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Do You Need a License to Drive a Forklift?

dont drive without forklift license

Do you need a license to drive a forklift? It’s a question we’re frequently asked by business owners and lift operators alike. The short answer is yes, although there’s a distinction between an equipment operator’s license and a license to drive cars, trucks, or buses on public roads, which isn’t required to operate lift equipment.

OSHA takes workplace safety very seriously, particularly in regards to equipment operator training and licensing. Although OSHA doesn’t have its own training programs for operating forklifts and other large pieces of equipment, it has established regulations for training operators, including imposing penalties and fines on employers for having unlicensed forklift drivers.

Various OSHA studies and investigations conducted over the years concluded that unlicensed forklift drivers have a higher incidence of accidents resulting in serious injuries and fatalities than those operators who have been properly trained and certified, and that’s where can help!. Here’s some of what’s included in our fast, convenient, and affordable operator training:

  • OSHA compliant, comprehensive forklift equipment operator training
  • Lifetime customer support
  • Downloadable operator licenses and certifications
  • Free lifetime refresher and renewal training
  • And a lot more

Along with offering forklift certification training, we’re here to answer common forklift safety questions. That way, you can understand the value of our training. You can also recognize why operators require a license to safely use a forklift.

Risks and Penalties for Operating a Forklift Without a License

So why exactly do you need a driver’s license to drive a forklift? The most common types of workplace accidents involving forklifts are turnovers and collisions, which are due primarily to operator error. But, many of these accidents could have been prevented if operators received proper training.

Unlicensed forklift operators lack the training needed to properly operate a forklift under conditions such as on ramps or slopes, rough or uneven terrain, and various other adverse jobsite conditions. They require skills only professional training can provide.

Without proper training, unlicensed operators:

  • Aren’t capable of recognizing and avoiding potential hazards that could result in accidents causing serious injuries or fatalities.
  • Won’t understand the importance of properly inspecting and maintaining forklift equipment.
  • Lack the knowledge and experience to safely work around overhead obstacles, avoid electrical hazards and operate the equipment when there are pedestrians present.

Training enables operators to earn a license that verifies they know how to safely use a forklift. The license is a must-have for all operators who use forklifts as part of their day-to-day work.

As an employer, you need to be aware that fines for unlicensed forklift drivers are substantial. According to OSHA, any employer who knowingly or repeatedly violates the forklift training requirements may be fined thousands of dollars for each day the violation continues beyond the “cure by” date up to a maximum of $136,532. Furthermore, any person who makes a false statement, representation, or claim of certification in any form may be fined up to $13,653, imprisoned for up to six months or both. Ignoring OSHA regulations, including not complying with their requirement for forklift operators to be properly trained and licensed before they’re permitted to operate the equipment, can have severe consequences on employers.

How Old Must You be to Operate a Forklift?

Curious about how old you must you be to operate a forklift? It’s actually against the law for anyone under the age of 18 to drive forklifts. To protect their workers and the working environment, OSHA also requires employers to ensure that each of their forklift operators are properly trained and certified before they’re allowed to operate the equipment. Allowing them to drive without OSHA-approved training and licensing significantly increases the risk of workplace accidents that result in serious employee injuries or deaths, as well as costly damages to equipment, property, and inventory.

Ultimately, if you have forklift operators on staff, you need to ensure they are licensed. Failure to comply with OSHA requirements for forklift licenses can put your workers in danger. If an unlicensed forklift operator causes an accident, the incident could endanger the operator and others. Also, this accident can lead to OSHA penalties that damage your business reputation and bottom line.

Forklift License Training Courses 

Now that you know the answer to the question “do you need a license to drive a forklift,” explore the options for getting licensed. FLC offers three forklift license training programs. Here’s what’s covered by each:

Forklift Training and Certification Kit

In as little as an hour, this OSHA-compliant course will teach your drivers everything they need to know about safely operating forklifts in the workplace. FLC’s Training and Certification kit includes all materials needed to train and certify each of your current and future operators for a one-time payment of just $299.

Train a Trainer Program

FLC‘s Train a Trainer course was designed for companies that have a forklift operator training program in place, but need an-in-house trainer to train and evaluate their unlicensed drivers, and new workers as they come on board. The cost to become a Certified Forklift Safety Expert is only $149.

Bundle and Save Kit

This money-saving package includes both FLC’s Forklift Training and Certification kit and our Train a Trainer course for just $399. That’s a discount of $50 over purchasing the two courses separately.

Your forklift operators will receive everything they need to know to safely fulfill their duties and protect the lives of their coworkers and themselves while on the job. You, as their employer, will avoid the penalties and fines associated with allowing your workers to drive forklifts without being certified and licensed.

Frequently Asked Questions about Forklift Licenses

Here are more questions we’re often asked about forklift operator licenses, along with our answers:

How Old Must You be to Operate a Forklift?

All forklift operators must be at least 18. This isn’t just a recommendation – it’s the law. Break the law and your business could face expensive fines and penalties.

Can a forklift operator drive a lift if he or she has a driver’s license?

Many people ask us “what license do I need to drive a forklift?” The answer hinges on an important distinction: a driver’s license and a forklift license are different. Although someone may hold a driver’s license, he or she also needs a forklift license to legally operate a lift.

Can an operator drive a forklift without a driver’s license?

Yes. OSHA doesn’t require a standard vehicle driver’s license to operate a forklift, even on public roads while driving to and from jobsites! The driver must, however, have already received OSHA compliant forklift operator training and certification from an approved trainer such as

Can I operate a forklift without a license?

No, you need a forklift license to operate a lift and remain in compliance with OSHA regulations. OSHA doesn’t offer forklift operator training or issue forklift licenses, but rather requires operators to be properly trained and certified in accordance with their regulations by an approved trainer such as When the training has been completed, certifications and operator cards are issued, which serve as the workers’ license in the event of an audit or safety violation.

Do you need a license to drive a FLT?

FLT is a term sometimes used when talking about a forklift, so FLT operators are required to have OSHA-compliant operator training and certification in order to legally operate the equipment. See the question and answer immediately for more information on licensing and certification requirements.

Is it hard to get a forklift license?

Not at all when you choose to train and certify your workers! In as little as an hour, your forklift operators can complete our100 % OSHA-compliant certification training.

Is it possible to get a forklift license online?

Absolutely! Our online forklift certification training program offers unmatched convenience. It gives anyone the ability to access our program materials via their smartphone, tablet, or desktop or laptop computer. This ensures our program materials are accessible anywhere an internet connection is available.

Is it possible to fail a forklift certification test?

FLC’s pass rate is 100%. Although most trainees pass the class the first time it’s taken, if a student fails, the training can be repeated as many times as necessary.

How long does forklift certification last?

Forklift operators are required to recertify every three years. To do so, operators can complete an OSHA-compliant refresher course.

What happens if a licensed forklift operator causes an accident?

Despite a forklift operator’s best efforts, an accident may still occur. In this instance, the operator will need to complete forklift certification training once again.

Earn Your Forklift Certification Online Today

Those wondering do you need a license to drive a forklift can benefit from our convenient online resources. Whether you’re looking to get certified on your own, hoping to train an entire team, or just want to invest in tools and certification for your business overall, is the answer.

It only takes a few minutes to create an account and get started training. Most people complete our online videos and exams within an hour or so. Since all materials can be accessed 24/7 from any device with an internet connection, it’s never been easier or more convenient to get certified to drive a forklift. Don’t delay – sign up for our forklift licensing program today.

Still have questions about our offerings? Reach out to our team for more insight into online training, OSHA requirements, and how to get your business in compliance with their rules and regulations. Give us a call at (888) 278-8896 or click here to connect with us online.

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