Operating a forklift requires specialized training, and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has very clear requirements for forklift operator training and licensing. Forklift operators must be older than 18 years old and must go through classroom training and pass a driving test. Because the rules are very specific, we’ve compiled a list of answers to frequently asked questions about forklift operation.

  • How has OSHA changed its powered industrial truck standard? The new standards require employers to develop a training program specific to the type of equipment to be operated and the working conditions encountered. Employers must evaluate the operator’s performance in the workplace and certify that each operator has received the training needed. Industries covered by the new standard are general industry, maritime, and construction.
  • What is meant by “powered industrial truck”? As defined by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), a powered industrial truck is a mobile, power-propelled truck used to carry, push, pull, lift, stack, or tier materials. These trucks, often called forklifts or lift trucks, can be ridden or controlled by a walking operator. Vehicles used for earth moving and over-the-road haulage are excluded from the OSHA standard.
  • What type of training is required for an operator to become a certified forklift operator? Training to become a certified forklift operator must include formal training, given through lectures, videos, and so on, as well as practical demonstrations and exercises. Truck-related and workplace-related topics must be included, and the course must include an evaluation of operator performance. Specific requirements are listed in the standard.
  • Where can an operator obtain such training? The employer must implement a training program and ensure that only trained drivers who have successfully completed this program operate powered industrial trucks. This training can be conducted by the employer, if qualified, or by an outside training organization.
  • Who is qualified to conduct this training? A person with necessary knowledge, training, and experience must conduct all training an evaluate operators’ competency. In some cases, this is the employer or even another employee, while in other cases an outside instructor is needed. The training and evaluation don’t need to be conducted by one single individual and can be conducted by several people, as long as each one is qualified. OSHA doesn’t approve or accredit training programs or trainers, so it’s up to the employer to make sure the training is in line with the OSHA standard. According to OSHA’s website, “An example of a qualified trainer would be a person who, by possession of a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing, or who by knowledge, training, and experience, has demonstrated the ability to train and evaluate powered industrial truck operators.”
  • When is refresher training required? There are times when refresher training and a new evaluation are necessary:
    • When an operator has been observed demonstrating a lack of ability to drive the forklift safely
    • When the operator has been involved in an accident or near-miss
    • When the operation of equipment has changed due to changes in the workplace
    • When an evaluation reveals that the operator is using equipment incorrectly
    • When the operator is required to drive a different type of truck
  • If an operator has already been trained as a powerful industrial truck operator, does that person need additional training under the new standard? As long as the operator has been evaluated and found competent, no further training is necessary.
  • What is meant by “certified”? Employers must certify that each of their operators has been trained and evaluated according to the OSHA standard. Each certification must include the operator’s name, date of training, date of evaluation, and identity of the person or persons conducting the training and evaluation.

If you need more information about OSHA and the new standards, contact your local or regional OSHA office, or visit the OSHA website. If you’re in the market for a forklift, look to Atlas Toyota, a company that has been internationally recognized and consistently ranked as one of the top privately held companies in Illinois for more than 60 years. We employ over 115 certified technicians with an average of 17 years’ experience working and four full-time Service Writers to make sure customers receive excellent service throughout their experience with us. In addition, we have a full-time trainer on staff, providing both safety and technical classes that allow customers to become certified forklift operators. When you’re ready to buy your next forklift, contact us for sales, service, and training you can trust.