"Safe and Productive Forklift Operation is Our Goal"

FREQUENTLY  ASKED  QUESTIONS

Frequently Asked Questions About
Powered Industrial Truck Training

1.  Does the Federal or state government OSHA certify forklift instructors?

2.  Does the Federal or state government certify forklift operators? 

3.  The person I just hired has a card that states that they have passed a forklift training class, and it has the word “certified” on the card.  Does that mean that he can go right to work driving, or do I have to put him through training?

4.  I am looking for a job as a forklift operator.  Can I take a class and get “certified”?

5.  What is the definition of a powered industrial truck?

6.  What does the new standard require?

7.  Does OSHA provide a list of topics to include in my training program?

8.  Who should conduct the training?

9.  My employees receive training from the union on the use of powered industrial trucks. Will I have to provide any additional training?

10.  Does OSHA require the employer to issue licenses to employees who have received training?

11.  What type of records or documentation must I keep?

12.  How long must I keep the certification records?

13.  If my employees receive training, but accidents still continue to occur, what should I do?

14.  Is annual training required?

15.  How often must refresher training be given?

16.  If my employees have already received training, or have been operating trucks for many years, must I retrain them?

17.  Will I have to train all employees in my workplace?

18.  Will I have to ensure that my operator’s are physically capable of driving a powered industry truck?

19.  I have three different types of trucks in my workplace. Can I provide training on just one type of truck?

20.  I only have powered hand trucks in my workplace. Do the training requirements cover the operators of this type of vehicle?

21.  I employ drivers from a temporary agency. Who will provide them training -the temporary service or me?

22.  Should my training include the use of operator restraint devices (e.g. seat belts)?

1.  Does the Federal or state government OSHA certify forklift instructors?

No, certification of instructors is left up to private industry to develop, offer, and maintain training programs for forklift Instructors.  There is no federal or state sponsored Instructor certification.

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2.  Does the Federal or state government certify forklift operators?

No,  There is no such thing as an “OSHA Certified Operator”.  OSHA provides the law requiring the training, but it is the employer’s responsibility to see to it that anyone that operates a powered industrial truck in the workplace has had the relevant classroom training and has been evaluated in the workplace operating the same truck or one equipped just like it, in the workplace.  This can be accomplished either by the employer doing the training, or by  bringing in a qualified forklift training provider. 

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3.  The person I just hired has a card that states that they have passed a forklift training class, and it has the word “certified” on the card.  Does that mean that he can go right to work driving, or do I have to put him through training?

Just because the person has had training at another company or from another source does not relieve the new employer from the responsibility of seeing to it that the operator has been adequately trained and evaluated.  The new employer must review that material with the new hire and must evaluate the operator’s performance in the new facility on each truck type that the operator will be expected to use.  Specific coverage of any hazards of the new workplace or equipment must be covered.  If any doubt exists as to the previous training of the newly hired person, put him or her through a class and make certain they pass a driving evaluation in the workplace before they are allowed to operate.

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4.  I am looking for a job as a forklift operator.  Can I take a class and get “certified”?

You can take a class to learn and become familiar with lift trucks, but certification can only occur after you have been hired and passed training and evaluation on the forklift(s) you will use to do your job in the workplace.  Certification is site, equipment and employer specific, not generic in nature.

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5.  What is the definition of a powered industrial truck?

Any mobile power-propelled truck used to carry, push, pull, lift, stack or tier materials. Powered industrial trucks can be ridden or controlled by a walking operator. Earth moving and over the road haulage trucks are not included in the definition. Equipment that was designed to move earth but has been modified to accept forks are also not included.

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6.  What does the new standard require?

The new standard requires employers to develop and implement a training program based on the general principles of safe truck operation, the types of vehicle(s) being used in the workplace, the hazards of the workplace created by the use of the vehicle(s), and the general safety requirements of the OSHA standard. Trained operators must know how to do the job properly and do it safely as demonstrated by workplace evaluation. Formal (lecture, video, etc.) and practical (demonstration and practical exercises) training must be provided. Employers must also certify that each operator has received the training and evaluate each operator at least once every three years. Prior to operating the truck in the workplace, the employer must evaluate the operator’s performance and determine the operator to be competent to operate a powered industrial truck safely. Refresher training is needed whenever an operator demonstrates a deficiency in the safe operation of the truck.

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7.  Does OSHA provide a list of topics to include in my training program?

Yes. The standard provides a list of training topics; however, the employer may exclude those topics which are not relevant to safe operation at the employee’s work location.

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8.  Who should conduct the training?

All training and evaluation must be conducted by persons with the necessary knowledge, training, and experience to train powered industrial truck operators and evaluate their competence. An example of a qualified trainer would be a person who, by possession of a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing, or who by extensive knowledge, training, and experience has demonstrated the ability to train and evaluate powered industrial truck operators.

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9.  My employees receive training from the union on the use of powered industrial trucks. Will I have to provide any additional training?

When a worker reports to work, the employer must evaluate the employee to ensure that he/she is knowledgeable about the operation of the powered industrial trucks he/she will be assigned to operate. This evaluation could be as simple as having a person with the requisite skills, knowledge and experience observe the operator performing several typical operations to ensure that the truck is being operated safely and asking the operator a few questions related to the safe operation of the vehicle. If the operator has operated the same type of equipment before in the same type of environment that he/she will be expected to be working, then duplicative or additional training is not required.

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10.  Does OSHA require the employer to issue licenses to employees who have received training?

No. The OSHA standard does not require employees to be licensed. An employer may choose to issue licenses to trained operators.

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11.  What type of records or documentation must I keep?

The OSHA standard requires that the employer certify that each operator has received the training and has been evaluated. The written certification record must include the name of the operator, the date of the training, the date of the evaluation, and the identify of the person(s) performing the training or evaluation.

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12.  How long must I keep the certification records?

Employers who evaluate the operator’s performance more frequently than every three years may retain the most recent certification record; otherwise, certification records must be maintained for three years.

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13.  If my employees receive training, but accidents still continue to occur, what should I do?

Refresher training in relevant topics is necessary when the operator has been involved in an accident or near-miss incident.

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14.  Is annual training required?

No. An evaluation of each powered industrial truck operator’s performance is required to be conducted after initial training, after refresher training, and at least once every three years.

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15.  How often must refresher training be given?

The standard does not require any specific frequency of refresher training. Refresher training must be provided when:

  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 safety operation of the truck.

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16.  If my employees have already received training, or have been operating trucks for many years, must I retrain them?

No. An employer does not need to retrain an employee in the operation of a powered industrial truck if the employer certifies that the operator has been evaluated and has proven to be competent to operate the truck safely. The operator would need additional training in those elements where his or her performance indicates the need for further training and for new types of equipment and areas of operation.

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17.  Will I have to train all employees in my workplace?

Any employee that operates a powered industrial truck must be trained.

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18.  Will I have to ensure that my operator’s are physically capable of driving a powered industry truck?

The new standard does not contain provisions for checking vision, hearing or general medical status of employees operating powered industrial trucks. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) addresses the issue of whether employers may impose physical qualifications upon employees or applicants for employment. The ADA permits employers to adopt medical qualification requirements which are necessary to assure that an individual does not pose a “direct threat to the health or safety of other individuals in the workplace” provided all reasonable efforts are made to accommodate otherwise qualified individuals.

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19.  I have three different types of trucks in my workplace. Can I provide training on just one type of truck?

If an operator will be expected to operate all three types of vehicles, then training must address the unique characteristics of each type of vehicle the employee is expected to operate. When an attachment is used on the truck to move odd-shaped materials, then the operator training must include instruction on the safe conduct of those operations so that the operator knows and understands the restrictions or limitations created by each vehicle’s use.

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20.  I only have powered hand trucks in my workplace. Do the training requirements cover the operators of this type of vehicle? The operator walks alongside the unit while holding onto the handle to guide it.

Yes. The use of powered hand trucks present numerous hazards to employees who operate them and those working in the area where they are used.

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21.  I employ drivers from a temporary agency. Who will provide them training -the temporary service or me?

OSHA has issued several letters of interpretations on the subject of training of temporary employees. Basically, there is a shared responsibility for assuring employees are adequately trained. The responsibility for providing training should be spelled out in the contractual agreement between the two parties. The temporary agency or the contracting employer may conduct the training and evaluation of operators from a temporary agency as required by the standard; however, the host employer (or other employer who enters into a contract with the temporary agency) must provide site-specific information and training on the use of the particular types of trucks and workplace-related topics that are present in the workplace.

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22.  Should my training include the use of operator restraint devices (e.g. seat belts)?

Employers are required to train employees in all operating instructions, warnings, and precautions listed in the operator’s manual for the type of vehicle which the employee is being trained to operate. Therefore, operators must be trained in the use of operator restraint systems when it is addressed in the operating instructions.

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Last Updated: 10:00 a.m. June 13, 2015