Why Should You Obtain a Forklift Certificate?

September 22, 2016

If you are seeking a job in the warehouse industry or any of a dozen other fields where forklift operation is necessary, you may be wondering “Do I need a forklift certificate?”

 According to OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) requirements, the answer is yes – whether you’re working for a small or large company, you must have authorization from your employer to operate a forklift as well as forklift certification.

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Why? Consider the forklift as a large, moving vehicle – it’s a piece of heavy, ambulatory equipment, with risks comparable to those of any drivable vehicle. Forklifts are used on both private and public grounds, and it only makes sense to mitigate risk by requiring some sort of training.

Forklift operators are trained and certified to ensure they know how to safely and properly load and unload the forklift, how to properly stack and tier boxes to be moved, how to inspect and maintain the equipment, and how to steer and maneuver the forklift. The purpose of a forklift certification is primarily to increase safety and reduce accidents, injuries, and death.

Forklift operators must obtain a forklift certification and renew the certificate every three years at minimum. Renewal is also required if the operator is involved in a forklift accident, if the equipment or the environment in which it is used is altered, or if the operator is found to have been using or driving the forklift unsafely. 

Getting your forklift certificate is beneficial in many ways:

*  Forklift operators who are certified earn more than non-certified forklift operators, since they can legally operate forklifts.

*  Having your forklift certification prior to applying for a position that may require it can increase your chances of landing the job against other applicants who are not yet certified. 

*  Keeping your certification up to date increases safety for yourself as well those around you, such as people walking through your work area.

*  Knowing how to properly operate and maintain forklifts increases your value as an employee, even if your position doesn’t directly require certification.

Employers have every reason to ensure their forklift operators are certified – in addition to cutting down on their risk of an accident or injury, OSHA carries the authority to fine an employer $7,000 for every uncertified forklift operator, up $70,000 in cases of proven willful negligence.

If a forklift involved accident occurs, and the forklift operator was not certified, insurance companies can refuse to pay claims, leading to lawsuits against a small business or company which can cause bankruptcy. Having every member of the team that might need to operate a forklift obtain certification is well worth the hassle – and many companies are even willing to foot the bill for your training!

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