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Want to Drive a Forklift? You Need Training

Posted on 7/26/2018 by Joel Gregier, CDGP

Driving a forklift can be a dangerous task, and an employee cannot just jump on a forklift and drive around a work site without any problems. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has training requirements for all operators who use a forklift. The point of the training is to make sure the forklift driver is able to safely do his or her job.

But what forklift training does OSHA require?


Is Forklift Training Mandatory?

Anyone driving a forklift, known in the regulations as a “powered industrial truck,” must get trained on how to do it properly. There’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Forklift training rules can be found at 29 CFR 1910.178(l).

Specifically, the regulations state that forklift drivers must be competent “as demonstrated by the successful completion of training and evaluation.” [29 CFR 1910.178(l)(1)(i)]


Can I Train Myself?

OSHA requires that training be done under the direct supervision of persons who have the knowledge, training, and experience to train operators and evaluate their competence. Thus, you will need to be trained by an “expert” at your site who has experience with forklifts.


What Kind of Training Does OSHA Accept? 

To ensure forklift drivers are getting the full picture, training must be provided in a variety of formats. This will consist of formal instruction, such as lecture, discussion, web-based or online learning, video tape, or written materials. But it will also require practical training, such as demonstrations provided by the trainer and practical exercises done by the trainee.

Get a clear view of what’s required under OSHA’s Forklift Standard and teach employees the basics they must know to choose, inspect and operate the right powered industrial truck for any job. The Forklift Safety Online Course is available at Lion.com  


What Topics Have to Be Covered in Training?

When receiving initial training, potential drivers need to be trained in two areas: truck-related topics and workplace-related topics.

Truck-related topics include:
  • Operating instructions, warnings, and precautions for the types of truck the operator will be authorized to operate.
  • Differences between a truck and an automobile.
  • Truck controls and instrumentation: where they are located, what they do, and how they work.
  • Engine or motor operation.
  • Steering and maneuvering.
  • Visibility (including restrictions due to loading).
  • Fork and attachment adaptation, operation, and use limitations.
  • Vehicle capacity.
  • Vehicle stability.
  • Any vehicle inspection and maintenance that the operator will be required to perform.
  • Refueling and/or charging and recharging of batteries.
  • Operating limitations.
  • Any other operating instructions, warnings, or precautions listed in the operator’s manual for the types of vehicle that the employee is being trained to operate.
Workplace-related topics include:
  • Surface conditions where the vehicle will be operated.
  • Composition of loads to be carried and load stability.
  • Load manipulation, stacking, and unstacking.
  • Pedestrian traffic in areas where the vehicle will be operated.
  • Narrow aisles and other restricted places where the vehicle will be operated.
  • Hazardous (classified) locations where the vehicle will be operated.
  • Ramps and other sloped surfaces that could affect the vehicle’s stability.
  • Closed environments and other areas where insufficient ventilation or poor vehicle maintenance could cause a buildup of carbon monoxide or diesel exhaust.
  • Other unique or potentially hazardous environmental conditions in the workplace that could affect safe operation.
Note: If the employer can demonstrate that any of the above topics are not applicable to the workplace, then they do not have to be covered in the training.


Does OSHA Require Recurrent Forklift Training After My Initial?

Unlike other safety regulations, there is no specific time frame for when forklift operators need refresher training. So rather than getting trained every year or two years, for instance, the employer has to make the call on whether retraining is needed.

However, there are a few scenarios that do trigger refresher training. They include:
  1. The operator has been observed to operate the vehicle in an unsafe manner.
  2. The operator has been involved in an accident or near-miss incident.
  3. The operator has received an evaluation that reveals that the operator is not operating the truck safely.
  4. The operator is assigned to drive a different type of truck.
  5. A condition in the workplace changes in a manner that could affect safe operation of the truck.
One thing that employers should note is that they do need to conduct an evaluation of their forklift drivers every three years. The conclusion of the evaluation could be that “drivers don’t need more training,” but employers still need to do the evaluation.


Documenting OSHA Forklift Training

Obviously, OSHA does not just take your word that you have received training, so as always, you will need to document that it actually happened. In particular, OSHA wants a certification by the employer that includes:
  • The name of the operator.
  • The date of the training.
  • The date of the evaluation.
  • The identity of the person(s) performing the training or evaluation.

Effective Online OSHA Safety Training

Protect your employees with expertly designed, convenient OSHA training. Available 24/7, these interactive OSHA safety training courses help employees identify, mitigate, and avoid the hazards in your workplace. Employees who complete OSHA training at Lion.com are ready to make on-the-job decisions that keep themselves and their co-workers safe.

Tags: forklift, Forklift training, osha, OSHA training, safety training

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