Guide to Forklift Certification

Guide to Forklift Certification

A forklift certification is an official document proving a forklift operator has completed the training and evaluation needed to drive a lift truck safely. Every forklift operator must complete forklift certification to follow Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements.

Read our forklift certification guide to learn how to certify your operators for safety and compliance.

Importance of Forklift Training

Per OSHA requirements, forklift training is mandatory for all operators to decrease the chance of accidents. Forklifts are powerful equipment, so comprehensive training helps operators understand how to use them and provides information on the risks involved and how to mitigate them.

Besides legal compliance, requiring forklift certification lets you avoid the risks of untrained operators using your equipment. The following are a few potential consequences of allowing inexperienced users to operate your forklifts:

  • Injuries, accidents or fatalities for the operator and pedestrians
  • Legal action
  • Imprisonment
  • OSHA fines up to $250,000
  • Damaged materials, goods and equipment
  • Poor company reputation

Benefits of Forklift Certification

Forklift certification for your operators offers several benefits, including:

  • Fewer accidents: Training teaches your operators how to drive the forklift safely, decreasing the chance of an accident.
  • Long equipment life span: Certification training includes regular inspections for forklifts. These inspections can catch problems with your equipment, letting you make repairs sooner so your lift trucks can last longer.
  • Higher productivity: Reduced accidents and more efficient forklift operation can lead to better productivity rates.
  • Legal compliance: Since certification is legally mandatory, your business will comply with OSHA regulations and avoid the risks of noncompliance.
  • Improved employee morale: Forklift certification encourages safe practices. Since training is required to access material handling equipment, your employees can be confident your forklift operators will use them properly. When your team understands and practices safety, morale improves.

How to Get Forklift Certification

Forklift certification consists of three components:

  1. Formal instruction: Instruction includes lectures, discussions, training videos and written materials.
  2. Practical training: The trainer leads demonstrations, and the trainee completes practical exercises.
  3. Evaluation: The trainer evaluates the trainee's workplace performance once the formal instruction and practical training are complete. A common evaluation method is a written test.

Forklift drivers must complete a training program corresponding to the type of forklift they'll be operating and the conditions they'll work in to get the certification. The following factors determine the amount and type of training the driver will need:

  • Operator's skills and prior knowledge
  • Types of powered industrial trucks the operator will use
  • Workplace hazards
  • Operator's ability to safely run a powered industrial truck

OSHA has lists of recommended truck-related and workplace-related topics to cover in training. Your training should address every subject area applicable to your business. Operators can typically become certified for forklifts in one to two days depending on the training program.

Once forklift operators have completed their training, they will receive a certificate of achievement as verification. You can also consider giving your drivers forklift licenses, like a physical wallet card, though OSHA does not require them.

Your business must keep forklift training records on file for three years. These documents include data such as:

  • Operator name
  • Training dates
  • Evaluation date
  • Trainer name(s)

FAQs About the Forklift Certification Process

Read these FAQs to learn more about how forklift certification works:

Where Can I Get Certified for Forklift Operation?

Your business must provide training or work with a third party to train and certify your forklift operators. Operators can get forklift certification from several entities:

  • Truck manufacturers
  • Vocational and trade schools
  • Local chapters of safety organizations like the National Safety Council
  • Private consultants with forklift expertise

These organizations may offer these training services:

  • Off-site training at their business
  • On-site training at your business
  • Off- and on-site hybrid
  • Online courses with in-person evaluation
  • Train-the-trainer programs

How Long Does Forklift Certification Last?

A forklift certification lasts for three years. At this time, forklift operators must complete a performance evaluation to keep their certification. These evaluations are much like the initial training.

Do Forklift Operators Need Regular Training?

Besides the regular evaluations, operators must also take refresher training if they:

  • Had a near-miss incident or accident.
  • Are assigned to run a different type of truck.
  • Are determined to need more training based on an evaluation.
  • Have been operating the vehicle unsafely.
  • Need to learn how to safely operate the vehicle based on workplace changes.

Contact The Cat® Rental Store for Your Forklift Rental

Once your operators have their forklift certification, they'll need reliable lift trucks. The Cat® Rental Store has more than 1,300 locations worldwide, and these dealers have a wide range of forklifts for rent.

Your local Cat dealer will help you find the right forklift for your business. Speak with one of our representatives at The Cat Rental Store near you. For more information about our rentals, call 1-800-RENT-CAT.

Find The Cat Rental Store Near You

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