Forklift certification is an important requirement for virtually all industries, outside of agriculture. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that forklift operators are trained and certified prior to being employed. Employers can provide training and certification for operators, or employees can find training on their own. Often, the question of free forklift certification arises – is it actually worth your time? How does it stack up to paid forklift certification?
What’s Free Forklift Certification All About?
First, understand that there are free certification programs out there, but they’re not exactly what you would call “quality”. They also do not meet legislative requirements, which means that they result in paper certifications only. An employee would not pass an exam, nor would the certification hold up under scrutiny if OSHA decided to challenge it. It’s a far better idea to get a legitimate online certification from a reputable provider, rather than attempting to obtain free forklift certification.
Whose Responsibility Is Forklift Training?
According to OSHA, it is the employer’s responsibility to provide training for anyone who will work for them as a forklift driver. However, aspiring lift operators can take it on their own to obtain forklift certification outside of any employer. This can make them a more appealing job candidate, and shorten the wait time for hiring. However, it’s possible that an employer will require any newly hired lift operator to undergo an evaluation prior to starting work to ensure they have the training necessary to operate a forklift safely.
Is Licensure Required?
In many fields, completing a training course is one step in the process of obtaining professional licensure. That is not the case with forklift certification. While employers may choose to provide a “license” to trained operators, OSHA does not require licensure, nor does the organization provide licenses to those who complete a forklift certification program.
Why Choose a Reputable Online Forklift Certification?
Why choose a reputable online forklift certification program rather than a free forklift certification program? There are quite a few reasons, actually.
Meets Requirements: Perhaps the most important reason to avoid a free forklift certification program is that you have no guarantee that the program is complete and that it meets OSHA requirements. If the certification doesn’t hold up under OSHA scrutiny, it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on, and certainly not worth the time required to obtain it.
Required Training Topics: A reputable online forklift certification program will provide the training you need to operate a forklift safely, or for your potential employees to do so. The major areas of instruction include the following:
Missing any one of these areas means that the operator would not have received important information. The safe operation of the forklift would be jeopardized, and it would also conceivably create an unsafe work environment and pose a threat to co-workers, to stock/material being moved, and more.
How to Ensure You’re Working with the Right Training Provider
How do you ensure that you’re working with a reputable forklift certification provider? Other than avoiding free forklift certification courses, you should consider the following when choosing a training provider:
OSHA Compliant – Any training provider that focuses on lift truck training should not only understand OSHA’s requirements but ensure that their training program meets them. This should be displayed prominently on the company’s website, as well. If you do not see any notation of OSHA compliance, chances are good that you need to find another training provider.
ANSI Compliant – OSHA requirements are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. You also need to ensure that the training provider you choose is ANSI compliant. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) helps to develop standards for trades, processes, systems and more. Compliance with their requirements means that the forklift certification program is in line with industry best practices.
Accurate Online Training – It’s important that the forklift certification provider you choose provides high-quality, accurate online training. It should take multiple forms, as well. For instance, while some of the training material should be in text form, other aspects should also include animated graphics, video training and a great deal more. Using multiple training material formats ensures that all aspects are covered thoroughly, and provides trainees with a comprehensive education. Note that it is also important that the program be 100% online – training programs that include both an in-person and an online component can be expensive and very time-consuming.
Quiz Retakes – Finally, the online forklift certification program you choose should offer the ability to retake quizzes as many times as necessary in order to ensure that the tester has fully retained the information being taught and is able to operate a forklift safely.
When everything is said and done, free forklift certification might sound like an excellent opportunity, but there is simply too much ambiguity here. Does the program actually cover everything it should? Is it OSHA compliant? Is it ANSI compliant? Chances are good that the answer to most of these questions is no.
It’s a far better idea to complete an online forklift certification program from a reputable provider. This will ensure that you (or your employees) have the skills necessary to safely operate a forklift, park it, maintain it, handle various types of loads, and more. Plus, you’ll have the peace of mind that comes from completing a training and certification program that complies with federal and state government mandates.