Are you considering obtaining your forklift certification? Then you have come to the right place. We have compiled a guide that covers everything you need to know about becoming certified and staying certified throughout your career. It’s important to know that it’s not just a one-time thing, but continuous learning to ensure top safety within the workplace.
So, let’s jump in and see what all it takes to become forklift certified.
Who Gives the Test?
In most locations it is very standard that you must be 18 years of age to take the program. It’s typically a 3-4-hour program through OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) that uses video, group discussions, lectures, and hand-on exercises and costs $49. The topics you learn include:
- Equipment knowledge
- Driving Skills
- Load Handling
- Accident Prevention
- Inspecting your Lift Truck
- Acknowledging need for Maintenance
- Dock Hazards
What if I Fail?
So, you failed the test. Yes! You can retake it! Students hardly ever fail when retaking the certification for driving a forklift. But having a forklift certification is very important as not having one can inhibit you from obtaining a job, and if you are hired without one it can cause huge implications to your employer if you’re caught without one. OSHA requires that every forklift driver is trained and certified to drive a forklift.
Importance of Forklift Certification
As noted above, OSHA requires a forklift certification in order to drive and maneuver a forklift in a warehouse or salvage yard. One of the major issues is safety. Taking these courses can minimize and hopefully eliminate injuries and fatalities in the workplace. It can also decrease accidents that cause damage to the machines themselves which can save the company hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in damages and lost goods.
Having the training and certification is not only important to the company, but to yourself. Driving a machine of that capacity puts you and the company at a high risk if not controlled by a trained professional.
If I get trained to operate a forklift once, am I certified forever?
So, you have been trained to operate a forklift? Does that mean your training is done forever? Not quite. In order to comply with OSHA regulations, you have to keep renewing your forklift operating license and training every three years. Have you renewed yours?
What if I Change Jobs?
Can you continue to use your forklift certification? That is a great question, but the answer is usually no. Not that it isn’t accepted necessarily, but that it’s just a minor qualification. That is because most companies require training that goes beyond what OSHA requires. This means you may have to undergo additional training to adhere to that certain companies regulations.
Each company develops their own Powered Industrial Truck (PIT) Written Program. This is OSHA’s way of regulating how companies train and oversee their employees that operate forklifts, powered pallet jacks, and other heavy machinery. Each company is not required to have the same PIT program, therefore when moving to a new company you must be trained on their new PIT program as required by OSHA.
Will I Learn Anything New?
If you think you think driving a forklift can be done without the certification class, you’re sadly mistaken. Maneuvering a forklift safely withing a warehouse or yard is much more complicated that you think.
Of course, the basics will be covered like the controls: moving the machine and fork. But in addition to that you learn vital information to keep you, your fellow workers, and the product safe.
One example is retaining balance. It may seem simple, but a common issue for new forklift drivers in tipping. They will teach you how to be aware of elevated loads, how and when to keep the load low to the ground, and more importantly what to do if or when your lift does tip over.
The training also teaches you best practices and common courtesy when driving a lift truck, which will get you far with some of the more experienced drivers and workers at the company. These include things like overloading your lift, when to use the horn, when maintenance is needed, and more.
Overall, obtaining your certification is a small cost to pay for a steady job that pays well. If you’re interested in more information about forklifts don’t forget to check out our learning center for everything you need to know!