing loss. Sudden bursts of environmental heat and cold can cause hypothermia, frostbite, heat exhaustion or burns, and vibrations can cause muscle and skeletal injury. But these conditions can also have serious impact on employee health at very low grades if they’re sustained and the employees are not protected. Don’t wait for employees to complain about these problems—be proactive and perform regular inspections to make sure these threats are kept under control.
Perceptions of Employer Commitment to Safety
It’s been well documented that employees are more productive and turnover tends to be lower when workers perceive that their employers are committed to their safety. Simple things like installing a handrail on a high platform can make a significant difference in terms of employee engagement and loyalty. Even if no employees have ever fallen from the platform, protecting them from the possibility can be a wise investment. The same applies to protection from dangerous machinery, enforcement of hard hat rules, and prominently posted safety warnings.
Overtime and Working Hours
Monitor overtime and make sure that employees are getting enough sleep and adequate breaks, especially when these employees are completing high stress tasks that require concentration and focus. Don’t allow employees to skip rest periods or work consecutively for an unsafe or chronically stressful number of hours.
Monitor Manager-Employee Relationships
Studies typically show that a high percentage of workplace happiness or misery results from the health and strength of boss-employee relationships. If you see evidence of a mismatch, bullying, extreme personality conflicts, or other problems that keep exceptional employees under stress or not operating at their full capacity, intervene. Disciplinary action or a transfer may be necessary.
For more on how to keep both acute and chronic background stress from undermining the productivity of your workplace and the health and engagement of your employees, contact the expert staffing team at Lift Temp.
Risk Management: Five Ways to Prevent Workplace Hazards
You may have the strongest and most effective policies in place when it comes to addressing and documenting workplace injuries. When your employees experience any incident, from a fall in an icy parking lot to a malfunctioning pressure valve on a dangerous machine, your HR, safety, and legal teams swoop to the rescue of both the person and the company. But here’s an even better way to deal with workplace incidents: prevent them from happening in the first place. Here are five steps that can derail unfortunate incidents long before they take place.
Perform Regular Audits
Choose simple, easy-to-measure safety metrics that can guide your entire program. Then record these metrics at least once and ideally several times per year. For example: measure the number of falls that occur on your shop floor, the number of hard hat rule violations each quarter, the number of machinery jams per week, or the number of times a cleaning inspection reveals cut corners. Use these metrics to monitor larger problems and address the issues that lie beneath. Too many hard hat violations, for example, can suggest deep flaws or gaps in your safety-gear training program.
Act Quickly and Decisively on Safety Reports
If an employee reports a potentially dangerous chemical leak, a wobbly hand rail, a strange smell, or weak adherence to safety rules on the part of a manager or superior, act on these reports quickly. Don’t allow them to accumulate or go unaddressed. Review your response record, and no matter how swiftly and effectively these complaints are dealt with, find room for improvement.
Update Your Data Platforms
Your reports are filed into your software system after they’re submitted, and you have the ability to call them up and review them at a glance. But can you cross reference different data feeds? Can you review the data in real time? Can you isolate certain metrics from others and determine if there’s a correlation between, for example, cold weather and a rise in PTO days? If you can’t do this with your current system, it may be time for an upgrade.
Refresh Manager Training Programs
Train your managers carefully, and provide refresher training as often as necessary. Not only should managers know how to explain and enforce safety rules (like preflight machinery reviews), they should also set an impeccable example. If they violate a safety rule, cut a corner, or put an employee in harm’s way for any reason, the consequences should be serious and well understood.
Use Digital Monitoring
Keep track of climate conditions, temperature, hazardous fumes, noise levels, vibrations, and other potential dangers with reliable measuring and recording tools. Don’t allow human judgement and human error to determine the definition of a “hazard”.
For more on how to keep your workplace and your employees safe, reach out and arrange a consultation with the experts at Lift Temp.