It has been a federal law since 1969 that all operators be trained and evaluated prior to operating a lift truck. In 1999, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) updated its requirements to include specific subject areas that must be covered during training. Although these training procedures are federally mandated, the responsibility of ensuring each employee is trained is that of the employer and often is undertaken by the facility or safety manager.
Lift truck training programs often require dynamic and proactive elements to ensure operators fully understand the responsibilities and obligations of operating a material handling vehicle. That means it is important for the operator to not only understand the technical aspects of lift truck operation, which can be conveyed in a classroom, but also to receive hands-on training and evaluation.
For Veterans and Newbies
New lift truck operators as well as employees who may have been trained at another company require training by their current employer. According to OSHA, when a company hires an experienced lift truck operator, the company must still evaluate this person to ensure that the previous training was appropriate for his or her new environment.
OSHA does say that “if the operator has operated the same type of equipment before in the same type of environment that he/she will be expected to be working, then additional training is not required.” If the operator is found to be competent in most areas but may need updates on some specific areas of training, refresher training is an option that will avoid covering topics the employee is already familiar with. In addition, refresher training will ensure that any previously trained employees have received updated training on aspects of lift truck operation that are pertinent to his or her new work environment.
OSHA mandates that all lift truck operators be re-evaluated and recertified at least once every three years.
A training program should also be aligned with company policies and supported, promoted and reinforced by management to ensure proper lift truck operation. The program should be reviewed and updated regularly to reflect changes in the workplace. Every workplace is different, so training must be customized to the actual conditions the operator will experience and pertinent to the trucks the operator will use.