Whether you need to get yourself or the operators on your team forklift certified, you must understand what to do and what’s expected. Because forklifts are pieces of heavy equipment, they’re potentially dangerous if operated without the proper training and certification. Find out how to get forklift certified, how long training takes, and the answers to other frequently asked questions about forklift training.
Forklift drivers operate forklifts, which are a type of industrial machinery used to lift and transport heavy loads. Forklift drivers work in various warehouses, manufacturing facilities, construction sites, and other industrial operations. Workers use forklifts to lift pallets, heavy materials, and other large, bulky items. Forklifts have a high lift capacity, meaning they can lift and carry extremely heavy loads several feet in the air. For example, forklifts are often used in warehouses to lift heavy pallets on or off storage shelves.
Forklift uses differ from operation to operation, though one thing remains consistent — operators must be certified to operate a forklift. There are many ways to get certified, and requirements may vary from state to state, so it’s best to consult with your employer or a certified training program in your area.
Certification is important to ensure safety in the workplace. Luckily, forklift certification is relatively simple to get. Most employers that need forklift operators will provide certification classes internally or through a third-party certification program. Other employers may require certification before hiring an operator, so you may want to look for certification classes at a local forklift dealership, community colleges, online programs, or trade schools.
You’ll learn basic Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety rules, forklift-specific regulations, and how to operate the machine and conduct routine inspections. OSHA certification requires classroom and practical training, and then you must pass the forklift exam and evaluation:
Forklift operators must get recertified every three years to continue operating these machines. You also may need to get recertified if you were in a forklift accident or near-miss or are operating the machine dangerously, among other situations.
When you get forklift certified, you’ll need to specify which type or types of forklifts you’ll be operating. You must have certifications for each type of forklift you’ll operate. You can get certified in seven classes of forklifts:
If you need to operate a different type of forklift than usual, you’ll have to go through another class to get certified for the specific forklift. Avoid operating any machinery you’re not certified to use. Many employers are usually pretty good about giving operators time to obtain certification, though you should know what you can and can’t operate.
How long it takes you to get forklift certified ultimately depends on where you take your course and whether you have any prior forklift experience. Forklift training typically takes one to two days to complete and could be completed sooner. If you complete training with your employer, you may be able to get certified within six to eight hours if your instructor has the time to dedicate to your class. Training with a local certification program or trade school will likely depend on class availability.
Remember that only the classroom training can be completed online — you’d still need to find somewhere to complete practical training. The best online forklift certification programs should help you find somewhere to finish training, though this could lengthen the process.
If you have previous forklift experience or are getting recertified, you may be able to complete your training significantly faster. For example, a forklift operator with years of experience may only spend a couple of hours to get recertified. Luckily, you can complete forklift training relatively quickly compared to other types of industrial machines.
If you’re interested in forklift certification, you may have more questions. Here are the answers to several other frequently asked questions regarding forklift certification and a career as a forklift operator.
To maintain OSHA compliance, you must ensure your forklift operators are certified and remain certified while employed at your company. At Thompson Lift Truck, we do more than rent and sell forklifts and industrial equipment. We also provide forklift training materials to help you certify your operators. Whether your instructors use our materials or our professionals come to you, we’ll help you meet OSHA requirements.
To learn more about our forklift safety and training program, contact us today.