Forklift Operator Certification

Who must get a Forklift Operator Certification?

Anyone over 18 years of age who operates a powered industrial lift truck must be certified by their employer to do so. The federal office of OSHA does not at this time require a formal government evaluation or test, but they do require employers to train and evaluate their employees' ability to handle the forklifts or lift trucks. Some states follow federal guidelines, others have more specific guidelines that may require further training or government certification, so it is always best to check with your local OSHA office for your state's requirements. An employer is required to keep written documentation including the name of the operator who is being certified, the date of the training and evaluation, the name of the trainer and the name of the person doing the evaluation.

Persons under 18 years of age are not allowed to operate Powered Industrial Lift Trucks.

Do I have to take a test to get a Forklift Certification?


That depends on your state and your employer. At the least, OSHA requires that your employer give you training that may include video, written materials, and practical exams that allows you to demonstrate your knowledge of safe truck handling. This training includes more than just how to drive a lift truck. You must also learn how to avoid specific hazards, safe driving in different warehouse or store environments, load capacities, and other necessary safety training.

How long does a Forklift Certification last?


An employer is required to keep records of evaluations and certifications for three years. Generally, it is not required for an employee to retrain and retest every three years, but the employer must show written evidence that an employee has been evaluated at least every three years. You must also be re-evaluated if you are involved in an accident or near-miss with a lift truck, have been shown to operate a forklift in an unsafe manner, or will be using a truck you are not familiar with. Your employer will be required to keep a written record of all forklift incidents you are involved with.

I am applying for a job. Can I get a Forklift Certification from someone other than my employer?


There are a number of online schools where you can get training and a formal certification to drive a powered lift truck for a nominal fee. Some schools will even provide different certifications for different types of lift truck vehicles. These certifications are good every three years, and are also offered to employers at a group discount for multiple employees if the employer chooses not to have their own training program.
I will be operating a lift truck in a warehouse that store hazardous chemicals. Do I need more than a Forklift Operators Certification?

It is best to check with OSHA and your state government offices to see what they require when working with hazardous chemicals. They may require you to get a HAZMAT certification in addition to your Forklift Operators Certification, which you may be able to obtain through your employer.

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