Why Does Forklift Certification Have to be Continually Renewed?
Both OSHA and most state governments have strict rules concerning forklift training and certification. It is a violation of federal law for an unqualified person to drive a forklift, and fines can be anywhere from $7,000-$70,000 depending on whether a person is simply caught operating such a vehicle without the corre3ct training, or if an accident occurs during unauthorized operation.
Forklifts qualify as “industrial trucks”, the operation of which OSHA is very specific about, stating that "Every employer using industrial trucks must comply with safety requirements..." and that operators must be “competent to operate a powered industrial truck safely, as demonstrated by successful completion of the training and evaluation specified in the OSHA standard.”
Two of OSHA’s training requirements make it clear that it is first and foremost the employer’s responsibility to train, test, evaluate and authorize every one of their forklift operators, not the responsibility of the employee to seek out and get such training, and OSHA strongly recommends that employers do this yearly – even though the requirement is only for every three years.
Why is recertifying your forklift drivers such an important annual responsibility? Simply put, frequent training reduces forklift accidents – of which there are sadly many each year. Most deaths involve a forklift overturning due to improper handling, crush injuries from unsecured materials falling off of a forklift, or deaths from workers on the ground being run over by a forklift.
Devoting just a few hours each year per operator can help make sure they all are well aware of forklift best practices, and greatly reduce the chances of an accident involving injury or death. The following benefits also apply:
- New forklift operation and technology can be covered in up to date classes annually, giving workers trained on older machines the new skills they may need if your company upgrades.
- In addition to operational training, forklift classes also cover machine checklists and your workers will get in the habit of spotting problems before they become dangerous issues.
Since all companies that have even just one forklift in operation must be OSHA-compliant, it’s important that you make sure every person who might ever be called upon to operate a forklift stay current.
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