MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. -- During the week of Feb. 26 – March 2, forklift operators practiced, practiced and practiced. They tested their skills in both written and practical applications, but they also practiced.
Most people probably don’t give forklift operators much of a first or even second thought. Still, these are the people who move all the large objects from one point to another. That door, armor plating or even a replacement engine is vital to the effective operations at Maintenance Center Albany.
If the object gets damaged, dropped or is otherwise broken, then many hours of time, not to mention cost, swirl down the drain. This can lead to inefficiency and an overall burden to the troops in the field when their equipment does not arrive in a timely manner.
In a class run by Staff Sgt. Calandra Bonner, base licensing examiner, 30 trainees spent the week in the classroom and near the Civilian Human Resources Office parking lot practicing the fundamentals and details of driving a fork lift. Some of the students were veterans with many years of experience, and some were new to driving a forklift. Some were being licensed by the base for the first time, others were being re-licensed.
Trainees go through a rigorous procedure in gaining an operator’s license. The training lasts for a week. One day is spent in the classroom going over administrative procedures, Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations, Marine Corps standards and Department of Defense regulations. Bonner called this “the ins and outs; the dos and don’ts.” The other four days are spent on the course going through, over and around a variety of obstacles and procedures.
Those who gain the license are, afterwards, able to apply their skills throughout the base, the Marine Corps, or with proper transfer papers, the entire armed services community. One could say the skills are easily transferable.
The training includes not only the skills in operating the lifts, but also in maintaining the equipment. They learn to make certain the lift is in good working condition.
Bonner said the biggest obstacle to the training occurs with people “who do not want to change.” There are those who think, “I’ve been an operator for 30 years and what makes them think I’m going to change now?” Bonner’s motto is “Training that brings about no change is as useful as a parachute that opens on the first bounce.”
Bonner takes the training process seriously. She calls her training aids such as pallets, cones and racks, her children. She did note that, “We can laugh and joke, but we know that business is business.”
When asked what the most important lesson of the training is, Bonner quickly said, “Safety. Anyone can drive, but you can’t (be) a successful operator without safety.”