The Indian construction industry has been growing at a phenomenal pace, especially with the boost from demand in infrastructure segment. The industry rests on the shoulders of engineers, architects, planners as well as skilled and unskilled labour. Forklift Academy of India (FAI) is the premier safety training company, focusing primarily on Material Handling equipments and to enhance the safety and efficiency of construction workers.
Headquartered in Pune, India, the company was instituted in January 2008. Helping unskilled workers is one of the key reasons behind the launch of Forklift Academy of India, remarks F C Shaikh – Founder and CEO of FAI. “The safety of the forklift operators is a prime concern, especially since there is no formal training available for forklift operation. Hence, the operators learn on their own, and pick up good and bad habits, thus endangering their own life and that of people working around them.” The other cause involves the upliftment of school dropouts. The criterion laid down by the authorities to obtain a forklift operator licence is passing the eight standard school exams. Thus, this skill can be developed in school drop-outs and they can be incorporated in the mainstream of society by getting decent employment in the industry.
FAI represents the first corporate face of Forklift Safety Training in India. The brain child behind this venture is a renowned industry veteran—F C Shaikh—who carries over 30 years of rich experience. It is this experience and deep knowledge which has contributed to the phenomenal success of its programmes in such a short period of time.
The Need for Training
Forklift is defined as Class of Vehicle (CoV) 20 by the Motor Vehicle Act of India, and therefore it is mandatory to have an exclusive Forklift driving licence issued by the Government RTO authorities. All types of industries where material handling is a part of operations, have been switching over to automation by using forklift trucks. Untrained operators are risky and accident prone. Hence the industry needs trained operators. FAI provides much needed forklift safety trainings to not only untrained, but also experienced forklift operators. FAI’s programme prepares the operator to appear for the RTO test and obtain a valid forklift driver’s licence.
As a company dedicated to Forklift Safe Operations at Workplace, FAI offers a one day programme on ‘Safe Operations and Daily Maintenance of Forklift Trucks’. This is their flagship programme, which has been offered to over 100 satisfied customers across India. This unique programme has significantly improved the safety conditions at the workplace, thereby reducing accidents and near-misses to almost zero. Operators undertaking this programme have shown significant improvement in safe operations, contributing significantly to the overall safety of man, machine and material.
FAI’s core Safety Research Knowledge Body (SRKB) constantly updates the training programmes to make them more and more effective. The feeds of this improvement mostly come from industry inputs and client experiences.
The training emphasises on safety oriented practical principles and processes by designing programmes that offer people the knowledge, skills and practices they need to ensure complete safety in the workplace. The programmes are complemented with real-life pictures of mishaps, videos as well as easy-to-understand illustrations. The safety handbook, which is given to each participant, lists down simple steps for the operators in their day-to-day operations. This handbook is the operator’s Bible for maintaining safety at work.
Programmes also include one day classroom workshops for experienced operators, six days or two days workshop for freshers and nonexperienced attendees. The core differentiating factor of the programmes is the unique training methodologies, which ensure participants’ complete involvement throughout the programme. Each programme starts with a pretest and ends with a post test.
A six days vocational course called the ‘Forklift Operator’, which includes theory and hands-on-training in a 5,000 sq. ft model warehouse, has been launched for the first time in India. With a variety of training modules, FAI has created a new career opportunity for school dropouts with courses tailored to their needs. This section of society has always looked for ways and means to make a decent livelihood. The training ensures that these people meet their target.
Training Methodologies The course content is as per Occupational Safety and Health Standards (OSHA).
Since the participants are not very highly educated, FAI’s presentations are pictorial, with a good use of graphics and videos, which are the best forms of teaching. FAI has also instituted a unique methodology to motivate the participants with gifts and awards.
In the first year of its existence, Forklift Academy of India was nominated for TATA-NEN Awards. This was followed by a recognition from Sankalp— a social enterprise and investment forum, as finalist at the Sankalp 2009 Awards. In 2011, Si’Tarc(Scientific and Industrial Testing And Research Centre) Coimbatore appointed FAI as franchisee, and in 2012, TVH Belgium approached FAI for promoting safety trainings of forklift operators in Middle East and SAARC countries.
FAI has conducted over 140 workshops since 2008. The industry associations include Apollo Tyres, Asian Paints, Sandoz, Ballarpur Industries, BPCL, Balmer Laurie, Tata Motors (Nano Project), Cipla, Cadbury, Bosch, Suzlon Energy, Toyota, among other industry stalwarts. Mahindra Logistics, Cummins India, Petrocon International, Institute of Petroleum Technology, Visteon Automotive System India, Hansen Transmission, Schneider Electric have availed of the six days workshops. Apart from this, over 150 individuals who attended the six days workshop at the academy are now gainfully employed as forklift operators in the above companies.
The programmes have been attended by people from diverse backgrounds and business requirements. Some of the attendees have been students migrating to Australia and Canada. As for international recognition, participants from Angola, Sweden, Nigeria, Nepal and Abu Dhabi have attended FAI’s workshops in Pune. World famous forklift manufacturer from Belgium, TVH has requested for FAI’s franchise for forklift safety workshops in Middle East and SAARC Countries. The two have recently signed an agreement to this effect.
The various industries which are users of forklift trucks are reached through FAI’s website and mailers. FAI goes personally to the rural areas and reaches out to school dropouts so that they can get a shot at gainful employment.
Paying it Forward
The idea started as a one man army and now it has grown into a team of three. The success behind the academy’s endeavours lies in the need felt by the industry for trained forklift operators. As of date, FAI has appointed two franchisees to propagate its concern. In the recent past, FAI helped an automobile manufacturer in Pune by providing 50 MHE operators. “Leading industries are approaching the Academy for employing trained forklift operators, since FAI is the first and only forklift operator training organisation in India,” notes Mr Shaikh.
FAI also offers other services such as Safety Consultancy, MHE Consultancy and the MHE Placement Cell, which is the meeting point between trained forklift operators and the industry.
The initiative undertaken by FAI is indeed commendable and a pioneering movement in the construction sector. Not only does it answer an industry need, but also contributes to the enhancement of human capital of the country. The mushrooming of more such concepts will aid the rapid economic development of the Indian industry, as a whole.