What is Involved in Forklift Certification?

To get forklift training you have to be sure that it is OSHA certified. That means that the organization offering the training (either a workplace or trade school) is relying on an OSHA certified instructor.

Why is OSHA involved in forklift certification? It all has to do with forklift safety.

Remember that OSHA means “Occupational Safety and Health Administration,” and that it is a sort of umbrella organization for a lot of different industrial safety standards. Because almost every imaginable industry needs the use of forklifts, or “powered industrial lift truck operators”, OSHA is the group that ensures the operators are skilled, knowledgeable and competent.

You Must Get Complete Forklift Training

When you go for forklift training it is going to be either through your employer or through a course at a trade school. Many people read or hear that they can get forklift certification online, and while they can take tests and learn regulations online, they will not be able to get an actual forklift license until they have been evaluate by a fully qualified trainer.

A brief outline of what you will do to get full forklift training looks like this:

  1. Find a company or school that is OSHA compliant, and enroll for your forklift certification.
  2. Take the mandatory classroom training. This is at least four hours, but may be more. It emphasizes forklift safety, and reviews the many OSHA regulations for using forklifts.
  3. The student is then given the official OSHA forklift exam, and if they pass, they are then provided with their hands-on training as a forklift operator. This means they learn how to use the machine, control it, and how to implement forklift safety for all loads.
  4. Once the classroom work is done, the test passed, and the forklift driver demonstrates mastery of the use of the machinery, they can be given their certification. This is a document or card that allows them to accept forklift jobs.
  5. The certification is usually good for three years and then the driver must get re-certified through a classroom course and subsequent test.

So, as you can see, it is not a small thing to drive a forklift truck and obtain certification. This is because this equipment is in charge of moving large and heavy objects in a diversity of settings. It is not only the driver’s life at stake but all of those around them.

This is why certification has to be renewed every three years, but the drivers are not the only ones who must demonstrate their expertise. Those who OSHA certifies as trainers will also have to become re-certified every few years as well. They too must undergo classroom and field training, and they must show that they have memorized all of the OSHA rules and regulations.

Remember too that there is often a division in training. There are construction forklift operators and then there are “general” operators. The differences are substantial, and it pays to understand this as you start looking for training and a job. For example, if you are comfortable navigating a busy construction site, then you may want to pursue this sort of setting. However, if that intimidates you, it might be a wiser idea to get training for warehouse or other types of forklift work. This will allow you to enjoy the work without further stress of big machinery working around you.

Either way, you do need the OSHA compliant training before you can begin to work, but do remember that your potential employer may be willing to supply this training.