If you want to work in the construction field and operate a forklift, you will need to complete a formal forklift training program. Forklift training programs provide both hands-on and classroom training so that students can learn OSHA rules and regulations, and be confident behind the wheel. These programs help the operator learn how to drive and operate some of today's most popular styles of forklifts and other construction equipment, and can lead to certification. Even though many employers offer on-the-job training, most employers only hire those who hold forklift driver training certification or have completed a formal, OSHA-approved program.

Completing Forklift Training

Most professional forklift truck training programs are only available through heavy equipment training and construction training schools. These schools typically have several forklifts and vehicles on site for students to learn the basic controls and techniques, and also drive on protected roadways and sites for practice. In addition to learning how to operate the forklift and other types of machinery, students learn how to identify health and safety hazards on their construction site, how to resolve problems that arise during forklift operations, and how to ensure workplace safety on and off a construction onsite.

Some of the key concepts and lessons learned with a formal forklift training program include:

  • Pre-shift inspection procedures
  • Legal, moral and ethical obligations related to industrial forklifts and trucks
  • Responsibilities of forklift owners, employers, supervisors and workers
  • Legislation, fines and penalties as outlined by OSHA
  • Stability triangle and trapezoid techniques
  • Responding to emergency situations when using an Industrial Forklift Truck
  • Driving rules and requirements for driving forklifts

The general training requirements for all types of forklift training and OSHA forklift training programs are to complete formal training through lectures, video correspondence or interactive computer courses, practical training with demonstrations and exercises, and have an employer certify that the operator has successfully completed the training program.

Drivers may need to take refresher courses in this subject if they are involved in an accident, have been observed using the forklift in an unsafe manner, a work evaluation has determined that the driver needs additional training, or when there are significant workplace changes that affect how the driver operates the vehicle. OSHA does require that even temporary employees complete a formal forklift truck training program in order to operate forklifts and other types of construction vehicles.

Forklift Driver Training Classes

Some of the most common types of courses and classes required in a forklift driver training program include:

  • Workplace hazards and occupational safety requirements
  • Floor and aerial or scissor lift operation and safety protocol
  • OSHA compliance
  • Types of operating lifts
  • Lift capacity parameters
  • Hazards and controls
  • Forklift and machinery inspections
  • Emergency response requirements

Some forklift training universities do offer online training programs, but the hands-on portion must be completed at an approved training center in the student's area. Distance learning programs may include DVDs, CD-ROMs and access to online interactive training modules.

OSHA Forklift Training and Forklift Operator Training Programs

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) maintains the general regulatory standards for forklift drivers on its own online training site. Most drivers can complete this training program in a couple of hours and can submit all registration, training and test information directly over the web. There is a fee for this service, but once complete, the driver will receive OSHA certification. The hands-on portion of the test and training must be completed at a nearby approved facility.