When it comes to lift truck operator training, there’s plenty of help available to material handling professionals. A flip through a business directory or a few keystrokes online will reveal numerous safety training firms and OSHA experts ready to help companies comply with OSHA’s mandatory powered industrial truck operator training.

But the most comprehensive source of training for a particular lift truck model is often found right at the source— the lift truck manufacturer. And, while operator training programs from lift truck manufacturers have been offered for many years, the focus of these programs has gradually changed to fit the fluctuating needs of the market.

One example is a new safety training program from Raymond Corp. called “Steps to Safety: Pedestrian Safety in a Material Handling Environment.” The program is so new that, as of press time, it had not been announced. Raymond selected MHM as the first publication to break the news.

What’s so special about Raymond’s safety program? The answer is deceptively simple: It’s about pedestrian safety, not operator training. Operator programs are readily available from many lift truck manufacturers, but few have developed programs that target non-operators.

MHM talked to Mike Angelini, manager of dealer and customer education at Raymond, to get the scoop. Following is the exclusive interview.

MHM: Why did Raymond start offering a program for pedestrian safety?

Angelini: The decision to develop “Steps to Safety” resulted from feedback our customers provided through their local Raymond sales and service centers. These companies felt strongly that a training program was necessary for the pedestrian employees who worked around lift trucks in their facilities. They indicated that lift truck operator training was very important but only part of the equation. They felt that pedestrians working in a facility, in and around lift trucks, also needed to be educated on proper behaviors and their responsibilities, as well.

MHM: Who is the target audience for the training program?

Angelini: The target audience is pedestrians who work in an environment where lift trucks operate; however, the reach of the program can be much greater, depending upon how a customer chooses to integrate it into his or her existing safety training. Raymond anticipates that, in many cases, this program will be used as part of a comprehensive warehouse or distribution safety program.

As part of a broader, integrated educational mandate on the part of the employer, the materials in “Steps to Safety” are suitable for several audiences in addition to pedestrians. The program can provide operators with good behavioral examples for proper pedestrian/operator interactions. It can enable managers to be more aware of how their employees have been educated and help them reinforce proper behavior and correct inappropriate behavior. It also can provide guidance to any employee who occasionally works or walks in the environment and to guests and visitors who might be taken on a facility tour.

MHM: Is the program designed to be a refresher course or as part of orientation for new hires?

Angelini: It can be used for both. It certainly should be part of the safety orientation for a new employee who will be working in the facility, but it also can be used in refresher training to reinforce the initial training an employee received.

MHM: How is "Steps to Safety" different from other training programs offered by other lift truck manufacturers?

Angelini: That’s a bit tough to answer as we haven’t seen all the programs that are available. Many only provide a standalone DVD to augment a company’s existing overall safety training program.

“Steps to Safety” not only provides a DVD for training but also a CD with a customizable PowerPoint presentation that can be modified to meet each company’s specific needs, 10 printed participant handbooks with a PDF of the handbook for future reproduction and an end-of-course safety review. The training is designed to be provided by the customer, but it also can be delivered by a trainer from the local Raymond sales and service center.

MHM: Can the training be used with many different types of lift trucks?

Angelini: Like our operator training program, “Safety on the Move,” the program will be available through authorized Raymond sales and service centers only. Because the topic is pedestrian safety training, it is not specific to Raymond equipment and can be used as a stand-alone program for pedestrian safety or integrated into a larger program focused on safety in the warehouse.

MHM: Can the program be customized?

Angelini: Yes. Site-specific examples and procedures can be added to the standard content.

MHM: What do supervisors need to stress when conducting this type of training?

Angelini: Stressing the fact that safety really is everyone’s responsibility is very important when conducting any type of safety training. It also is important to stress why training is essential because the goal is not just to train but to develop a positive and responsible company-wide attitude about safety. Discussing the rationale behind training can lead to some very insightful and rewarding discussions.

Safety awareness is a process. While training is important, it is only one part of a comprehensive program designed to keep safety foremost in people’s minds. All employees have an obligation to provide a safe work environment for their colleagues. “Steps to Safety” is a tool that can help companies train their employees to do just that.