Competitors wanted for annual forklift rodeo competition

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TUMWATER — Driving a forklift may look easy, but driving one safely requires the right training and experience.

Beginning next week, professional forklift drivers across the state will begin competing in a series of contests leading to a final competition at the 60th Governor's Industrial Safety and Health Conference to determine the best forklift driver in the state.

The first regional qualifying forklift rodeo this year will be on June 11 in Central Washington at the Volpentest HAMMER Training and Education Center in Richland.

Other forklift competitions will be held in Spokane on July 9 and in Auburn on Aug. 20.

"I'm already signed up," said Foss forklift operator Ron Cochran. "This will be the fifth year I've done it."

Cochran won first place in 2010, taking home the $500 purse and bragging rights to being the best, and safest, forklift operator in the state.

The top five individual qualifiers from the regional events compete in the 14th Annual Forklift Rodeo, held at the start of the annual Governor's Industrial Safety and Health Conference in Tacoma on Sept. 28 and 29. The conference itself is co-sponsored by the Governor's Industrial Safety and Health Advisory Board and the Department of Labor & Industries. The forklift rodeos typically draw the best forklift drivers from around the state. Cochran said he first competed at the suggestion of another operator who had noticed his skill with the forklift. That first year he won second place and he has made the finals three out of the four years he's competed.

The contest stresses safety. Competitors must pass a written exam and a pre-use inspection of a forklift before competing in the obstacle course. The top seven drivers in the regional competitions earn cash prizes ranging from $50 to $300. In the finals, prizes range from $100 to $500 for the top five drivers. Participation is limited to the first 30 drivers who register.

To register, visit www.wagovconf.org or call 206-281-3842 or 1-888451-2004 (TDD users: 360-902-5797). The entry fee is $40 for competitors. Spectators are welcome free of charge.

While the competitions are friendly and fun, they are meant to encourage improved safety among forklift operators.

"This can be really hazardous work," Cochran said. "Having the right training is invaluable."

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For media information: Hector Castro, L&I, 360-902-6043.

Broadcast version: The Department of Labor and Industries and the Governor's Industrial Safety and Health Advisory Board invite professional forklift drivers in Central Washington to compete June 11 in a regional qualifying forklift rodeo at the Volpentest HAMMER Training and Education Center in Richland. Other forklift competitions will be in Spokane on July 9 and Auburn on Aug. 20. The winners from these regional competitions go on to compete in the 14th Annual Forklift Rodeo at the 60th Governor's Industrial Safety and Health Conference in Tacoma on Sept. 28 and 29. For information or to register, visit www dot wa gov conf dot org or call 1-888-451-2004.

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