Forklifts are used in construction and industrial sites. There are thousands of injuries and a number of deaths each year from forklift accidents in the United States. Forklift certification is very important as it affects both the safety of the operator as well as the people surrounding him.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a revised standard on December 1, 1998, with new policies to enhance the training of powered industrial truck operators. This became effective on March 1, 1999, with compliance by December 1, 1999. The standard is intended to reduce injuries and deaths as a result of lack of operator training. The training applies to all businesses and industries except agriculture.
The minimum age of forklift operation is 18 years as required by OSHA. There are specific training requirements which depend on whether the operator is using hazardous materials, unloading or loading products or doing regular forklift maintenance. After employee certification, the employer must perform re-evaluation every three years in the workplace.
Basic factors in forklift certification are:
- Formal training which can last 1 hour to 1 ½ hours. The formal training has a written test and can be conducted at the company location.
- Practical training where the employee is actually operating the forklift.
- Evaluation is where the employer assesses the ability of the forklift operator. The evaluation must be documented by the employer.
- Certification is the final step. This is a very important step because employer must determine that the operator will not damage the equipment or cause injury or death to themselves or workers surrounding him.
Employers must complete certification for each type of forklift. These types include:
- Forklifts used on rough terrain at construction sites
- Sit-down LPG forklift
- Electric riding Pallet Jack
- Electric walking Pallet Jack
- Sit-down diesel forklift
- Sit-down electric forklift
- Stand-up electric forklift
- High-lift walking forklift
Forklift training can be performed by someone outside of the company. This can be accomplished by the manufacturer's representative or a training consultant who has been trained on the topics required by the program. If a certified forklift operator changes jobs, they will have to go through the certification process with the new employer.
Employers who comply with OSHA regulations will satisfy worker's comp, liability insurance and OSHA field inspector's guidelines. Employers with untrained operators can be subject to a fine. OSHA requires the certification to include the operator's name, training and evaluation dates and who performed the training and evaluation.