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How to get your forklift drivers license

How to get your forklift drivers licenseSince December 1, 1999 all operators of industrial lift trucks must be trained and certified in the use of their equipment before being allowed to operate it as part of their job. The training must address both the specific type of equipment they will use and the conditions and characteristics unique to their place of work. In the United States, each year forklifts are responsible for 100 fatalities and 36,340 serious injuries. Considering that nearly 25%* of all these accidents were due in part to improper training, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) set the regulation for all operators to obtain a forklift drivers certification before operating on the job. In this FAQ, you will learn how to get your forklift drivers license.

The only way to get your forklift drivers license is to take an operator training course for the industrial lift truck you will be operating. This can be done in the operator’s facility or in a training classroom off-site. There are options to take an online certification, but the trainee will still need to be evaluated by a certified trainer for hands-on driving. If you plan on using more than one type of industrial lift truck, it is mandatory you are trained on each additional forklift or its class. Industrial forklifts are organized into five main classes:

Step 1: Find a company that offers operator training

The first step in getting your forklift safety and operators certification is to find a company that offers certified training. Most dealers that sell lift trucks can also give you directions on where to go to get all of your operators certified. Raymond Handling Concepts Corporations offers Safety on the Move, a very comprehensive course that can be customized to your own equipment and work site.

Step 2: Prepare for classroom work

The next step in obtaining operator training and a forklift safety program is to prepare for the classroom work. The classroom part of the training can take up to four hours depending on the class. This includes a PowerPoint, videos and instructor. Topics include health and safety and an overview of the lift trucks and operator pre-checklist. Throughout the class you’ll be asked to follow along and take notes. If you didn’t take notes, you’ll be sorry when it comes to the open book exam at the end of the session.

Step 3: Hands-on training

The final step in obtaining your forklift drivers license is the hands-on portion. A certified trainer will go over with you the operator pre-checklist and test your driving skills. Obstacles will be set up for testing maneuverability and you’ll be tested on lifting pallets off the ground and racks. The amount of time spent on this portion varies from operator to operator, depending on a new driver or someone who is well rehearsed in forklift operating.

Once the trainer believes you are comfortable with operating the industrial lift truck, he or she will then sign off on your certificate. The certificate must include the following information:

  1. Name of operator
  2. Date of training
  3. Date of evaluation
  4. Identity of person(s) performing the training or evaluation
  5. Trucks certified on

If you need to acquire operator training contact Raymond Handling Concepts Corporation at 1-800-675-2500 or and we will get you set up with everything you need to obtain your forklift drivers license. It is important to keep in mind that lift truck training program certificates need to be renewed every three years.

* OSHA’s Powered Industrial Trucks – Operator Training. Retrieved from: OSHA Training and Reference Materials Library

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