“How do I get my forklift certificate” is one of the most highly searched keyword phrases in Google that relates to forklift training. It’s not surprising since many regulations and guidelines specifically require that forklift operators receive adequate forklift training.
In many workplaces, forklift operators, coworkers, and pedestrians are exposed to various types of forklift-related hazards. In fact, there are over 100 forklift-related fatalities annually in the US alone. When you consider the risk of working on or around forklifts, requiring that workers receive and maintain a forklift certificate through regular training is not an unreasonable expectation. Bottom line is that high-quality forklift training contributes to reduced injuries and fatalities.
Let’s examine things a bit more closely and figure out what the requirements are for getting a forklift certificate.
What Exactly is a Forklift Certificate?
Before we continue, it’s helpful to clarify what exactly a Forklift certificate is.
A forklift certificate is simply a document that indicates an individual has received some form of forklift information, instruction or training. The intention of a forklift certificate is to “certify” that the individual named on it is knowledgeable and competent in the forklift topics presented. This is just one piece of the puzzle in becoming a competent forklift operator. More on this later.
Forklift certificates come in many different forms. The two most common types are in the form of an 8.5 X 11-inch document and a wallet card.
Forklift Certificates in the form of wallet cards are extremely convenient since they can be carried around more easily than a large 8.5 x 11 document. This is especially important if your employer or local jurisdiction’s safety and health organization requires that you carry the document with you while operating your machine.
Additionally, forklift certificates can be physical documents or in some form of electronic format. Forklift certificates which are issued for forklift training taken online are usually in PDF format.
Forklift certificates are also sometimes called different names including forklift card, forklift papers, and even forklift license. Regardless of what they’re called, as mentioned, there are simply meant to indicate that the individual named on the certificate is knowledgeable in forklift operations and safety.
Are All Forklift Certificates Created Equal?
Does having any old forklift certificate satisfy the many requirements and guidelines as set forth by OSHA, the American National Standards Institute(ANSI), and the Canadian Standards Association (CSA)? The answer is no.
There are currently several different methods for getting your forklift certificate, and most revolve around receiving some type of information, instruction, training, and education. There are many factors that affect the quality of forklift training that you can take.
It’s important that regardless of the method you choose, you be very selective, and ensure that you receive training that is of a very high quality.
If you’re taking the training with your employer, be sure to ask a lot of questions, and be actively involved during the training.
If you’re taking the training from an external provider, make sure that they’re reputable, and that their training is current and up to date. The training should be designed in alignment with a reputable and recognized forklift-specific standards such as the CSA B335 or ANSI B56 standards
Specific Ways to Get Your Forklift Certificate
Adequate forklift training is required to get a legitimate forklift certificate. Of course, there are MANY different methods and sources of forklift training, and the method that you choose to get your forklift certificate is dependent on many factors.
Here are some of the most common methods of training that can result in you receiving your forklift certificate.
Classroom-based Forklift Training
Classroom-based forklift training is one of the most traditional methods of obtaining your forklift certificate. This type of training usually takes place in either the workplace or at the location of an external training provider. It often contains lecture components and is supplemented with some type of presentation media such as a PowerPoint presentation.
If facilitated correctly, this method of forklift training can be very effective. Classroom-based forklift training works best when high-quality supplementary training materials are used, and especially when participants are engaged throughout the sessions. A workshop format that encourages group discussion revolving on workplace specific applications is ideal.
There are some downfalls associated with classroom-based forklift training. On of the main downfalls is that it usually takes much longer than some of the new methods of training. Some forklift training classes can take several days to complete effectively.
Another downfall is the difficulties in making operators available for classroom sessions without disrupting operations. It can be very difficult to schedule training that includes all required personnel. This results in the necessity to put on many sessions to ensure everyone is trained and can result in workers being missed.
Consistency can also be an issue with classroom-based training. Even when using the same instructor for each training session, it’s difficult to deliver the same, consistent message to each group of participants.
Video-based Forklift Training
Many companies use video-based forklift training to certify their operators. Video-based training can be very effective if using a high-quality video that is compliant and aligned with recognized standards.
Video-based forklift training can typically be done quicker than classroom-based training if it uses established instructional design methods.
As with every method, video-based forklift training has its downfalls. For instance, it lacks the interactivity that comes with high-quality classroom-based training or some of the newer online forklift training courses.
Self-Teach Forklift Training
Self-teach programs are usually in the form of a forklift workbook or manual that a learner is required to complete on their own. The effectiveness of self-teach programs can vary depending on a lot of factors. One challenge is ensuring that participants remain motivated while reviewing the content.
This method is sometimes combined with classroom-based training to create a blended approach. This works well as it has the benefits of both, but eliminates some of the downfalls. For instance, an instructor is available to answer questions immediately and can help to keep the participant engaged while they review the material.
This method tends to result in “lingering” and prolonged learning. If you use this method to obtain your forklift certificate, you should complete the training in a reasonable amount of time.
Online Forklift Training
Online forklift training is quickly becoming one of the most popular and convenient methods for receiving a forklift certificate. The many benefits include very reasonable pricing, the ability to take the training at your own pace, the ability to take the training from anywhere, and instantly accessing your forklift certificate once you successfully complete the training. Many online forklift training courses can be completed in just a few hours.
Again, as with all methods, there are downfalls with online training as well.
One downfall is the difficulty in choosing from the vast amount of online forklift training providers. While many are reputable and provide great training, others are not. If you choose to get your forklift certificate via online training, make sure that you choose a provider that is reputable and that the training is developed in alignment with one of the standards that we’ve previously discussed.
Here’s a great article where you can read about some of the things you need to look for when considering getting your forklift certificate via online training: Requirements of The Best Online Forklift Training
Forklift Training Knowledge Evaluation
Adequate forklift training that results in the issuance of a forklift certificate must have some type of evaluation. The evaluation, often referred to as an assessment, quiz, test or exam, must challenge the learner to ensure that they’ve successfully retained the required forklift knowledge. This ensures compliance and due diligence. More importantly, it ensures that the operator possesses important knowledge that will help keep them safe, and injury-free while operating their equipment.
Do You Need to Always Carry Your Forklift Certificate?
Whether an operator is required to carry their forklift certificate with them while operating equipment is also a common question.
Currently, there’s nothing in the legislation that requires that a worker keeps their forklift certificate in their possession at all times while at work.This doesn’t mean, however, that no records of training are required.
Remember, it’s ultimately an employer’s responsibility to ensure that their workers have received adequate training. It’s also their responsibility to ensure that they maintain adequate training records that clearly demonstrate that their operators have received forklift training.
Many employees do choose to issue forklift certificates specifically for this reason. They are supplementary to maintaining knowledge evaluations, and other important training records.
Moreover, many employers will require that you carry your certificate with you while operating your forklift.
The Cost of Getting Your Forklift Certificate
The costs associated with getting your forklift certificate can vary significantly.
In many cases, your employer will be providing the training for you, and it won’t cost you anything. In other cases, you may need to obtain the training on your own.
forklift training should not only be affordable but provide extremely high value. In fact, most of the time, the value is more important than price!
What exactly are you getting for your money when you pay for forklift training. You shouldn’t think of it as simply buying a forklift certificate. There are many factors that can increase the value of your forklift training purchase. Is both a forklift certificate and a wallet card included in the price? If they are, how often can you view and print them? How long can you access them for – does access expire at some point? Is a digital badge included after you complete the course? What if you don’t pass the exam the first time; can you take it again for free?
These are all things to be considered that can significantly increase the value of your purchase. Do your research and find a reputable provider that offers you the most value for your money.
Workplace Specific Forklift Training
Many of the methods available to get your forklift certificate do not include workplace specific training. Even employers sometimes offer classroom-based training alone and provide forklift certificates to the participants once complete.
Workplace specific and practical training will take place on the Jobsite and will be completed by the employer. During this portion of the training, operators will become familiarized with information specific to the worksite, and practice on specific equipment that they’ll be required to operate.
Workplace specific training will include:
- Reviewing and understanding company policies, procedures, guidelines, and the equipment’s operator’s manual
- Becoming familiarized with equipment’s specific features and safety equipment
- Performing pre-operational inspections
- Performing startups and shutdowns
- Practicing traveling with and without loads
- Practicing various types of load handling
- Learning about hazards that are specific to the workplace
Once workplace specific training is completed, an employer will conduct a practical skills evaluation to ensure an operator is competent and can perform the required tasks in a safe manner.
Now you know all about forklift certificates, and what you need to do to get yours.
Remember, it’s more than just getting your forklift certificate; it’s about learning how to be safe, and how to protect yourself and your coworkers from hazards at work. Good forklift training will literally arm you with the knowledge and tools you need to prevent damage, serious injuries, and even death. Please, take it seriously.