You’re probably here because you’ve been searching for info on how to get forklift certified, and it’s likely that either you or someone you know wants to become a forklift operator.
Whatever the case, it’s important to know that, in many countries, including the United States, forklift drivers or operators must first obtain forklift certification before being legally permitted to operate this kind of equipment. Getting forklift certified is a legal requirement.
In most cases, a government agency is responsible for enforcing the requirement that employers only allow “competent” individuals to operate forklifts within their companies. In the U.S., this agency is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, more commonly referred to as OSHA.
It’s important to note that, OSHA does not actually provide forklift training; it is the responsibility of employers to train their employees. There are several ways employers can accomplish this including facilitating internal classroom training, hiring external trainers, providing online training, requiring that operators hold a training certificate prior to starting work, etc.
The Benefits of Operators Becoming Forklift Certified
By requiring that operators become forklift certified, OSHA’s main goal is to avoid and reduce forklift-related injuries. Driving or operating a forklift truck without proper training is extremely dangerous. Statistics show that almost a hundred workers are killed in the U.S. annually, and another 35,000 sustain serious injuries as a result of forklift incidents.
Operators becoming forklift certified does not only helps to ensure safety in the workplace, but it also helps employers to comply with the law. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has the power and authority to fine employers thousands of dollars for allowing uncertified forklift drivers to operate equipment in their workplaces. Additionally, this amount skyrockets when OSHA is able to prove that the employer willfully neglected to train the employee or employees in question.
In addition to helping employers with compliance issues, effective forklift certification lowers the risks of property and product damage and also lowers the rates of workers’ compensation insurance costs.
Individuals who possess forklift certification find that it gets easier to obtain industrial jobs. In addition to that, forklift certified workers tend to take home larger paychecks when compared to their untrained counterparts.
Fortunately, getting forklift certified is usually relatively quick and straightforward, especially for already experienced operators. Some may choose to take the certification in person (classroom-style), which will require them to attend live classroom training for several days, or they may choose to take an online forklift training course.
Today, most people prefer the latter option (online training) for a number of reasons. Some of the advantages of online forklift training include:
Lower Costs – Online forklift training course costs are typically much less than classroom training courses. Not only does this apply to the actual cost of the forklift training course, but also costs associated with travel to and from a forklift training facility.
Accessibility – Online Forklift training is accessible 24/7 from any computer, laptop or mobile device with a reliable internet connection.
Flexibility – The flexibility of online training allows learners to take the training at their own pace, in an environment that’s distraction-free and most suitable for them.
Instant Certificate and Document Access – High-quality online forklift training course providers will allow learners to access their training certificates and documents instantly once they’ve successfully completed their training. This means that if you’re starting a new job tomorrow and the employer requires that you possess a forklift training certificate, you can easily take the training the night before and confidently arrive to work the next morning with the certificate in hand.
According to OSHA regulations, one must go through two separate phases of training – forklift theory training, which can be offered via classroom or online training and hands-on or workplace-specific training, which should be provided by the operator’s employer at the specific worksite. Each of the two phases must conclude with an evaluation or assessment, which confirms that the operator meets the competency requirements in order to grant certification.
Forklift Theory training is usually the first phase of the forklift certification process.
Theory training covers topics such as:
- Equipment types, anatomy, and components
- Stability and capacity of a forklift
- General forklift operational and safety principals
- Load handling principals
- Principals relating to refueling and recharging a forklift
After an operator completes their theory training, they’ll be required to successfully pass a knowledge evaluation. This evaluation is typically administered in the form of a quiz, test or exam. High-quality online forklift training providers include a knowledge evaluation upon conclusion of the course’s learning modules.
Hands-On / Workplace-Specific Training
Hands on / Workplace-specific forklift training will take place on the job site. This is the second phase of the certification process and is usually completed by your employer.
During this portion of the training, operators will become familiarized with information specific to the work site and they’ll practice on specific equipment that they’ll be required to use throughout their duties.
Workplace Specific and Practical training will include:
- Reviewing and understanding the company’s specific policies, procedures, guidelines and the equipment’s operating manual
- Becoming familiar with the equipment’s specific features and safety equipment
- Performing pre-operational inspections
- Performing equipment start up’s and shut down’s
- Practicing traveling with and without loads
- Practicing various types of load handling
- Learning about hazards that are specific to the workplace and how to protect oneself and their coworkers from the hazards
Practical training and practice should always be completed under the direct supervision of a qualified trainer.
After completing hands-on and workplace specific forklift training, an operator will be required to successfully complete and pass a practical evaluation. Most practical evaluations will require that an operator demonstrate their abilities in safely operating a forklift, including the ways in which they travel loaded and unloaded/ They’ll also demonstrate how they operate in the presence of pedestrians as well as their competence in safely raising, lowering, handling, stacking and destacking loads.
Is Forklift Refresher Training Necessary?
Refresher forklift training will be required at intervals in accordance with the local jurisdiction’s guidelines. For instance, you may be in a country, state or province that requires full retraining every three years, while others may require that an operator simply be evaluated. For example, the CSA Standard requires that operators be re-trained every three years.
The current OSHA forklift training standards do not demand any specific refresher training duration, though they call for evaluation or assessment after every three years. However, forklift refresher training must be given when any of the following occurs:
- If an operator is observed operating a forklift in an unsafe manner
- If an operator causes an accident or nearly causes an accident while operating a forklift
- If it’s determined that an operator is not competent
- If something in the workplace changes in a way that could affect the safety of the operator or others, such as new equipment or a new process
Despite the above, many employers still require their forklift operators to undergo regular refresher courses to maintain currency and improve the safety and health of their workplace.
A forklift must never be operated by an individual unless they’ve received adequate training. While the legislation from one jurisdiction to another can have subtle differences, training requirements remain fairly consistent.
One of the benefits of getting forklift certified is that it will improve the chances of an individual finding employment. Wherever an individual may be located, there are various types of businesses including airports, seaports, warehouses, factories and building sites that need qualified forklift operators. In short, forklift operators are and will always be in great demand.