Federal law requires anyone responsible for forklift operation to complete an OSHA-approved forklift training program. If you need to learn how to operate a forklift, you can learn many of the basic procedures on the job, but will need to complete a formal forklift safety training and operations program at a training center or through your employer. Some employers pay for their employees to complete a forklift operation training program and complete an evaluation that leads to certification.

Learning How to Operate a Forklift

The first step in learning how to operate a forklift is to complete a forklift safety training program and get your forklift license. These programs provide extensive classroom and hands-on instruction in areas of fork lift physics, lift truck operation, fork lift safety features and protocol, forklift maintenance, refueling and recharging of the vehicle and other procedures as required by OSHA. Some employers and organizations also adopt some Federal guidelines for forklift safety and operations and may offer an expanded curriculum.

Forklift operation goes beyond learning how to maneuver the vehicle over different types of terrain. Most of these specialized training programs focus on safety protocol and safety measures; loading and unloading procedures; refueling instructions for different types of forklifts; and general warehouse and construction site safety protocol.

In order to learn how to operate a forklift successfully, you will need to complete classroom theory training and practical hands-on training. You will learn about the main parts of a forklift, applicable regulations, basic safety procedures, types of fuel and batteries, and will also need to demonstrate a certain level of operation competence in order to get a certificate or license.

Trained and professional forklift drivers are prepared to handle emergency situations, know how to load and unload hazardous materials, and can also conduct safety checks on a regular basis.

Forklift Operation Training Programs

Many construction site employers and organizations offer annual forklift training programs and refresher courses for employees to ensure everyone is complying with the various standards, rules and regulations dictated by OSHA and Federal organizations.

Federal law requires that all forklifts used after February 15, 1972 must meet the design and construction requirements for powered industrial trucks established in the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Standard for Powered Industrial Trucks, Part II, ANSI B56.1-1969, except for vehicles intended primarily for earth moving and over-the-road hauling projects.

Most forklift operation training programs include the following key subjects and areas of training:

  • Basic Forklift Responsibilities
  • Inspection Protocol
  • Fuel Handling and Storage Guidelines
  • Forklift Safety Procedures and Protocol
  • Forklift Operation Guidelines
  • Handling and Moving Loads
  • Safe Steering

Cost of Forklift Operation Training Programs

Forklift operation training program fees vary significantly depending on the training facility or training group. As of March 2011, some one-day training programs cost about $250 while weeklong workshops and longer training programs may cost several hundred dollars. In many cases, the cost of the program will be covered by the employer. Some organizations do offer low-cost training DVDs and CD-ROMs. Private training consultants are available for certain types of forklifts.

If you want to take a forklift operator training program online, you may need to pay for some or all of the costs on your own. Check with your employer for information on what types of training programs are covered by the company before you enroll.