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The Ultimate Guide to Forklift Operator Evaluations

ultimate guide to forklift operator evaluations
Forklift training is a requirement for both aspiring operators and seasoned employees alike. It gives workers the knowledge and skills they need to use the forklift, know how the lift works, and recognize and avoid the dangers that can lead to accidents.

The final and most important part of forklift training that every worker must go through is the evaluation. Here is a detailed guide that shows how to organize and lead the forklift operator evaluation.

Evaluating Forklift Operators: The Process

Forklift evaluations are important tools for keeping operators and other workers safe. OSHA says that the evaluation is crucial for proving to employers that workers can use a forklift safely. OSHA also says that training must include formal instruction. This includes lectures, discussion, computer learning and videos, along with practical training and an evaluation of the operator’s performance in the workplace.

Initial Forklift Training

Any new operator who wishes to drive forklifts must first complete a training program that goes over how to operate the forklift, perform inspections, complete different maneuvers, recognize hazards, and prevent accidents.

Renewal Forklift Training

At least once every three years, all operators must complete refresher training and a new evaluation to renew their license and make sure their skills and knowledge are up-to-date.

Who Leads Forklift Operator Evaluations?

Forklift evaluations must be led by experienced and qualified workers who have the knowledge, training, and experience to train forklift operators and judge their ability to use forklifts safely.

At, our Train A Trainer course can be taken at any time and completed from any internet-connected device. The course covers everything experienced workers need to know to lead the evaluation, including OSHA regulations and recommended practices. It also includes a forklift operator evaluation form, forklift operator evaluation template, and a forklift operator evaluation checklist.

Other benefits of our online Train A Trainer course:

  • Skip the hassle of traveling to an offsite facility
  • Ensure Trainers are 100% OSHA-compliant
  • Complete the training at any time from any device
  • Always have in-house Trainers ready to lead the forklift evaluations for new employees

How Often Do Forklift Evaluations Need to Take Place?

According to OSHA requirements, refresher training, including a forklift operator evaluation, must take place at least once every three years for all operators, or if any of the following occurs:

  • The operator is involved in an accident or near-miss
  • The operator has not proven his or her ability to use forklifts safely after completing an evaluation
  • The operator is assigned a different type of forklift to drive that they are not trained in
  • A condition in the workplace changes that could affect how safe forklifts are to use

The Step-by-Step Guide for Performing the Forklift Operator Evaluation

The forklift operator practical evaluation form outlines a standard driving course that involves a few different exercises for drivers to complete, in addition to the forklift operator performance evaluation. Each evaluation and driving course starts with a complete demonstration from the Trainer.

Download the forklift operator evaluation checklist here.

How long does the driving course take?

  • About 15 minutes

What if the operator fails one or more parts?

  • They will be asked to redo any tasks until they are successful
  • If an operator receives a failing grade of less than 70% on the driving course, they will be asked to retake the entire driving portion until they pass it 100%

What does the driving course involve?

  • Inspecting the forklift and course
  • Starting and stopping the forklift
  • Driving forward to different parts of the arena in a specific pattern
  • Driving in reverse in the same pattern
  • Maneuvering around cones and other structures like doorways
  • Practicing proper load handling
  • Stopping and using the horn and other warning signals correctly

What are the types of maneuvers operators have to complete?

  • Forward slalom
  • Reverse slalom
  • Forward slalom part 2
  • Load handling 

Follow along with this forklift operator evaluation form for the more detailed step-by-step outline of how to perform the forklift operator evaluation:

forklift operator training 101 - guide to forklift operator evaluations

Forklift Operator Evaluation Cheat Sheet

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Beginning Instructions and Trainer Locations

There are usually two different spots where one or more Trainers stand to provide instructions and feedback. Trainer(s) at each location must do the following:

Location A Trainers:

  • Instruct the driver to inspect the course and lift truck
  • Ask any other observing trainees present what is being done well
  • Provide specific instruction and feedback to observers and the driver on how to operate forklifts
  • Ensure that the driver stops properly at the finish cone with the lift’s backside against the final cone

Location B Trainers:

  • Provide specific instruction for driving the course
  • Provide instruction and feedback to the driver and observers for how to operate the forklift truck

The Activities and Tasks

1. Forward Slalom

  • Trainer demonstrates the driving course and inspection of the lift truck and course
  • Trainer and operator discuss proper fork height
  • Operator must demonstrate slowing down and sounding the horn at cross aisles and blind spots
  • Trainer and operator discuss forklift safety, including mounting, seat belts, overhead guards, hand placement, horn, back up alarm, lights, and stopping and starting

Trainer A guides trainees to begin the forward slalom driving course in the following ways:

  • Walks with the operator to the first cone to guide the driver to the right-hand side of the cone
  • Instructs how to use the inside front tire for making a turn
  • Lets the operator complete forward slalom to Trainer at location B

Trainer B does the following:

  • Visually guides the operator to the stop position
  • Discusses the doorways and passageways using the stop-honk-go protocol
  • Provides any necessary feedback

2. Reverse Slalom

  • Trainer B provides instruction at the halfway point to make sure the operator uses the horn before moving forward and walks with the driver to the first cone ensuring they pass the cone on their left-hand side
  • Trainer B guides the driver to slalom through the cones to Trainer A
  • Trainer A guides the driver to circle the last cone
  • Trainer B ensures the driver performs the stop-honk-go protocol at the doorway
  • Trainer B walks the driver to the final position and instructs the driver to stop
  • Trainer B ensures the emergency brake is set

3-4. Forward Slalom Part 2

  • Trainer B stands at the positions on either end of the doorway and:
  • Ensures driver honks the horn before proceeding
  • Walks with the operator to first cone and ensures they proceed with the first cone on their right-hand side
  • Confirms the driver performs the stop-honk-go protocol at midway doorway
  • Driver continues the slalom through the remaining cones to position 5 and follows any instructions from Trainer B
  • Once at position 5, Trainer B:
  • Tells the driver to stop
  • Makes sure the emergency brake is set
  • Provides any necessary feedback

The next part involves handling a load. Trainer B provides instruction on:

  • Approaching the load
  • Using proper fork placement in skid to ensure a secure load
  • Using the proper forklift depth in skid to ensure a balanced load
  • Raising the load
  • The mast tilt pick-up and drop-off
  • Lifting the load to the proper height
  • Tilting the mast forward for the load
  • Lowering the load
  • Skid sizes, most commonly 48-inch skids
  • Proper travel speed with a load

6-7. Load Handling

  • Starting at position 5, Trainer B instructs the driver to ensure the horn is honked before moving forward and the driver performs either a load-on-top scenario or a load-on-ground scenario.


  • Driver picks up the top load from position 6 and places it on the ground at next position
  • Trainer checks for the proper approach, fork placement, fork depth, raising load, mast tilt, lowering the load, and traveling speed with the load


  • Driver picks up the ground load from position 7 and places it on top of load at position 6
  • Trainer checks for the proper approach, fork placement, fork depth, raising the load, mast tilt, lowering the load, and traveling speed with the load

After either of these scenarios, the operator will drive in reverse to the start/finish spot and park the forklift as close as possible to the final cone without touching it.

Forklift Trainer Feedback

The Trainer(s) will provide feedback on the following topics/tasks:

  • Parking
  • Review of the data plate of the truck
  • Stability triangle
  • Center of gravity
  • Shifting load center
  • Components for trucks, trailers, and docks (wheel chocking, dock locks, trailer floor and ramps, trailer capacity, and trailer tandems).

The Final Component: Forklift Operator Performance Evaluation

Lastly, the Trainer will look at the following items on a forklift operator performance evaluation form:

  • Forklift inspection
  • Mounting and dismounting
  • Seat belt usage
  • Understanding of the controls
  • Checked around forklift before driving
  • Slowed down on turns
  • Kept a clear view of travel
  • Turned corners correctly
  • Used horn at starts and intersections
  • Traveled with the load at the proper height
  • Drove in reverse correctly
  • Traveled with empty forks at the proper height
  • Approached the load properly
  • Lifted and lowered the load properly
  • Stopped smoothly and completely
  • Followed the proper parking procedures
  • Understood the use of different attachments, if applicable

You can view a similar performance forklift operator evaluation checklist from OSHA here.

Once each component and driving task has been passed successfully listed on the forklift operator evaluation form, operators will be able to receive their certification.

Formal Forklift Training Prior to the Evaluation

If your employees need a way to complete the first part of forklift training, that comes before the evaluation, look no further than We provide 100% OSHA-compliant online forklift training for new and experienced operators. Once operators pass this part only then can they be allowed to complete the evaluation.

Our online courses teach:

  • Warehouse Forklifts, Classes 1, 4, 5
  • Pallet Jacks and Order Pickers, Classes 2, 3
  • Rough Terrain Forklift, Class 7

Each class comes with all forms needed, including the forklift operator evaluation form, in addition to 24/7 online accessibility and free three year renewals for life!

To learn more about our online forklift training course, get in contact with us today or go to the training section on our website!

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