Welcome!  This is a quick guide to help you understand the rules and regulations for operating forklifts.  Remember, this is just an overview.  It is not a replacement for local rules and regulations.

Questions?  Click to chat, email us at service@xosafety, or call us at 1-888-213-0432.

Forklift Operator Training DVD Compliance Kit

Check out the Forklift Operator Training DVD Compliance Kit for a written safety program, video, PowerPoint, E- Learning Module, and more!

Step 1 - Review the OSHA Powered Industrial Trucks Regulations

You must be familiar with the regulations covering forklift operations. This guide will explain the main requirements, but you should be familiar with the specific requirements.  Most states are covered by the OSHA federal regulation of 29 CFR 1910.178 - Powered Industrial Trucks.  

Federal Powered Industrial Truck Regulations

State Powered Industrial Truck Regulations

There are a few states that have enacted their own regulations.  They are very similar, or identical, to the federal regulations.





Step 2 - Select the Appropriate Forklift for the Work Area

Watch the Video to Learn About Forklift Types and Selection

Forklifts are classified by type and source of power.   You must select the type of forklift that is appropriate for the hazards of the workplace.  Here are a few examples:

  • Areas with confined spaces may require battery powered forklifts that do not emit carbon monoxide.
  • Areas with flammable gasses may require forklifts with spark prevention and fire protection features.
  • Areas with narrow access may require narrow aisle forklifts.

Part C of 1910.178 covers the requirements for forklift selection.  Review this portion for guidance.

 Step 3 - Designate a Forklift Trainer

The employer has the authority to designate an employee to train and certify forklift operators.  There is no outside certification required to become a forklift trainer.  The trainer selected must meet this requirement:

"All operator training and evaluation shall be conducted by persons who have the knowledge, training, and experience to train powered industrial truck operators and evaluate their competence."

We recommend that this designation be made in writing.

Step 4 - Conduct Forklift Operator Training

Learn about OSHA Forklift Training Requirements

Once the company has designated a trainer, they can train, evaluate, and certify forklift operators.  The training must include formal instruction, hands-on practical training, and an operational evaluation.

Formal Instruction

Operators must be trained on the safety requirements for forklift operation.  This training can be done in the form of a video, PowerPoint presentation, on-line course, handbook, or even a formal discussion.  The forklift operator training requirements of 1910.178(l)(3) just need to be addressed.

Formal Instruction Training Resources

Practical Hands-On Instruction

Once the formal instruction is complete, the trainees must complete hands on practical training.  There are two important rules for the hands-on training.

  1. The trainee must be under the direct supervision of the designated trainer.
  2. The training must be done in a location and manner that does not endanger the trainee or other employees.

Refer to the OSHA Training Program Outline for hands on instruction topics.  Be sure to review the vehicle operators manual for any additional items that need to be covered.

Forklift Operator Evaluation

Once the formal training and practical training are completed, the operator must be evaluated operating the forklift by the designated trainer.  

Forklift Operator Evaluation Resources

Forklift Operator Training Documentation

It is important to document forklift operator training.  While many employers use wallet cards for forklift operators, they are not required.  OSHA requires the employer document forklift training with information that includes:

  1. Name of the operator.
  2. Date of the training.
  3. Date of the evaluation.
  4. Identity of the persons performing the training or evaluation.

Create a Free Forklift License

Check out LiftLicense.com for a free forklift license printing tool.

Step 5 - Conduct Daily Forklift Inspections and Operational Checks

Learn About the Requirements for Forklift Operations

Forklifts must be inspected daily (or at the start of each work shift) to verify the are in good condition and operating properly.  While the regulations do not explicitly say the checks must be documented in writing, it is a good idea to keep records.

Forklift Inspections and Operational Checks

The forklift must be inspected to make sure the components are in good condition.  The forklift systems must be checked to make sure that they are operating properly.

Forklift Inspection and Operational Checks Resources

 Step 6 - Refresher Training and Evaluation

A refresher training and evaluation must be performed at a minimum of every three years, or when:

  1. The operator has been observed driving in an unsafe manner.
  2. The operator is involved in an incident.
  3. The operator fails an evaluation.
  4. The operator is assigned to drive a different type of forklift.
  5. Conditions in the workplace change that could affect the safe operation of the vehicle.

 Forklift Compliance Resources


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