What Skills Are Taught in a Forklift Certification Class?

If you want a job that requires you to operate a forklift, you must complete a certification training program approved by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Read on to find out more about the skills you will learn during forklift certification courses. Schools offering Industrial Automation Engineering Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Forklift Operator Certification Overview

Operating a forklift, also sometimes called industrial or lift trucks, usually involves using this vehicle to lift, move or stack various types of materials. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), you must complete powered industrial truck training in person or on site to operate a forklift or other industrial vehicle. Companies can offer their own forklift certification programs as long as they comply with OSHA standards. Your employer is required to keep a record of your training and reevaluate your operating and safety skills every three years. People under the age of 18 are not allowed to operate a forklift.

Important Facts About Becoming a Certified Forklift Operator

Online Availability Fully online for recertification, blended format
Possible Careers Industrial truck and tractor operators
Continuing Education MHS, FSS and FOL certificate holders must complete a recertification course every three years to remain certified
Concentrations Material moving machine specializations include crane, dredge and conveyer operation

Forklift Certification Courses

The National Association of Safety Professionals (NASP) offers a Materials Handling Safety (MHS) course and both a Forklift Safety Specialist (FSS) and a Forklift Operator License (FOL) certification, all of which follow the powered industrial truck regulations established by OSHA. Some state governments also offer forklift operator certification through their National Safety Council chapters. A few colleges and technical schools offer certification courses for forklift operators, and some of those also offer OSHA-approved programs that teach company employees how to train their own forklift operators. Because training must be specific to each job site, training is generally tailored to each specific employer.

Aside from the certification courses, additional training is generally not necessary to become a forklift operator. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most employers only require material moving machine operators, including forklift operators, to have a high school diploma.

Forklift Operator Skills

Your training might include both classroom lecture and discussion, training videos and hands-on practical instruction. It focuses on operating procedures, such as how to drive the forklift vehicle and operate the hydraulic lift safely. While your training primarily covers loading and unloading materials, it also includes handling hazardous materials and performing vehicle maintenance. OSHA offers forklift operator training specific to the marine terminal and longshoring industries. Skills you are expected to master during this training include:

  • Following forklift safety guidelines
  • Accounting for visibility restrictions
  • Mastering vehicle controls
  • Steering the vehicle
  • Inspecting and maintaining forklift motor and components
  • Accounting for vehicle capacity and stability
  • Load stacking, unstacking and moving

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