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An In-Depth Look at Forklift OSHA Requirements

While it may seem like common sense for a new equipment operator to receive proper training, many workplaces let their employees get behind the controls, untrained. Operator error is the number one cause of forklift-related injuries and fatalities in the U.S., which makes a lack of training the main culprit.

As a result of the number of preventable forklift-related accidents in the workplace, OSHA has created a number of forklift certification requirements that can be found on their website under the standard for powered industrial trucks.

Forklift OSHA Requirements: The Basics of Safety Training

According to OSHA forklift license requirements, it’s the responsibility of the employer to make sure that any employee, temporary or permanent, who operates a forklift receives OSHA forklift training. Forklift training requirements include:

Formal instructionin OSHA forklift certification. The employer can create their own forklift training and be compliant with OSHA forklift certification requirements by providing workers with informational charts, diagrams, slides, video tapes, films, audio tapes, and even just a teacher speaking to a class.

Practical trainingconsisting of demos by the instructor and exercises practiced by the student. In addition to being compliant with OSHA forklift certification requirements, training needs to be specific to the workplace and to the type of equipment that they will be expected to use in the workplace.

Evaluationof the trainee’s performance in the workplace.

OSHA makes it clear what it expects from forklift operators and their employers. Both parties must work together to ensure that they follow OSHA requirements every day.

What Are Forklift Certification OSHA Requirements?

Forklift license requirements are broken up into five main sections on the OSHA website, and cover each of the following points:

  1. Operator training
  2. Safe operation/performance requirements
  3. Training program implementation
  4. Training program content
  5. Refresher training

Let’s look at each of these points in detail.

1. Operator Training

It is the employer’s responsibility to make sure that each forklift operator understands how to drive a forklift safely, which is demonstrated through training and OSHA-approved testing.

Before a worker is allowed to operate a forklift, except during training, the employer must make sure that they have completed the proper training.

2. Safe Operation/Performance Requirements

Employers are able to create their own OSHA forklift certification program based on the unique qualities of their workplace and the types of forklifts used.

3. Training Program Implementation

Under OSHA forklift certification requirements, trainees may operate a powered industrial truck only under direct supervision of a person who has the knowledge, training, and experience to train operators. This individual has a clear understanding of OSHA forklift safety regulations and ensures they are followed. In addition, he or she evaluates trainees’ understanding of forklift safety topics and monitors their ability to use a lift in a safe environment.

Forklift certification requirements include a combination of:

  • Formal instruction (e.g., lecture, discussion, interactive computer learning, written material);
  • Practical training (demonstrations and exercises performed by the trainee); and
  • Evaluation of the operator’s performance in the workplace.

Certified forklift operators can teach others how to safely use a lift. In fact, offers a Train a Trainer program that allows operators to become forklift safety teachers. These operators can then share forklift safety insights with peers and help them earn their OSHA forklift certification.

4. Training Program Content

Operators shall receive initial training in the following topics, with the exception to the topics that a forklift employer can prove are not relevant to their workplace, in order to fulfill forklift training requirements:

Truck-Related Topics

  • Operating instructions, warnings, and precautions
  • Differences from automobile
  • Controls and instrumentation
  • Engine or motor operation
  • Steering and maneuvering
  • Visibility
  • Fork and attachment adaptation, operation, use
  • Vehicle capacity and stability
  • Vehicle inspection and maintenance that the operator will be required to perform
  • Refueling/charging/recharging batteries
  • Operating limitations
  • Other instructions, etc.

Workplace-Related Topics

  • Surface conditions
  • Composition and stability of loads
  • Load manipulation, stacking, unstacking
  • Pedestrian traffic
  • Narrow aisles and restricted areas
  • Operating in hazardous (classified) locations
  • Operating on ramps and sloped surfaces
  • Potentially hazardous environmental conditions
  • Operating in closed environments or other areas where poor ventilation or maintenance
  • Could cause carbon monoxide or diesel exhaust build-up

Initial forklift training must account for all OSHA forklift certification requirements.

5. Refresher Training

Refresher training, including an evaluation of the quality of that training, is required with OSHA forklift certification to ensure that employees are able to operate forklifts safely with the most up-to-date information.

Refresher training is required if any of the following incidents occur:

  • Unsafe operation
  • Accident or near-miss
  • An evaluation of the operator’s skills indicates a need for it
  • Different types of equipment are introduced
  • Workplace conditions change

An evaluation of each forklift operator’s performance must be conducted after the following to meet forklift training requirements:

  • After initial training;
  • After refresher training; and
  • At least once every three years

Forklift OSHA requirements are comprehensive. Yet, OSHA-approved forklift safety training makes it easy to learn about these requirements and stay up to date on them.

Avoiding Duplicate Forklift Training

Forklift certification requirements say that if a forklift operator has been trained in a specific operating topic that is relevant to the workplace and type of equipment, and they have successfully proven their understanding of the topic, then further training is not required.

For 12 years our online forklift training program,, has offered free three-year renewals for this reason.

It is also the reason we offer a forklift training kit for in-house training with all the curricula, forklift certificates, and operator cards on a reusable and customizable template. We even put all kit materials on a flash drive for your convenience.

Along with making it simple to access our forklift safety training materials, we answer important questions regarding proper use of lifts. Our forklift safety training experts have developed training materials that meet OSHA requirements. They also make it a point to explain why OSHA forklift certification can deliver immense value for employers and employees alike.

Why Is OSHA Forklift Certification Important?

OSHA forklift certification is important for the following reasons to prevent accidents and save lives and avoid costly fines and violations.

According to OSHA, forklift accidents claim an average of 85 lives in the United States each year. OSHA also reports that, each year, forklifts account for approximately 100,000 industrial injuries, of which one-third are serious. To put these figures into perspective, more than one in ten forklifts in the United States each year will become involved in an accident. Studies show that a large proportion of accidents may be prevented by proper training. With this in mind, OSHA published a set of OSHA forklift certification requirements in 1999 specifying how OSHA forklift training should be carried out.

Apart from helping to prevent accidents that can lead to injuries and fatalities, forklift certification protects employers from being hit with costly fines. According to OSHA, the penalty for serious and other non-serious violations starts at $13,653. Willful or repeated violations, such as willfully allowing an untrained and uncertified worker to operate forklifts, cost a devastating $135,532. As an employee, if you want to be considered for the best forklift jobs, you need a forklift certification because any employer serious about their business won’t be willing to risk being slammed with fines as a result of not complying with forklift training requirements. And as an employer, it’s imperative to the future of your company for you to follow all forklift certification requirements and only allow trained employees to drive forklifts.

What Does This Mean for Employees?

If you want to be best prepared to protect your life on the job and avoid accidents, then you need to complete a quality forklift certification, one that covers all of OSHA’s forklift license requirements. You will learn exactly how to operate a forklift safely, perform inspections, and recognize and avoid hazards. As a result, you’ll be more productive at work, and your employer, or future employer, will greatly value your presence in the workplace. In fact, you can’t qualify for a great forklift job without forklift training.

What Does This Mean for Employers?

Not meeting the proper OSHA forklift certification requirements puts your business in jeopardy of costly fines and violations. If an OSHA inspector finds that you have untrained operators in your workplace, you can be facing an expensive write-up. And if they come as a result of an accident and find that untrained workers were injured or killed when working with forklifts, you may be looking at serious legal action against you and your business.

Besides the risk of fines and violations, not getting your employees the right OSHA forklift certification will hurt the productivity of your business. Workers who don’t have the knowledge and skills to operate forklifts safely and properly will be more likely to cause accidents, damage equipment and other structures, not perform effective maintenance or inspections, and simply not be able to work very efficiently. All of this means more money out of your business’s pocket and a lower bottom line with slower growth.

How Can I Complete My Forklift Certification?

All you have to do to complete your OSHA-approved forklift training and fulfill all forklift certification requirements is to create an account on It only takes a few minutes, and five easy steps:

  1. Sign up on our website.
  2. Register your company and employees.
  3. Complete the self-paced training modules.
  4. Complete the practical assessment with a trainer.
  5. Print out your certificate.

It generally won’t take long for workers to earn OSHA forklift certification. Upon completion, they can receive their forklift certification card. Best of all, your forklift operators can take appropriate measures to minimize the risk of forklift accidents at your workplace.

osha forklift certification requirementsFulfill OSHA Forklift Certification Requirements with FLC

The forklift certification program at is 100% OSHA-compliant and includes all vital information, including these two main categories, to meet forklift training requirements:

1. OSHA Forklift Certification for the Type of Equipment Used at a Worksite

Forklift certification training teaches workers about:

  • The differences between a powered industrial truck and an automobile
  • The capacity and stability of a forklift
  • How to refuel the vehicle or charge and recharge batteries, depending on how the forklift is powered
  • Operating the engine or motor and maneuvering the vehicle around the workplace
  • Maintenance and inspection responsibilities of the operator
  • Location and operation of instrumentation and controls
  • Operation and limitation of the fork and/or any attachments used
  • And any other operating precautions or instructions contained in the operator’s manual specific to the forklift truck or trucks being used

The bottom line: certification training teaches workers how to correctly use and maintain a forklift. It allows these employees to become licensed forklift operators who can contribute to a safe, productive workplace.

2. OSHA Forklift Safety Training to Identify and Address Workplace Dangers

Forklift certification training covers a wide range of on-the-job safety topics, including:

  • The characteristics of the floor or ground that the vehicle will be used on
  • The composition and stability of the types of loads that will be transported
  • Manipulation, stacking, and unstacking of loads
  • The nature of expected pedestrian traffic
  • The layout and width of aisles
  • Conditions of ramps and any other sloped surfaces that will affect the safe operation of the vehicle
  • Taking into account operation in environments where ventilation may be restricted or inadequate vehicle maintenance may lead to the build-up of toxic gases like diesel exhaust or carbon monoxide
  • Any other unique or hazardous features of the working environment

There is no telling when workplace safety dangers crop up that endanger forklift operators and others. Thanks to safety training, operators can identify these dangers and address them accordingly. Plus, they can do their part to prevent workplace dangers from leading to forklift accidents.


What to Expect from FLC’s OSHA-Approved Forklift Safety Training Program

We at FLC have created our program with the following points in mind to protect your life on the job and ensure you’re compliant with OSHA forklift certification requirements, including:

  • Safe operation of the trucks being used in the workplace
  • Workplace hazards related to the use of the vehicle
  • General OSHA forklift safety guidelines that apply to all work environments across the United States

You won’t have to worry about missing an OSHA update or regulation; we’ve designed our programs to always be up-to-date on all OSHA forklift training requirements.

Get Started NOW! Select one of our courses below to get trained and meet all forklift certification requirements:

OSHA Forklift training requirements


  • Teaches your experienced operators to lead the training and evaluations for new employees and allows you to save money, time, and frustration with your own in-house instructors.


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


  • Our Bundle package includes both the Train a Trainer course and the Training and Certification kit to save you money with one discounted price. If you’re an employer, the Bundle package is the most cost-efficient way to train your entire workplace using your own in-house instructors.

Aside from making sure your employees receive OSHA-approved forklift training, you can help prevent injuries and fatalities on your worksite by requiring your employees receive up-to-date OSHA forklift certification training, and to take the time to complete daily maintenance checks on the forklifts. Prevention is the best way to improve safety, increase employee productivity, and lower costs.

Read more here to learn the different maintenance checks you can complete yourself, and the type of forklift certification you should look into for your workers.

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