Safe operators score at forklift rally

Winners of the 2011 BC Forklift Rally

“Some of these guys are literal artists,” said John Gilder, general manager of the Canadian Materials Handling and Distribution Society.

He was talking about the high skill level of participants at the 14th Annual BC Forklift Rally at the Cloverdale Agriplex on Saturday, June 25, 2011.

“They are on these machines eight hours a day. That’s where their career is spent – on a machine. Some of them are incredible. It’s like the machine is a part of them.”

What happens at a forklift rally?

Competitors must complete a written test on Part 16 of the WorkSafeBC Occupational Health & Safety Regulation and the ANSI/ITSDF B.56.1 – 2005 Safety Standard for Low-Lift and High-lift Trucks.

Then they get on the forklifts to test their skills and dexterity. Judges – who are forklift safety trainers – watch their six- to eight-minute performance and give demerit points for hitting pylons/cones, improper load handling techniques, not checking rear clearance before reversing, and others things.

“If you’re not a good, solid operator and you’re not operating in a safe, smooth, and efficient manner, you’re not going to do well in the competition,” John said.

Harding Motorsport Race Car at the 14th Annual BC Forklift Rally

The rally included other side attractions to entertain spectators – including a barbecue, bouncy castle for the kids, BC Lions Cheerleaders posing for pictures with spectators, and the Harding Motorsports Race Car.

How does it lead to safety at work?

I asked John how a forklift rally translates to safety at work.

“It really gets the dialogue going,” he said, describing how participants study the Regs and hone their skills to get ready for the rally. It engages people on the topic of safety so much better than a traditional safety talk.

“During the years I was in industry, I would start talking about safety and the guys would drift away in a minute. They all agree that safety is very important; they just don’t want to talk about it. But as soon as you talk competition and prize money, they’re like ‘Hello!’ I think the important thing is we’re getting their attention.”

Congratulations to all the winners and thanks to John, the sponsors, and to all the volunteers who made it happen. He’s hoping to get more people involved for next year’s rally on Saturday, May 5, 2012 at the Cloverdale Agriplex.

Here’s a how-to video on YouTube from


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