Forklift Training: Who Needs It?

Forklift Training

Untrained Forklift Operators lead to accidents.

Forklift Operators Need Forklift Training

Imagine the new employee wanting to make a good first impression on his supervisor. When his supervisor asks him to “jump on that forklift over there and move that pallet” he thinks to himself “How hard can it be?” Even though he has never driven a forklift before he has seen others drive them. It has a steering wheel, gas pedal, brake, and four wheels. So he climbs onto the forklift, grinds the gears, spears the product on the pallet while attempting to pick it up, and spills the load while transporting it. Sounds like the start of a very expensive day.

Back in the old days many of us probably learned to drive a forklift on our own by trial and error; and error meaning some product or damage to the forklift or attachments. But I would like to think that we’ve also learned from our past mistakes!

Sadly, over 11% of the nearly 1 million forklifts in use in the U.S. will be involved in some type of accident each year!  Approximately 35,000 serious injuries and 85 fatalities occur annually. In addition a large percentage of spilled loads (and other near misses) are never reported.

In 1999 OSHA updated its Powered Industrial Truck Standard (1910.178) to specify what should be included in effective lift truck training. It basically focuses on three areas:

  • Classroom instruction,
  • Practical instruction, and
  • Hands on evaluation of an operator’s performance in the work place.

After completing these requirements, the operator receives his forklift certification.  Although an outside company can assist in the certification OSHA regulations specify that it is the employer who must certify the employee. Many employers have found it less expensive to conduct this training internally using a proven curricula, like D2000's Forklift Operation Course.

Is it really necessary to include all three elements in your companies forklift training program? The short answer is YES! Not just because it is one of OSHA’s rules but because effective forklift operator training can reduce the potential for accidents!




Bruce Hulberg July 8, 2014

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