Forklift Training – Step by Step

What is involved in forklift training? What do you actually do when you pursue your forklift certification? There are no set answers to such questions because of several key factors:

  • Forklift training is often done in one of two ways – For those who are working in construction, and for “general” training.
  • People learn in two ways – They may get their training through their employer’s program or they may attend a trade school to get their forklift certification.
  • People can get preliminary training online – You cannot (repeat – CANNOT) get your official forklift training and certification entirely through a website or online program. That does not exist. You can, however, start your studying through an online venue and then get your field certification through a training course.
  • Some people take dual training at once – There are some people who get their initial forklift certification at the same time that they are pursuing their certification to train others to use a forklift in a professional setting.

So, as you can see, there is no one answer to the question of what is involved in forklift training. However, we can tell you that there is a very common pathway, and we suggest that you most definitely follow it.

  1. Seek a company or school that is “OSHA compliant”, and enroll for your forklift certification. If you are attending a trade school, just make sure that their program is done with OSHA compliance, if you are training through an employer, make sure that the instructor is OSHA certified.
  2. Take the mandatory classroom training. This will require at least four hours, but may be more depending on any subsequent training or certification needed. Your initial training is going to focus on forklift safety, and emphasize the many OSHA regulations for using forklifts. You may then have to get other OSHA certifications for construction sites or chemicals, etc.
  3. Take the formal OSHA forklift certification exam, which is a written test. When you pass, you are then given hands-on training as a forklift operator. This means you will spend a day or more learning how to use the machine according to the specific needs of your industry.
  4. Once you have been given the classroom training, passed the exam, received the hands on training, and undergone a field assessment by the instructor, you will be considered certified and be issued your initial “card”.
  5. The card or initial certification is traditionally valid for three years and then you will need to get recertified per OSHA requirements.

After all of this, you can then start to seek out forklift jobs for your industry.

OSHA Explained

We did not yet take much time to explain why OSHA is such a major part of your forklift license procedure. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration does not just focus on forklifts or certification – it looks at a huge number of industries and sets rules for safety and health on the job.

You may not believe that your future career as a forklift truck operator is something in which health and safety are going to be issues, but you must know that forklift operation is listed as a hazardous occupation by the Fair Labor Standards Act. This is because almost any big machine presents increased threat of accident. However, the use of proper operating procedures and forklift safety practices tends to reduce or even eliminate these risks.

And it is the work of OSHA to design those operating procedures and safety practices to ensure people using forklifts remain safe. It is not only the forklift operator in jeopardy, it is everyone in the workplace. So, when you get your forklift driver certification, be sure it is from an OSHA resource to ensure you have optimal forklift safety training too.