How to Get Forklift Certification

How to Get Forklift Certification

forklift certification

What is a forklift?

Forklift certification helps keep operators and those working in areas used by forklift and other powered industrial trucks safe. A powered industrial truck or forklift is a mobile, powered truck that you can use to lift, carry, stack, push or pull materials. Some may be designed to carry personnel and equipment. Using powered industrial trucks, such as forklifts, safely enables operators to lift, carry, stack, push or pull materials that are too large or cumbersome to move by hand.

Why is forklift certification important?

Forklift operation is one of the top causes of workplace injuries in the United States. Every year there are over 35,000 injuries and incidents involving forklifts. Out of those, in 2020, there were 7,290 injuries and illnesses involving days away from work, and 78 fatalities. Compared to other causes of injuries, forklift incidents also result in longer work absences: while a typical injury or illness would result in a 12 day absence from work, an incident involving forklifts on average causes 15 days away from work for the employee. This creates a significant burden on the operation of the employers, as well as financial stress to the company.

Forklift Work-related Injuries and Fatalities

What is forklift certification?

OSHA standard 1910.178 requires employers to ensure all forklift operators are trained and certified. To become certified, employees must go through a three-part training: formal instruction, practical training, and a performance evaluation.

Only after completing all three parts of the OSHA forklift training requirements, you can become certified to operate forklifts.

What are forklift certification requirements?

There are three parts of training required in order to get certified and be able to operate forklift trucks:

Part 1: Formal instruction

Our Forklift Safety course satisfies the formal instruction part of the OSHA certification process. You can complete this training 100% online and will be able to download your Certificate of Completion immediately to provide to your employer as a proof you have completed the training. The Certificate of Completion can be verified via a QR code included on the certificate. Your wallet size plastic Forklift Safety certification card will be mailed to you within 3-5 days after course completion.

Step 2: Practical training

Your employer is required to provide practical, hands-on training on the forklift that you will be using in your workplace. They also have to provide training on specific hazards that you may encounter in your workplace. Training must be provided by a qualified person certified to train powered industrial truck operators.

Step 3: Performance evaluation

Your employer must evaluate your performance as a forklift operator. The employer would provide an Evaluation Form that the qualified instructor will complete, and sign, at which point you will become a certified forklift operator.

Is online forklift training accepted by OSHA?

Yes. Online training is accepted by OSHA for fulfilling the formal instruction part of the certification process. You still have to complete the hands-on training and performance evaluation that has to be provided by your employer.

Is forklift certification required in all industries?

Yes, you must be a certified forklift operator to be allowed to operate a forklift truck or any other powered industrial truck. PDH STAR online training is acceptable for General and Construction industries covered by OSHA standards 1910.178 and 1926.602.

How old do I need to be to operate a forklift?

You must be at least 18 years old to drive and operate a forklift.

Is a driver license required to operate a forklift?

OSHA does not require forklift operators to have a driver license. Your employer may have their own requirements and may require you to have or obtain a driver license.

How long does forklift certification last?

Forklift certification is valid for 3 years. After your certification expires, you must be re-evaluated by your employer in order to stay certified. It is recommended that all forklift operators complete formal instruction as part of their refresher training every 3 years.

What is the refresher training required for forklift operator?

Refresher training, including an evaluation of the effectiveness of that training, must be conducted to ensure that the operator has the knowledge and skills needed to operate the powered industrial truck safely. The evaluation and refresher training needs to be repeated every three your or sooner when:

  • The operator has been observed to operate the vehicle in an unsafe manner.
  • The operator has been involved in an accident or near-miss incident.
  • The operator has received an evaluation that reveals that the operator is not operating the truck safely.
  • The operator is assigned to drive a different type of truck, or
  • A condition in the workplace changes in a manner that could affect safe operation of the truck.

What are the most common forklift hazards?

Forklift operation can become a dangerous activity if proper operating and maintenance procedures are not followed. Most common hazards related to forklift operation include:

  • Transportation incidents
  • Struck by objects
  • Falls, slips, trips
  • Struck against objects
  • Caught in between
  • Overexertion

The chart below shows the distribution of accidents related to each of the above categories.

Forklift Incidents

Where can I get forklift training?

PDH STAR Forklift Safety online training course satisfies the “formal instruction” part of the OSHA training requirements for forklift operators. The practical training (demonstrations performed by the trainer and practical exercises performed by the trainee), and evaluation of the operator’s performance in the workplace must be provided by your employer. The training provided by your employer must be based on the actual make and model of the industrial truck / forklift you will be operating, and must cover all specific hazards likely to be present in your workplace. Only after completing and passing the evaluation by your employer, can you become certified as a forklift operator.


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