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Forklifts: Powered Industrial Trucks

Forklifts, officially known as powered industrial trucks, are used across many industries to move materials. They are also used to raise, lower, or remove large objects or small objects as long as they are in a container like a box or crate or arranged on a pallet. Forklifts can be operated in two ways: in a seated or standing position. Forklift training is often tailored specifically to the type of forklift, like stand up or sit down forklifts.

Other types of forklifts include:

  • Counterbalance forklifts
  • Narrow-aisle lift truck
  • Order pickers
  • Pallet jacks
  • Tow vehicles
  • Rough terrain forklifts

Please note, forklift operators must be certified for the type of truck they operate and forklift training in one type of forklift does not mean an employee can operate all types.

Is Forklift Training Necessary?

It is a common misconception that a basic driver’s license is enough to operate a forklift. However, a forklift is very different than driving a truck or car. A forklift’s steering wheel is located in the back of the vehicle, not the front. In addition, the mishandling of a forklift due to improper safety training can result in dangerous onsite accidents when loading, transporting, and unloading items.

Forklift Safety Training

The most important reason to obtain forklift training is to avoid unwanted onsite accidents that can seriously harm employees or materials. Since each type of forklift presents its own safety hazard, it’s important to choose the right training for the forklift you will operate. Other types of hazards relate to the workplace type and conditions, such as uneven work surface or the chance of harming pedestrians.

The most common types of workplace injuries occur when: 

  • Forklifts are inadvertently driven off loading docks
  • Lifts fall between docks and an unsecured trailer
  • Employee is struck by a lift truck
  • Employee falls while on elevated pallets and tines

OSHA Forklift Training

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, requires that all forklift operators obtain the necessary safety training. As stated on their website:

It is a violation of Federal law for anyone UNDER 18 years of age to operate a forklift or for anyone OVER 18 years of age who is not properly trained and certified to do so.

Since many insurances require that employees be trained to operate a forklift, many businesses benefit from offering their employees OSHA-approved forklift training.

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