If you are completing a forklift driver training program and want to work in the construction industry, your employer may require you to hold OSHA forklift certification. Forklift certification programs prepare students for an examination that tests their skills and abilities using a forklift and other machinery on a construction site. These programs prepare students with the skills and knowledge related to safety and workplace hazards, machinery operating protocol and basic techniques for handling and maneuvering forklifts. You can complete a forklift certificate program offline or online, but you will need to complete the hands-on portion at an approved training center.

What is Forklift Certification?

Whether you're working in building construction or in a warehouse, you will need to hold a forklift certificate in order to operate forklifts and other machinery. Forklift certification programs typically include both classroom or online training, and hands-on exercises at a dedicated training center. If you are completing your certification requirements online, you may be given multimedia online training materials, checklists, safety posters and other materials to support each lesson and training module.

Forklift certification is usually required for the following positions:

  • Safety officers
  • Warehouse employees, including management
  • Shop foreman
  • Warehouse or construction site supervisors
  • Construction company and warehouse owners

OSHA Forklift Certification Requirements

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set some specific standards and guidelines for all employees who are responsible for operating industrial-size trucks, forklifts and other heavy equipment at a construction site or warehouse. Failure to comply with OSHA standards and guidelines may result in a heavy fine, so it is important for all employees to obtain OSHA forklift certification and complete appropriate training requirements.

Some of the key skills and concepts learned with an OSHA forklift certification program include:

  • Safety operations and features
  • Operating powered industrial trucks in different environments
  • Engine and motor operation basics
  • Fork and attachment adaptation, operation and limitations
  • Vehicle capacity and stability
  • Refueling and recharging batteries protocol
  • Operating limitations
  • Visibility and restrictions due to loading
  • Workplace safety
  • Pedestrian traffic
  • Surface conditions and weather-related hazards
  • Operating on ramps and sloped surfaces

Getting a Forklift Certificate

Many companies recommend or extend certified operator training programs to their employees to ensure everyone on staff has been trained according to the latest OSHA guidelines. These programs may be available online, and typically include specialized training courses such as:

  • Order Pickers
  • Pallet jacks
  • Warehouse Forklifts
  • Side Loaders
  • Electric vs. Gas or Diesel-Powered Forklifts
  • Telescopic Equipment

Training and evaluation must be conducted by a someone who has the training, knowledge and experience to train forklift operators as well as to determine their competence. Many experienced forklift trainers can complete a training program themselves and become an official forklift certification trainer for their company.

The general requirements for training and evaluation include formal training through lectures, videos and interactive computer simulations, practical training with hands-on exercises and demonstrations, and having an employer certify that the forklift operator has received all necessary training. A certificate can only be given to those who meet all of these requirements.

By law, employers are required to give an operator performance evaluation at least once every three years. Operators who fail to meet the standards set forth by OSHA or the employer may be required to complete extra training programs until they improve their skills.