OSHA Requirement for Forklift Training


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is the U.S. government agency responsible for assuring safe and healthful working conditions by setting and enforcing standards and providing training, outreach, education and assistance. OSHA establishes the guidelines that companies must follow when training and certifying forklift operators. The training must consist of both classroom instruction and actual operation, and must educate trainees about the potential hazards involved.

Formal Introduction

  • While OSHA provides guidelines, the person who conducts the training usually is an employee of the company for which you'll be driving a forklift. Employees hired after Dec. 1, 1999, must be trained before being assigned to operate a forklift. This typically begins in a lecture environment, where the trainee is acquainted with the specific vehicle and given an overview of its safe operation.

Practical Training

  • Practical training occurs once the trainee is familiar with the overall operation of the forklift. The trainee may be allowed to maneuver the vehicle around the workplace and learn how to properly operate it in a safe and productive manner. Topics covered include operating instructions, warnings and precautions for the specific type of vehicle used, and attachment adaptation and operation.


  • Once the trainee is comfortable handling a forklift, evaluation is performed by the trainer. At this point the trainee will be expected to operate and maneuver the forklift in a safe manner as directed. This includes being able to identify any adverse surface conditions or other hazards and to safely maneuver through or around them.


  • Upon successful completion of training, you are deemed qualified to operate the forklift in your specific place of employment. Subsequent evaluations are administered after any refresher training is conducted and at a minimum of once every three years.

Private Certification

  • For those not currently employed but who would still like to become OSHA-certified forklift operators, several licensed driving schools offer the same type of training and evaluation. Classes typically last three to five days and lead to OSHA certification.The costs associated with these private classes vary.

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