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What is a Fork Lift Operator?

Also known as: Lift Truck Operator, Forklift Operator, Forklift Driver, Fork Truck Driver, Fork Lift Technician.

A fork lift operator is someone who is responsible for operating a fork lift to move, locate, relocate, stack, and count merchandise around warehouses, storage yards, factories, construction sites and other work sites. The operator is accountable for the safe and efficient operation of the fork lift and may also be required to perform order filler and checker duties.

What does a Fork Lift Operator do?

A fork lift is a specialized type of vehicle that gets its name from a large pronged “fork” that protrudes from the front that can rotate, lift, and move cargo according to the operator’s directions. These machines are often the most popular in warehouses and factories, and are also widely used in supply yards and loading docks.

Fork lift operators are primarily responsible for driving these machines and moving cargo according to specific instructions provided by supply managers. Forklift operators are responsible for loading and unloading trucks, ships, freight train cars, and airplane cargo holds. The freight is typically loaded onto pallets, which are usually grooved specifically for the fork’s prongs; making loading and unloading fairly easy. At times, heavy or unusually shaped freight may not be on a pallet, and in these cases it may need to be picked up directly with the fork. Fork lift operators may also be in charge of performing basic inspections on their machinery and doing simple maintenance-related tasks like keeping joints lubricated.

Various duties of a fork lift operator:

  • Unloading inbound shipments safely and moving product to storage locations
  • Stacking and storing merchandise in appropriate areas
  • Ensuring inbound and outbound shipments are accurate and free of damage
  • Reporting quality variances
  • Pulling and preparing product for shipment, ensuring that the exact number and type of product is loaded and shipped
  • Performing picking duties in an efficient manner that meets customer service standards
  • Efficiently moving products from storage areas into rail cars or trailers
  • Loading, unloading, moving, and stacking products and materials
  • Using radio frequency equipment for picking, receiving, putting away, and loading products
  • Inspecting and performing minor maintenance on the fork lift or other equipment
  • Keeping appropriate records and reports to guarantee that tight inventory control and security are maintained
  • Assisting in physical inventories
  • Ensuring proper stock rotation

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What is the workplace of a Fork Lift Operator like?

Fork lift operators work in warehouses, factories, storage yards, construction sites, supply yards, and on loading docks. They sometimes work in extreme temperatures, and depending on what kind of materials they are moving, could be around fumes, odours, loud noises or harmful chemicals. Most fork lift drivers work eight-hour shifts. In 24-hour warehouses, shifts can be around the clock.

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Further Reading

  • Daily Checks for Forklift Operators www.lifttemp.com

    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.

  • A Day in the Life of a Forklift Operator/Warehouse Loader www.pepsibottlingventures.com

    If you work in a Pepsi Bottling Ventures' warehouse, the bulk of what you do each day is directly related to the loading and unloading of trucks. While the work is physical and demanding, our job is critical to the success of the business. It may look or sound simple, but there is a real science to it.

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