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The Ultimate Guide to Forklift Operator Evaluations

ultimate guide to forklift operator evaluations

Forklift training is required for people who hope to become forklift operators. Training gives workers the needed knowledge and skills to know how forklifts work and how to use them, including how to recognize and avoid hazards that can lead to accidents.

The most important part of forklift training every forklift trainee must go through is the operator evaluation. Here’s a guide to organizing and leading forklift operator evaluations.

The Forklift Evaluation Process

Evaluations are an important tool for keeping forklift operators and their coworkers safe. OSHA considers the forklift operator performance evaluation necessary in order to demonstrate to ensure employers that their employees are capable of safely operating a forklift. OSHA also requires that formal instruction, lectures, videos, and computer learning are included in forklift operator training, along with a “hands-on” evaluation of the operator’s performance in the workplace.

Initial Forklift Training

The first step for employees who want to operate forklifts is to complete a training program that covers inspecting and operating the equipment, performing various maneuvers, recognizing potential hazards and preventing accidents.

Renewal Forklift Training

Once every three years or whenever there’s a workplace accident where a forklift is involved, OSHA requires both renewal training and a new forklift operator performance evaluation to make sure their skills and knowledge are up to date.

Who Leads Forklift Evaluations?

Forklift operator performance evaluations need to be led by workers who are qualified and certified and have the knowledge, training and experience to teach new operators and evaluate their performance.’s online Train A Trainer Course can be taken using a digital device any time and anywhere there’s an Internet connection. The course covers everything employers or workers need to know to conduct a forklift operator performance evaluation, including OSHA regulations and recommended practices. The course also includes an OSHA forklift evaluation form, an operator evaluation template, and a forklift operator training checklist.

Other Benefits of ALC’s Online Train A Trainer Course

– Avoid the hassle of traveling to an offsite training facility

– Ensure trainers receive 100% OSHA-compliant instruction

– Free lifetime renewal training

– In-house trainers who are always available to evaluate new forklift operators

– ALC Training is fast, easy and affordable

How Often are Forklift Evaluations Needed?

OSHA requires refresher training, including forklift operator reevaluations at least once every 3 years or whenever one of the following occurs:

– An operator is involved in an accident or near-miss

– During an evaluation, an operator hasn’t demonstrated the ability to safely operate a forklift

– An operator is assigned a type of forklift that he or she hasn’t been trained to operate

– There have been changes in workplace conditions that could make it unsafe to use forklifts

A Step-by-Step Guide for Conducting Forklift Operator Evaluations

The OSHA forklift operator evaluation form includes a standard driving course with a few driving exercises in addition to those covered by the forklift operator performance evaluation. The evaluation and driving course begins with the trainer providing a complete demonstration of his or her ability to safely operate a forklift. Click here to download the forklift operator training checklist.

Here are some frequently asked questions about the driving evaluation:

– How long does the driving evaluation take?

 – About 15 minutes

– What if the operator fails one or more parts of the evaluation?

– The trainer will ask them to redo those parts until they’re successfully completed. If an operator receives a grade of less than 70% and fails the driving course, he or she will be required to retake the entire driving portion until they pass with a grade of 100%

– What does the driving course involve?

The driving course requires the trainee to:

– Inspect the forklift and the route to be driven

– Start and stop the forklift

– Drive forward to different parts of the training area in a specific pattern

– Repeat the pattern in reverse

– Maneuver around cones and other obstacles such as doorways

– Practice proper load handling procedures

– Correctly use the horn and other warning signals

– What are the maneuvers operators need to complete?

– Operators need to demonstrate they can perform forward and reverse slaloms and properly handle loads.

forklift operator training 101 - guide to forklift operator evaluations

Forklift Operator Evaluation Cheat Sheet

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Starting the Instructions and Trainer Locations

Normally, there are two different spots where trainers are positioned to provide instructions, observe the operator and deliver feedback:

Location A Trainers

  • Instruct the driver to inspect the equipment and the course that’s to be driven
  • Quiz any other trainees who are observing as to whether tasks are being completed properly
  • Provide specific instructions and feedback to both the driver and observers as to how forklifts should be operated

Location B Trainers

  • Provide the trainee driver with specific instructions for driving the course
  • Give the driver and observers feedback as to how the forklift is to be safely operated

Training Activities and Tasks

Forward Slalom

  • The trainer begins by demonstrating how to inspect the course and equipment and how to drive the course
  • The trainer discusses proper fork height with the operator
  • The operator demonstrates slowing down and sounding the horn at cross aisles and blind spots
  • The trainer and operator discuss forklift safety, including getting aboard, starting and stopping, using seat belts, overhead guards, hand placement, horn use, back up alarm and lights

Trainer A helps trainees begin the forward slalom driving portion of the course by walking with them and guiding them to the right hand side of the first cone. The trainer then instructs the driver how to use the inside front tire to make a turn. Trainer A then lets the operator drive to the end of the forward slalom course where Trainer B is positioned.

Trainer B guides the operator to the stop position. They then discuss maneuvering past doorways and passageways using the stop-honk-go protocol. Finally, Trainer B provides any feedback that might be needed.

Reverse Slalom

At the halfway point, Trainer B instructs the operator to use the horn before proceeding. Trainer B then walks with the driver to the first cone to ensure the cone is passed on their left-hand side. The driver then slaloms through the cones to where Trainer A is waiting to watch the operator drive in a circle around the last cone. Walking the with the driver toward the last cone. Trainer B makes sure once again that the driver uses the stop-honk-go protocol at a doorway. When the final position is reached, Trainer B instructs the driver to stop and set the emergency brake properly.

Slalom Part 2

Positioned at the doorway, Trainer B makes sure the driver honks the horn before proceeding. He then walks with the operator to the first cone, making sure the cone is on their right-hand side as they pass. Trainer B once again confirms the driver stops and honks before passing the doorway along the route.

The driver continues slaloming through the remaining cones to the final position. Once they arrive, Trainer B tells the driver to stop and set the emergency brake. Trainer B then delivers any necessary feedback.

Load Handling Instruction

During the next part of the forklift evaluation, Trainer B provides instruction on handling a load, including:

  • Approaching the load
  • How to place the fork in a skid to secure and balance the load
  • Raising the load
  • Tilting the mast for pick-ups and drop-offs
  • Lowering the load
  • Working with different skid sizes
  • Travel speed with a load

Load Handling Evaluation

Trainer B instructs the driver to honk the horn before moving forward and perform a load-on-top maneuver to remove the load, which the driver is instructed to place on the ground at the next position. The trainer checks the driver’s ability to approach the load, place the fork at the proper depth, mast tilt, raising and lowering the load and traveling speed.

Next, the trainer instructs the driver pick up a ground load and deposit it on top of the load at the next position. Once again, the trainer checks for proper approach, place the fork in the skid at the proper depth, raising the load, tilting the mast, traveling speed and lowering the load. The operator is then asked to drive in reverse to the start/finish point and park the forklift as close as possible to the final cone without touching it.

Forklift Trainer Feedback

Following the driving and load handling evaluation, the trainer or trainers provide feedback on the operator’s knowledge of how to correctly perform the following tasks:

  • Parking the lift
  • Reviewing the lift’s data plate
  • Keeping the center of gravity of the forklift and load within the stability triangle
  • Shifting the load center
  • Loading and unloading from trucks, trailers and docks, including using wheel chocks, dock locks, trailer ramps and trailer tandems.

The Final Step

Lastly, the trainer will observe the driver’s performance of the following items on the OSHA forklift evaluation form:

  • Mounting and dismounting the lift
  • Using seatbelts
  • Understanding and using the controls
  • Inspecting the forklift before driving
  • Reducing speed during turns
  • Keeping a clear view of the travel route
  • Turning corners correctly
  • Using the horn at starts and intersections
  • Traveling with the load at the proper height
  • Driving correctly in reverse
  • Traveling with empty forks at the right height
  • Properly approaching the load
  • Safely lifting and lowering the load
  • Stopping smoothly and completely
  • Following proper parking procedures
  • Understanding the use of various forklift attachments

Click here to see a copy of an OSHA forklift evaluation form.

After successfully completing each component of the evaluation, operators are eligible to receive their certifications.

Forklift Training Prior to the Evaluation

Before they’re eligible for evaluation, operators must complete formal forklift training. offers 100% OSHA-compliant online forklift training for both new and experienced operators. Our online training covers Warehouse Forklifts Classes 1, 4 & 5, Pallet Jack and Order Picker Classes 2 & 3 and Class 7 Rough Terrain Forklift operation.

For more information about FLC’s fast, convenient and affordable Forklift Operator Training and Certification Program for you or your employees, contact us online or call us today at 888-278-8896 – you’ll be glad you did!

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