June 13 will mark the 10th straight year the Industrial Truck Association (ITA) celebrates National Forklift Safety Day with the express purpose of highlighting the importance of lift truck operator safety training and lift truck safety.
The day got its start a decade ago during an ITA board meeting, when ITA board members discussed that the industry didn’t really have a way to focus on the importance of proper safety training, says Brian Feehan, president of ITA. The organization’s regular members are lift truck OEMs representing 22 different brands, as well as associate members who offer equipment such as batteries or fuel cells for lift trucks.
“It is amazing and exciting that this is the 10th year,” says Feehan. “It all grew out of an ITA meeting in which we were discussing safety, and we noticed there was no industry wide focal point to highlight the importance of safety and operator training, so we developed the idea for a day where all the manufacturers in the industry and indeed everyone involved in the industry could have a day on which we put aside our company hats and just focus on the importance of safety and training. The importance of operator training is a fundamental principle that has to be constantly reinforced.”
Feehan explains that from the start of NFSD, the idea was to bring attention to lift truck safety and operator training issues across a comprehensive swath of constituents, including lift truck dealers, companies with lift truck fleets and operators, safety experts, people in government, and educators.
The main component for NFSD is a live event held in Washington DC on June 13, at the National Press Club, from 9am Eastern to 11am Eastern, during which speakers from industry, safety professionals, and government representatives will participate. This year’s NFSD event chairman is Chuck Pascarelli, president of the Americas Division of Hyster-Yale Group, who also serves as chairman of ITA’s board this year.
The event will also be streamed again this year, a practice that began during the pandemic. Last year, there were about 800 registrants for the virtual event, which Feehan says is crucial for sharing the safety and training message with the broader community of stakeholders. He says this year ITA is also hopeful there will be a resurgence in the number of local NFSD events, now that pandemic concerns and restrictions have eased. Other countries also have a national day for forklift safety, including in Japan, the United Kingdom, China, and Australia.
“We’ve been pleased to see that the safety day concept has spread globally, and it looks like this year, the local efforts will pick up again,” says Feehan. “We began the virtual component in 2020, and that has served as an excellent channel to expand the reach of the event to more people.”
Open to the public, National Forklift Safety Day will be available virtually by visiting the Industrial Truck Association’s website, via this link. The format for 2023 will include presentations from government representatives, safety experts and industry representatives.
The speakers for National Forklift Safety Day 2023 include:
- Brian Feehan, President, Industrial Truck Association
- Chuck Pascarelli, ITA Chairman of the Board and President, Americas, Hyster-Yale Group
- Douglas Parker, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
- Michael Wood, Senior Vice President for Quality, Health, Safety and Environment (QHSE), TEAM Industrial Services
- Ed Stilwell, Innovation Chief Technologist, Hyster-Yale Group
Feehan notes that sales of lift trucks in North America have been very strong the last couple of years, so there are many new units in the market, and subsequently, the need for training increases as truck use expands. In 2022, ITA members sold 344,330 units across Class 1 through 5, down just slightly from 2021’s record of 347,677 units sold by ITA members across the five truck classes. Prior to COVID, 230,000 to 250,000 units was a typical year for lift truck sales in North America for ITA members, adds Feehan, so well over 340,000 units sold in 2022 speaks to continued need and value of industrial trucks.
“Lift truck sales have been strong the past two years, likely due to the growth of ecommerce and the importance of industrial trucks to fulfillment operations,” says Feehan. “And, when you have strong growth in new truck sales, this means more companies are likely adding new operators, which brings with it the need for operator training. Proper training is an area that needs constant attention and focus.”