Answers to your questions

Frequently asked questions

Do I have to complete forklift training each year to remain certified?

No. Refresher training only needs to be conducted when operators are found to be operating unsafely, have been in an accident or near miss, receive a poor evaluation, or when there are changes in the workplace or type of truck. OSHA does, however, require an evaluation of each powered industrial truck operator’s performance at least once every three years.

Do I need forklift operator training for each type of make and model?

No, not necessarily. But, you have to train on each “type” of truck. By “type,” OSHA is talking about basic differences - a sit-down rider truck vs. a stand-up truck, or an order-picker vs. a pallet jack. OSHA doesn’t intend that you have to give refresher training because someone starts using the same type of truck made by a different manufacturer. But, keep in mind that the operator will need instruction on any topics, such as the truck’s controls, that are different.

Do I have to have a valid driver's license to be a powered industrial truck operator?

Federal OSHA has no requirement that a forklift operator have a valid driver’s license. OSHA does require that every forklift operator be trained and certified to operate the powered industrial truck in the workplace, and that the operator’s performance be evaluated on the provisions of 1910.178(l)(3) every three years. The employer must have a record documenting that the driver has successfully completed the training. That is the only operating "license" required by OSHA.

Would a written exam alone (i.e., without practical operation of the truck) suffice for the required 3-year operator evaluation?

The "evaluation" of "performance" required by the OSHA standard cannot be met by a written exam alone. A written exam by itself does not indicate whether the operator is operating the powered industrial truck safely. In most cases, the person conducting the evaluation would do two things: first, observe the powered industrial truck operator during normal operations to determine if the operator is performing safely, and second, ask pertinent questions to ensure that the operator has the knowledge or experience needed to operate a truck safely. In some cases, because of the danger or complexity of the operation, the extent of the change in conditions, or the operator's need for additional skills, the evaluation will need to be lengthier and more detailed.

Is a vision and/or hearing test required before an employee may operate a forklift?

Federal OSHA's powered industrial truck standard does not specifically address vision/hearing requirements for operators. However, even though Federal OSHA doesn't specifically address it in the regulation, there are obviously some potential concerns and safety issues and these need to be evaluated in light of the specific operations. Ultimately up to each employer (with a physician's guidance, if you choose) to determine if an employee can operate the forklift in a safe manner, both for himself and his coworkers. Please note that, aside from OSHA, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) may be involved as it prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals with disabilities in employment. ADA-related situations must be handled on a case-by-case basis. Like OSHA, the ADA requires that, when determining whether an employee can, with or without reasonable accommodation, perform the essential functions of the job, it is to be done in regard to a particular individual employee, and not require all employees who operate a forklift to undergo such. Such a blanket application may not be job-related and consistent with business necessity, which is an important consideration in evaluating ADA-related situations.