According to an OSHA Powered Industrial Trucks (Forklifts) eTool:
Only trained and competent operators shall be permitted to operate a powered industrial truck.
But what are the OSHA forklift training requirements? When is a person eligible for an OSHA forklift certification?
We explain everything you need to know about OSHA forklift training in this article. So if you want to know the OSHA forklift certification requirements, strap on your seat belt and spend the next couple of minutes with us.
To be clear before you begin, OSHA DOES NOT give out forklift certifications. However, OSHA's Powered Industrial Trucks standard (29 CFR 1910.178) DOES explain the minimum requirements employers must meet in setting up the training requirements that their employees who operate forklifts and other PITs must meet.
OSHA spells out the OSHA forklift certification requirements for employee forklift training in 1910.178(l).
In the standard, OSHA requires employers to develop and implement a forklift operator training program. OSHA requires that the forklift training program be based on:
So the OSHA forklift training certification is really the employer's responsibility.
According to OSHA, forklift training:
...shall consist of a combination of formal instruction (e.g., lecture, discussion, interactive computer learning, video tape, written material), practical training (demonstrations performed by the trainer and practical exercises performed by the trainee), and evaluation of the operator's performance in the workplace.
As a result, it makes sense to use a a blended method of instruction that uses two or more of the instructional methods above. An online forklift safety training video like the one shown in the sample video below can be an effective way to set the scene for forklift training like this.
We've prepared an article explaining how to incorporate online forklift safety training into your overall forklift training certification program for you if you'd like to read more about that.
Before an employee can operate a forklift or other PIT in the workplace, the employer must evaluate the forklift operator's performance and determine if the employee can operate the forklift appropriately.
To be a fully trained and certified forklift operator, the employee must demonstrate that he can she can do the job:
Employers may benefit from using mobile training apps (like the one shown below) in the field while observing and evaluating this forklift operation demonstration. They're a great way of keeping records for this kind of safety training.
The OSHA forklift certification training an employer provides must include "truck-related topics" as explained in 29 CFR 1910.178(l)(3)(i).
These forklift-related training topics include:
Forklift operating training must also include workplace-related topics, as OSHA explains in 29 CFR 1910.178(l)(3)(ii).
These workplace-related topics to include in forklift operator training include:
In some cases, an employee may have received training on one or more of these workplace-related topics before entering forklift operator training. In these cases, and if the training is appropriate for the type of forklift (and/or PIT) the worker will operate and the conditions the forklift operator will work in, additional training is not required on that topic.
As you can see, that can mean keeping track of a lot of different kinds of training. A learning management system (LMS) for managing and keeping track of all that training, such as the one explained in the short video below, may be helpful for safety managers. This would be a godsend if you're trying to keep track of which employee's completed which of the OSHA forklift certification requirements (and when).
An employee receiving forklift training (a "trainee") may operate a forklift only:
It's up to the employer who provides employees with forklift operator training to provide the forklift training certification to employees who have completed the forklift training and are competent, certified forklift operators [as explained in 29 CFR 1910.178(l)(6)].
The certification provided by the employer must include the following information:
An employee's OSHA forklift certification isn't complete without a certification that matches these requirements.
Once an employer has certified that an employee has passed his or her forklift operator training, that OSHA forklift training certification isn't effective indefinitely. Instead, it expires after a period of time.
As explained in 9 CFR 1910.178(l)(2)(ii),
"Employers must also certify that each operator has received the training and evaluate each operator at least once every three years."
That refresher training must include an evaluation of the effectiveness of the training, and must ensure that the operator has the knowledge and skills necessary to operate the forklift safely--as explained in 29 CFR 1910.178(l)(4).
Don't forget about the cyclical refresher training that is such an important part of the OSHA forklift certification requirements.
As we just mentioned, the forklift operator certification is valid for a period of three (3) years until it expires.
Generally, it's not necessary for an employee to receive additional forklift operator training during that three-year period.
However, if a forklift operator demonstrates a deficient in the safe operation of the forklift, then refresher training is required. This type of refresher training is necessary when:
Keep employees up to date with these refresher training requirements arising from unsafe behavior to ensure you and they comply with all OSHA forklift certification requirements.
Refresher training is also necessary when:
Remember that employees must receive additional OSHA forklift training if these circumstances apply to keep on the right side of all OSHA forklift certification requirements.
You may also find the following resources about forklifts and forklift operation training helpful.
We've got some more articles about forklifts you may find helpful:
We've also got the following two online forklift operator courses available you may find helpful:
Before you go, download a copy of our helpful Safety Training Guide, below.