Forklift Training Program Guide

In order to have properly trained and certified forklift operators, your organization needs its very own OSHA compliant forklift training program. Don’t worry, while this is serious business, it’s not as scary as it sounds. This article breaks down what you need to know to implement your own safe, successful, and OSHA compliant forklift training program.

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Before you get too deep into this process it’s important to consider the purpose of the training guidelines put forth by the OSHA. Forklift operation can be a very dangerous job and the safety of your employees should be the most important thing on your mind. That is the real purpose of ensuring your staff knows how to properly operate the machinery, understands some of the more danger situations they could be put in, and what they should do in those situations.

The good news is the OSHA does a decent job spelling out what you need to do. If you want to read the complete OSHA standards documentation you can here. But our goal is to make it easy on you.

A Guide to creating your forklift training program

During the training process, trainees may operate the machinery as long as they do so under the supervision of someone with experience and assuming the trainee is not put in any danger.

Your training program needs to be administered by someone who is an experienced and knowledgeable forklift operator and your program needs to consist of the following forms of training: formal instruction (like a lecture or video), practical training (like a demonstration), and evaluation of truck operation in the workplace.

The topics you need to cover:

The truck:

  • The forklift’s operating instructions, warnings, and precautions for the types of trucks the operator will be authorized to operate and the differences between the truck and an automobile.
  • Truck controls – where they are located, what they do, and how they work. Engine or motor operation including steering, maneuvering and visibility when hauling a load.
  • The fork and attachment adaptation, operation, and use limitations including it’s capacity and stability.
  • Any vehicle inspection and maintenance that the operator will be required to perform, including refueling or battery changing.

The workplace:

  • The surface conditions, pedestrian traffic, narrow aisles, sloped surfaces, hazardous locations and other restricted places where the vehicle will be operated.
  • How to manipulate a load including stacking, and unstacking. The composition of loads to be carried and load stability.
  • Closed environments and other areas where insufficient ventilation or poor vehicle maintenance could cause a buildup of carbon monoxide or diesel exhaust.

Evaluation and refresher training:

Every forklift operator who works for you needs to evaluated at least once every three years to ensure their ability to operate the machine in the workplace is adequate.

A forklift operator will require refresher training if they have been observed to be operating a truck unsafely, if there was an accident or near-miss, if they receive an evaluation that shows they are operating the forklift unsafely, if a condition in the workplace changes, or if the operator is assigned to a different type of truck.

Forklift certification:

As an employer you need to certify that each forklift operator has been training and evaluated. The certification document needs to display the operator’s full name, the date of the training, the date of the evaluation, and the name of the person who performed the training and evaluation.

Below you’ll find a certification template that you are welcome to use.

Forklift Certification Template