Forklifts are an important part of any warehouse. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the authority on all aspects of safety and healthy working conditions for workers across the US. It enforces standards and provides training, outreach, education, and assistance. OSHA classifies forklifts into seven different classes(1). They are
- Electric Motor Rider Trucks
- Electric Motor Narrow Aisle Trucks
- Electric Motor Hand Trucks or Hand/Rider Trucks
- Internal Combustion Engine Trucks with Solid or Cushion Tires
- Internal Combustion Engine Trucks with Pneumatic Trucks
- Electric and Internal Combustion Engine Tractors
- Rough Terrain Forklift Trucks
Given the number of forklifts and the variety of uses, including the variety of terrains that they would be used for, it is normal to require operators who know what they are doing. Accidents from forklifts can become pretty gruesome. Most of these accidents can be attributed to handler carelessness or the operator being inexperienced with that particular forklift. Just because an operator knows how to handle one type of forklift, doesn’t mean he’s naturally good at operating other types of forklifts as well.
Why is a Forklift Certification Important?
Forklift certification mitigates the dangers that employees face in the workplace. It ensures forklift operators are trained, and they understand the risks involved in working with a forklift. Several studies show that businesses that implement proper training programs suffer fewer accidents at the workplace. The same studies also showed that businesses that offer heavy-machinery operators training programs and pre-shift inspections reduced their accident rate by a significant margin.
Forklifts can also be classified under heavy machinery. Pre-shift inspections also help in identifying any maintenance issues that can affect the forklift life, confirm the operator’s sobriety and mental condition for operation, and forklift’s downtime.
What are the Eligibility Criteria?
Every forklift operator needs to get certified by the law. OSHA 1910.178 (i)(6) requires all operators to be certified before operating a forklift, a truck or handling any warehouse product. A part of this training is to ensure the evaluation and completion of training before handling any industrial forklifts. This certification is actually just a certificate or an operator card. Having this card testifies that the operator has been suitably trained and is ready to operate that particular type of forklift.
OSHA requires this certification. It also reduces the liability on the employers when inspectors come around the workplace.
What are the Levels or Modules in This Certification?
One common question is ‘how to become forklift certified?’ The answer to this is remarkably simple: Just attend a one-day or a two-day training session, pass the hands-on evaluation, and pass any written test. The last one depends on who is providing the training. Formal instructional training on forklift operation must be provided. This could be in the form of a video, a lecture, online training courses, written materials, or study guides. Several training providers purport to provide the certification online. Without experience in the field, the certification would not be valid.
After the training is completed, there must be an evaluation of the operator performance that’s in line with OSHA 1910.178 standards. So, the questions ‘How can I get a forklift license near me?’ or ‘Where can I find a forklift training near me?’ or ‘forklift licensing near me?’ are all questions without a straightforward answer. OSHA itself does not conduct any training. It just requires businesses to do so. The employee may get a certification on his own, or his employer may provide it for him. Hearing and vision tests are important for forklift operators. Just having a driving license doesn’t make an employee eligible for driving a forklift.
What is the Cost of This Forklift Driver Certification?
If an employer were to order the kit for training, it would cost him about $300. Employees themselves can get certified before they seek employment as forklift drivers. By themselves, employees can get certified; the fee may range from $150 – $200. This training session could be obtained at any college or training institute. Some community colleges offer this training free of cost.
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What are the Pay Prospects and Job Opportunities?
The average salary for forklift operators is around $18 per hour. Entry-level wages for the operators are between $12 – $14. That averages out to about $25000 – $29000. More experienced forklift operators earn about $37000 annually. When training new operators, only those trainers who have had experience handling the equipment can act as trainers. This training certificate expires after three years. That means employees must recertify themselves every three years. Companies should maintain a record of all training and the details associated with those training.
The legal implications of not training or not maintaining a record can be devastating for the company. Just like any other job, forklift operators depend on the experience and the knowledge they have to progress higher and earn higher. Working in a factory allows the operators to understand the lay of the land better. As they become more used to the layout and operating the forklift, they’ll become more comfortable, and that reduces the chances of dangers or risks.
Where to Get Online Resources for Forklift Driver Certification?
In most cases, the employer themselves will provide the certification while being employed. However, some might require you to have a certification already and will only offer recertification. In that case, you have several offline training providers that provide you with the certification. You can also find several community colleges that offer the course. Apart from this, MCFA, Certify Me, and other reputed providers also offer the training services.