Who Should Get Forklift Training and Certification?

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Whether your crew members use forklifts in warehouse settings or at job sites, they need to know how to use the equipment correctly. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires workers to comply with its training standards. These standards ensure workplace safety and correct forklift use. Learn what standard forklift training programs include, find out who certifies training, and know who should get a forklift certification.

What Does a Forklift Training Program Include?

No matter who leads your company’s forklift training program, it should focus on compliance with OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.178. To comply, all forklift training programs should have three distinct parts. They need formal instruction, practical training, and professional evaluation.

Training Basics

The formal training part can include classroom or video lessons. It can also include software-based lessons or even online teaching. The practical part should include hands-on teaching and demos, along with supervised forklift use. Your crew has to do these in person instead of online. A trainer also has to evaluate workers in person instead of online.

Forklift training also has to cover a few important concepts. Any good forklift training certification program should focus on the right vehicle type. That means it should center on the forklift that the operator will be using in the workplace.

What Forklift Operators Should Be Learning

Forklift operators should learn basic operating instructions. They should also learn standard warnings for using the forklift. Operators should learn how using the forklift differs from driving a car. They should also learn where the forklift controls are, what they do, and how to use them.

During a training program, operators should learn how to steer and guide the forklift. They should know how to use the forklift in a range of conditions. They should also know how to use the forks or any other attachments. Operators should learn how to load and unload a range of cargo types safely.

The training program should teach operators about the forklift’s capacity. They should also know about visibility problems or other limits. Operators should learn about basic inspections and maintenance. They should also know how to recharge or refuel the forklift.

Most forklift certification programs focus on using the equipment. They should also help operators get familiar with the workplace itself. Naturally, the workplace has a big impact on the safe use and potential dangers.

OSHA recommends that operators know the surface conditions where they will be using the forklift. This includes ramps and grades, too. Operators should know if these present dangers.

Operators should also learn about the physical makeup of the cargo they will be moving. They should know if this has any impact on keeping loads stable. Operators should also know how to load, unload, and move cargo in their workplace.

Forklift training programs should teach operators where the forklift can go safely. This includes which aisles or other areas are too narrow or are restricted. Operators should also learn how to deal with other traffic, such as people and vehicles. They should know right-of-way rules in the workplace.

Good forklift training programs should make sure that operators know basic ventilation rules, too. This helps avoid dangerous or unhealthy conditions.

Also, the best training programs help operators become aware of hazards. This helps operators find problems and strive to stay safe. This type of approach helps operators take more responsibility for their safety.

You should also know what OSHA’s forklift training standards don’t require. Your company can have basic medical standards that ensure that operators don’t pose a threat to other workers or the workplace. Outside of these standards, your company doesn’t have to test for medical status. You also don’t have to test forklift operators’ vision or hearing.

Who Certifies Forklift Training?

OSHA requires operators to finish training before using a forklift in the workplace. OSHA doesn’t certify workers who have finished these programs. Along the same lines, OSHA doesn’t approve third-party companies to provide training. Many private businesses have great forklift training programs and classes. These companies can’t certify that workers have finished training programs.

Above all, OSHA requires employers and temp agencies to certify their workers directly. These records should include the worker’s name, training date, evaluation date, and the name of the person who conducted the training or evaluation.

Your company should keep digital and paper records. This makes for easy reference. It can help the company prove which workers have finished the training.

Many third-party forklift training providers also give certificates and wallet cards. These confirm the date that each worker has finished the training program. OSHA doesn’t require these cards, but they can help workers track and confirm their training.

Though OSHA doesn’t certify training programs, the group does have basic guidance for picking good trainers. OSHA requires trainers to have adequate knowledge of the equipment. They should also have experience using the forklift. They must also know the environment to train operators. Trainers may work for the same company that employs the operators. They can also work for third-party companies.

Training contractors is a separate issue. Both temp agencies and companies that hire contractors are jointly responsible for training. Contractor agreements between the two parties can clarify. They can assign training responsibilities to one company or confirm that both have to certify training.

Who Needs Forklift Training?

Anyone who will use a forklift on the job needs training. All workers who will use forklifts must know how to use them safely. As a general rule, warehouse workers and other manual laborers need forklift training. This includes all employees, contractors, and temporary workers who need to use forklifts on the job.

Employers and temp agencies should note that all forklift operators must be at least 18 years of age. No employees or contractors under 18 can use a forklift.

Your company might already have a good forklift training program for entry-level workers. But what about experienced workers you hire later in their careers? If your company looks for workers who already know what they’re doing, you might not need a basic training program.

You might not have to train experienced workers. You should evaluate their performance when they join the team. Then you can decide if they need training for a new forklift. They might also need the training to get to know your company’s warehouse or jobsite.

Your company should also think about providing basic forklift safety programs. These are for employees who don’t have to use forklifts. These programs can make all workers aware of forklifts in the workplace. It can also help workers avoid forklifts and stay safe.

These programs aren’t required, but they can improve the safety record of your facility. They can also reduce the frequency of workplace accidents. After all, pedestrians are involved in 36 percent of forklift accidents.

How Often Do You Need Forklift Operator Training?

The current OSHA standard went into effect in 1999. It states that any worker hired before December 1, 1999, must have done forklift training by that date. All operators hired or contracted after that date should do training before using a forklift in the workplace.

While proper training is required before using a forklift, most operators don’t need annual training. They might not even need refreshers every few years.

Instead, OSHA makes the employer responsible. Your company should reevaluate forklift operators’ performance every three years. After three years, your company’s forklift trainer might decide that your operators fully comply with OSHA standards. If that happens, they don’t need more training.

However, forklift operators may need extra training outside of the standard three-year evaluation. For instance, OSHA regulation requires more training before operators begin using a new type of forklift. Many forklift manufacturers and models rely on controls that are nearly the same, but operators should always finish their training before using a new type of forklift in the field.

Along the same lines, OSHA requires aerial equipment operators to finish a refresher training course when shifting to a new kind of environment. They should also have more training when the workplace changes in any way. For instance, operators should finish a new training program if the warehouse layout changes. They should also have training if the industrial traffic rules at the job site have changed in any way.

Also, poor performance on the job or poor evaluations mean that operators need updated training sessions. OSHA requires forklift operators to retrain after an accident or a near-miss on the job.

Operators must do an updated training session if they show that they can’t use the equipment safely. They must also retrain if an evaluation shows that their forklift usage isn’t up to industry standards. Employers can provide more forklift training as they see fit.

Whether you have a full-time crew or you contract temporary workers, it’s up to you to make sure that your team complies with OSHA standards. It’s also up to you to make sure that your crew has access to the latest forklift technology. Call BigRentz at (888) 325-5172 for same-day rentals, or you can book a┬áday, week, or month-long forklift rentals online.


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