It is a requirement by OSHA that every employee who operates a forklift must be fully trained and certified. The Occupational Safety and Health Act was signed into law in 1970 by President Nixon and the purpose of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is to create health and safety regulations to provide every worker the right to work in a safe and healthy environment without fear of being injured or becoming sick.

Because a forklift is an extremely dangerous piece of equipment, several laws have been passed by OSHA to ensure that injuries and death from operating them are kept to a minimum. One of these laws requires operators of forklift machinery to have sufficient training at the end of which a forklift license is granted. If anyone in a company operates a forklift without the required safety training and certification, an employer can be given a hefty fine that could seriously impact the business.

As well as complying with the legal requirement, sufficient training is immensely beneficial to prospective forklift drivers as employers are more likely to hire qualified drivers with certification as they won’t have to provide the training themselves.

Forklift Certification Training

There are two ways to obtain your forklift license: online certification or in-person certification.

With online training, you can get formal training and evaluation but without the most important part �” the actual driving of a forklift! All forklift drivers are required to have formal education, training, and evaluation as well as passing a driving test. Therefore you will not be fully certified with the online version of forklift training. Employers may hire employees with only online training and provide them with practical training on site.

In-Person forklift certification training can be set up by an individual or provided by an employer. As an individual, you will register for the training, attend classroom lectures, do practical training, pass your performance test and get evaluated by the instructor of the course. A typical in-person training course lasts about 2 days or longer, depending on the quality of the training and how fast you are able to learn.

A Guide to In-Person Forklift Training

Below are some guidelines on how the process works and what you should do before applying:

Self Assessment
If you are looking for a new career in forklift driving or a change in a career, you will need to determine what type of forklift truck you would be interested in operating to ensure that you receive specific training on that type. The most common type is a counterbalance forklift truck that has forks at the front. The second most common type is the 3-wheel counterbalance forklift and is most likely the type you will probably be trained in. However, there are other types and you will have to do your research until you find the one that you would like to operate.

If you are already employed, by law your employer must provide you with the required practical training on the specific machinery you will be driving in the workplace and see to it that you get your license.

Enrolling in a Forklift Training School

Once you have decided on the type of forklift, you can find a training school with the proper OSHA standards to provide you with the knowledge and expertise you will need to safely and effectively operate a forklift truck.

Classroom Lectures
The first part of your forklift training will involve several hours of classroom lectures with topics that include:

– OSHA regulations to fully understand the laws and how to operate under them
– General workplace safety
– Specific techniques to prevent accidents
– Safe forklift driving

The topics covered are necessary for safely operating a forklift and having regard for the safety of others in the workplace as well as property. Accidents can lead to lost production time for the employer, property damage, injury, and in the worst case scenario, death. In America, about 85 people die each year on average as a result of forklift accidents.

Written Examinations
After attending the required lectures you will need to pass a written examination that proves that you have acquired the knowledge necessary to safely drive a forklift truck. Depending on the training standards of the particular school you are attending, the required passing grade is usually around 75%, but can be higher at some schools.

Practical Forklift Driving Test
Once you have passed the written training test, you will learn how to drive a real forklift. During this section of the training you will learn the following skills:

– Starting the engine
– Safe loading techniques
– Safe lifting techniques
– How to maneuver the forklift in open and tight spaces
– Lifting different loads and weights
– Other potential tasks that you may encounter in a proper workplace environment.

The final part of your training will involve evaluation by your course instructor. On passing both the written and practical tests you will be granted a license which certifies you to drive a forklift truck. This is an invaluable document to include in your resume when applying for a job in the fork lifting industry.

Unfortunately, certification lasts for only three years after which you will have to be re-certified to maintain your qualification.