Forklift Operator Training

Safer employees. Increased productivity. Reduced insurance premiums. Lower equipment costs. These are some of the top reasons to invest in forklift operator training. There is also this critically important reason: According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): “It is a violation of Federal law for anyone … to operate a forklift … who is not properly trained and authorized to do so.”

The good news is that OSHA regulations offer a great deal of latitude in how you meet this requirement. The even better news is that the experienced forklift training instructors at NITCO are equipped to provide you with the highest quality forklift operator training — even tailoring their training program to your work environment and the equipment your operators are using.

Forklift Operator Training Class

Most of NITCO’s multimedia, hands-on forklift operator training sessions are held on-site at your facility — both for convenience and so operators can apply the lessons learned to the actual equipment they are using. (There are seven classifications of forklifts and OSHA specifies that operators be trained on all equipment that they operate.)

The sessions begin with a classroom component and a frank discussion about the risks. For example, an estimated 100,000 people are injured each year in incidents involving a lift truck. Sadly, there are also as many as 100 fatalities each year, approximately half of which are caused by the machine tipping over and crushing the operator. Our instructors also use video depicting actual lift truck accidents to help underscore the hazards and the ever-present need to be vigilant about proper safety techniques.

Training includes an informative discussion of load capacity and placement, since there is a direct correlation between load capacity and stability, and tip overs. (Knowledge of basic “forklift physics” is proven to keep operators safer.)

The classroom segment wraps up with a written test. Participating companies are encouraged to keep copies because — in the event that OSHA becomes involved due to an incident — the written tests provide evidence that the company is in compliance with federal training requirements. (For your convenience, NITCO keeps copies of all the tests on file in case you ever need documentation.)

Hands-On Forklift Operator Training

NITCO’s forklift operator training also includes a hands-on component — focused primarily on ensuring that operators are following best practices when they perform their daily forklift safety inspections. Because these quick, but very important, daily inspections are also required by OSHA, NITCO has created a free, downloadable Forklift Safety Inspection Checklist.

During training, the instructor also helps operators work on specific skills and tasks, including those unique to the types of equipment they use on the job. Additionally, aerial lifts and any equipment that puts an operator up in the air require specialized training to counter the increased risk. Operators must also know how to read and interpret the data plate that is attached to every forklift.

Forklifts often operate in tight, busy warehouse spaces where visibility can be an issue. Electric forklifts can also be whisper quiet, so you won’t always hear them coming. NITCO also offers “Train the Trainer” instruction to help generate your own in-house training program.

Our expert instructors have trained thousands of forklift operators and trainers on all types of lift trucks, scissor lifts and aerial lifts throughout New England and upstate New York. The number one priority is to ensure that each operator feels both “competent and confident” with the equipment they’re using.

Finally, we always like to remind forklift operators of these three fundamental safety tips:

  • Keep your load low
  • Keep your speed slow, and
  • If you can’t see what is in front of you, don’t go

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Frequently Asked Questions

What forklift training does OSHA require?

OSHA specifies that operators be trained on the specific materials handling equipment they use on the job and that training occur “at least once every three years.”

It leaves a lot open to interpretation regarding its operator training standards. For example, an employer can tailor training sessions based on the actual work they do and their actual warehouse or worksite conditions. Check the OSHA “Training Assistance” page for more specifics.

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How long does the forklift training session take?

This is a common question from managers and foremen and, of course, we understand why — there is always a lot of work to be done, and minimizing downtime is a key part of functioning at maximum efficiency.

We try to run through the training as efficiently as possible, but it’s good to plan for the session to last at least three hours or more. However, most managers and foremen understand that OSHA-mandated training must be taken seriously, since it keeps their employees safe and is ultimately good for the bottom line.

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Is forklift training required for each type of lift truck an operator uses?

Yes. According to OSHA, “training must address the unique characteristics of each type of vehicle the employee is expected to operate. When an attachment is used on the truck … then the operator training must include instruction on the safe conduct of those operations.”

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Why does OSHA require forklift operator training?

The goal, obviously, is to minimize the number of injuries to workers who operate powered industrial trucks. According to OSHA, other benefits of an effective training program include “lower cost of compensation insurance, less property damage, and less product damage.”

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Free Ebook

Forklift Safety Checklist

Forklift Safety Checklist

This free, easy-to-use checklist neatly organizes pre-shift inspections, helping forklift operators and warehouse professionals reduce downtime, increase efficiency, save money and stay safe.

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