What is OSHA Forklift Certification?


There are many dangers when it comes to running industrial vehicles on the jobsite. Forklifts —also referred to as powered industrial trucks— are no exception to such dangers. To operate a powered industrial truck, you must be certified and trained. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) put this rule in place to prevent injury or damage to people on the jobsite and equipment.

Since OSHA is the overarching governing body when it comes to workers in construction and the strictly enforced methods of preventing harm, its rules are taken very seriously. As a result, there are plenty of companies and services that offer forklift certification to workers, but it is important to find an OSHA-authorized certification course. OSHA’s website provides a helpful description of what forklift operators need to know and best practices in a forklift eTool. Those who want to get certified to operate a forklift should understand a few things.

Who Needs OSHA Forklift Certification?

There is a large pool of individuals who need to be forklift certified in order to operate such machinery. While forklifts are often used for construction purposes, they are also used in warehouses and stores that you might not expect. Not all forklifts are the same and the variety that requires certification includes Class I through Class VII. With such a wide assortment of forklift types, there are many differing hazards to consider and be aware of. OSHA also notes that with different powered industrial trucks come different work environments. Each environment has its risks and obstacles that an operator would need to be alert to and take into consideration.

It is important to note that all operators must be at least 18 years old. It is Federal law that anyone operating a forklift must be 18 years or older. Of course, it is also against the law to have anyone operate a forklift who is not certified to do so. Therefore, everyone who wants to and is going to operate a powered industrial truck must be properly certified.

What OSHA Forklift Certification Training Entails

The training for a forklift certification consists of quite a few layers. Some of the different areas that OSHA-compliant forklift training will cover include:

●     Basic principles

●     Handling loads

●     Safe driving

●     Vehicle inspection

●     Recharging/refueling

Other than learning how to properly operate a forklift and take care of it, there are some additional topics that are important when getting certified to use the machine. Many of these topics are listed in OSHA’s eTool Training Requirements section.

How to Get Forklift Certified

There are tons of resources online to get you or your employees certified to operate a forklift. In addition to the online resources, there are some in-person/on-site opportunities. Employers may provide you with certification pathways or give you advice on how to find an OSHA-compliant course.

The certification training courses are typically about $50 and are mostly available online. It is easy to enroll in a course and get going once you have picked the right one for you. As a word of advice, we recommend that you do your own research and always ask an employer for recommendations —if you can— when looking to get forklift certified.

Other Resources for OSHA Forklift Certification

The OSHA website itself is a great resource for aiding in your education of correct forklift operation. OSHA’s website provides details on the basic rules of operating a forklift and gives a rundown on each step. This section also contains important inspection details when it comes to operating the machine.

Along with getting properly certified, operators need to be continuously refreshed on the rules and methods of working with a powered industrial truck. According to OSHA, certified drivers need to be evaluated on their performance every three years. If the driver’s operation is determined to be unsafe, they must receive refresher training and then be reevaluated. Refresher training may also be conducted if the driver is being assigned to operate a different type of forklift.

OSHA has put these training and certification rules in place to better protect everyone on construction sites and the equipment. Not only can improperly operating an industrial truck impede the safety of the operators and the workers around them but it can also be dangerous to bystanders and their property. Safety is to be taken very seriously and training and certification rules must be followed. The OSHA-enacted guidelines for forklift certification are the standard for the industry and is the way to best ensure that operators are properly educated and as safe as possible.

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