Employers must provide forklift training for each make and model to ensure compliance with OSHS standard

One of the questions we heard from people is should the forklift operator be trained on each make and model?

The answer for this question is NO, you don’t have to. But the employer must give truck-specific training.

Let me explain…

There are many types of forklifts that are used in different kinds of workplaces. They differ in many characteristics such as operational controls and intended use.

For this reason, the employer shall make sure that the operator is certified on that type of truck he’s driving. A counterbalance forklift operator can’t drive an order picker unless he is certified on that truck as well.

The employer need to train the operators on each “type” of truck he is intending to use. (and by “type,” OSHA is referring to the differences - a sit-down rider truck vs. a stand-up truck, or an order-picker vs. a counterbalance.) This is due to obvious reason that each type has its distinctive features and characteristics.

OSHA 1910.178(l)(4) (ii)(D) provision states that operator must undertake refresher training and evaluation if he is assigned to drive different type of truck he is not accustomed with. If the operator has received suitable training about workplace-related topics and the employer decides that it is no longer appropriate, then the employer shall ensure the provision of training in truck-related subjects.

Employers Must Supply the Training

Forklift training is mandatory before an operator can operate the truck. There are two distinctive OSHA provisions requiring such training:

  • 29 CFR 1910.178(l)(1)(i) - The employer shall ensure that each powered industrial truck operator is competent to operate a powered industrial truck safely, as demonstrated by the successful completion of the training and evaluation specified in this paragraph (l). This provision requires the employer to ensure that each operator is to competent enough to operate the forklift safely by providing adequate training and necessary evaluation.

  • And the 29 CFR 1910.178(l)(1)(ii) - Prior to permitting an employee to operate a powered industrial truck (except for training purposes), the employer shall ensure that each operator has successfully completed the training required by this paragraph (l), except as permitted by paragraph (l)(5).

What Are the Forklift-Related Training Topics That Will be Covered?

If you have already supplied the workplace-specific training, you now need to provide truck-related training. We have outlined the OSHA CFR 1910.178 standard, and picked the particular provisions, here they are:

  • 1910.178(l)(3) (i)(A) - it talks about training program, it specifies that the course content must include operating instruction, warnings and precautions for the type of forklift the operator intending to drive.

  • 1910.178(l)(3)(i)(C) - it is about getting used to the forklift’s basic controls and unique instrumentation. The operator must know where they are positioned in the control panel, what action they perform, and how they function in the operation.

  • 1910.178(l)(3)(i)(D) - it is about engine or motor operation. Many forklifts are powered by gasoline, diesel, electric or gas. Operator must know the differences.

  • 1910.178(l)(3)(i)(K) - it is about refueling the tank and/or recharging of the battery. Each truck has its own unique source of power that the operator must be trained to in order to perform such action.

  • 1910.178(l)(3)(i)(E) – the operator must understand the steering and maneuvering that each forklift does during actual operation.

  • 1910.178(l)(3)(i)(L) – emphasizes the operating limitations of each type of truck. Limitation refers to the where the truck can be used whether could it be operated indoor or outdoor, in narrow aisle, or in high foot traffic location.

Different Types of Forklifts/Powered Industrial Trucks:

  • Electric counterbalance forklifts – it emit no exhaust and often use indoor.

  • Narrow-Aisle Lift Trucks – they’re suitable to use in narrow aisle as its name implies. Since its use is primarily indoor, they use electric motor. They come as stand-up rider type of truck.

  • Order Pickers – its primary use is to pick and deliver material needed for filling customer’s order from storage. The operator stands on a platform and moves up with the mast. It requires the operator to wear fall arrest for protection.

  • Electric Powered Hand Trucks or pallet Jacks – It includes the walk-behind and hand-rider jacks.

  • Internal Combustion Fueled Counterbalance Forklifts with Solid Tires – This type of truck is intended to be used in flat concrete or asphalt floor surfaces not in rough roads.

  • Combustion Fueled Counterbalance Forklifts with Pneumatic Tires – This type can be used in unpaved floors or in uneven surfaces but not in rough terrain because of its obvious driving limitation.

  • Tow Vehicles – is tractor-like which could either be electric or internal combustion. These vehicles are the ones used in airports to tow luggage carts. This is a vehicles and do not lift but only aimed to transport loads.

  • Rough Terrain Forklifts – this is commonly utilized outdoors or in construction sites where operator can maximize its purpose. Because of its big tires, it can used in very rough terrain or unimproved roads. There are three kinds of rough terrain trucks: counterbalance, telescopic, and truck-mounted.

To Make a Conclusion

If you need to transport or move heavy loads in the warehouse, the forklift is likely to be the most effective piece of equipment to get the job done. But as oppose to what people believe, not all forklifts are the same.

There are many types of forklifts and each serves a specific purpose and they operate differently from each other as well. For this reason, the employer should provide training specific for each type of forklift and not on make and model.

So now the question is, do your workers receive training specific to the type of truck they are using? If not, give them what they need. It is the employer’s responsibility to provide such training.


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