OSHA Forklift Training: What Should You Expect?
Are you interested in becoming a forklift operator? Are you familiar with the OSHA forklift training standards? Did you know that 2020 saw 78 deaths and 7,290 injuries from forklift accidents?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a U.S. government agency. Its mission is to create safe working conditions for all Americans.
To operate a forklift, you must complete OSHA-required training and become certified. Keep reading to learn more about this certification.
OSHA Forklift Training
OSHA sets the forklift operator certification rules but they don't provide training. You must choose a reputable training company to complete your coursework. This may occur in-person or online.
Forklift OSHA training has two parts. The first involves completing an OSHA-approved course of study and taking an exam.
Second, you'll have on-the-job training and testing. After successful completion, you're certified. The OSHA training topics include:
Types of Forklift Classes
The type of forklift impacts the skills and knowledge needed for safe operation. The following describes the six common classes of forklifts.
Class I: Electric Motor Rider Trucks
These vehicles are often used indoors. They're battery powered so they don't create harmful emissions. Cushioned tires and counterbalance features make them suitable for driving on smooth surfaces.
This type of forklift, also called a pallet jack, typically loads, unloads, or moves pallets. They're often found in warehouses and other indoor facilities.
Class II: Electric Motor Narrow Aisle Trucks
This describes another type of battery-operated electric vehicle. It's narrower than the Class I forklifts which allows it to move in tight spaces. Thus, you often find this kind used to maneuver items in warehouse aisles.
These forklifts are also ideal for use as order pickers and outrigger or reach trucks. They're equipped with a high or low lift platform.
Class III: Electric Motor Hand/Rider or Hand Trucks
Class III describes hand-operated forklifts, also called pallet jacks as well. You'll find these used to unload items from tractor-trailers.
Some have sit-down operation models and others require the user to walk behind them. They can lift loads low and high and have counterbalances.
Class IV: Internal Combustion Engine Trucks with Solid/Cushioned Tires
This class of forklift has solid, cushioned tires and counterbalance mechanisms. They're powered by an engine that uses fuel such as gasoline.
You'll find these forklifts used for transferring loads between warehouses and docks. The tires on these vehicles are low profile so the forklift is closer to the ground. This makes it ideal for driving under low clearances.
Class V: Internal Combustion Engine Trucks with Pneumatic Tires
Like Class IV forklifts, they use fueled engines and are counterbalanced. They're mostly used outdoors and sometimes in large warehouses.
This forklift's pneumatic tires allow it to move over uneven ground. It's able to support many loads ranging from pallets to large containers.
Class VII: Rough Terrain Forklift Trucks
This class includes forklifts with tractor-style tires that can navigate over rough terrain. These diesel-powered engine vehicles can lift material to extended heights. You'll often see them used at construction sites and lumberyards.
Please note, if you're trained on a sit-down operated forklift you aren't qualified for a stand-up model. Thus, it's valuable to know about the different classes of vehicles.
Comprehensive Forklift Operation
This part of your course work and skills practice focuses on operating the forklift. You'll learn about the vehicle's controls, maintenance, and capacity. Training will also emphasize precautions to optimize everyone's safety.
This training includes:
- Differences between automobiles and trucks
- Requirements for the forklift's nameplate and data plate.
- Location of information about the forklift, such as capacity and fuel type
- Forklift controls and instruments, what they do, and how they work
- Motor and engine operation
- Forklift steering and maneuvering
- Visibility issues including restrictions related to the load
- Fork and attachment adaptations, operations, and limitation of its class
- Factors impacting vehicle stability
- Precautions and warnings for the specific forklift class certification
- Responsibilities for required forklift maintenance and inspections
- Proper charging and recharging batteries and/or refueling
Training should always focus on the forklift class the individual will operate.
Forklift certification courses must address specific hazards related to your workplace. This includes the forklift class you'll operate and job tasks. You may need training on several different trucks and/or locations.
This training addresses the surface conditions of operation. Examples include narrow aisles, restricted size areas, ramps, and slopes. Another surface condition that may occur in your workplace is the presence of pedestrians.
You'll learn to stack, maneuver, and unstack loads. The training explains how the load composition impacts stability.
Environmental hazards safety precautions are also addressed. This includes specific locations and working in closed spaces or areas with poor ventilation. Proper truck maintenance can reduce the buildup of diesel exhaust or carbon monoxide.
OSHA Forklift Inspection Guideline Training
OSHA dictates specific rules for forklift safety inspections. Your training will address how to properly perform this task to reduce risks.
These regulations state that forklifts must undergo an inspection each day. If the truck is in continuous operation, the survey should take place at the end of each shift. Before starting work, you must complete two full inspections.
Walk around the truck and evaluate the engine, fluids, forks, tires, hoses, belts, and data plate. Next, sit in the driver's seat and test the operating condition of all controls. This includes the brakes, horn, gauges, seatbelt, and steering.
Who Needs Forklift OSHA Safety Training?
Only fully trained and certified workers may independently operate forklifts. New employees with experience and a certification card, don't need full training. Employers can evaluate their skills and provide workplace-specific education.
All forklift operators must undergo repeat OSHA safety training every three years. Anyone involved in an accident or near-miss needs to complete a refresher course. This also includes any user seen practicing unsafe forklift operations.
Retraining must take place when any truck class or workplace changes occur.
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OSHA training online courses provide access 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Certification is granted after the successful course and exam completion. They can immediately print a certificate and a wallet card.
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