Some clarification is in order to clear up this misinformation that has been around far too long.
Okay so this has been bugging me for a long long time. Every time I turn around and read a job add looking for a “Certified or Licensed” Forklift Operator. I can understand where the certification confusion comes in but the license part? Well sure if you go overseas there are countries that license everything from truck drivers, cabbies and service providers but not so much here in the United States.
Let’s debunk a very old myth that has been hanging around for far too long! When you advertise an open position for a Forklift Operator you are perpetuating the myth if you use the following verbiage: Wanted Certified Forklift Operator Wanted Licensed Forklift Operator
Both of these are false flags and show you lack the proper information regarding this occupation. How can I claim this? Simple. In the United States there are no licenses* (note exception below) to operate forklifts. The term Certified is also being confused during the hiring process.
Allow me to explain. If you require an employee to operate one of the seven classifications of Power Industrial Trucks/forklifts at your operation(s) it is an OSHA requirement the operators be provided safety training in accordance with OSHA standard 1910.178. No exception. In a proper training program a manager or managers are designated to oversee the company program. Also listed in the program is person(s) that are responsible for the Evaluation of the operators. This is very important because this is where certification comes into play and where the confusion comes in. The person or manager that completes the final evaluation of an operator CERTIFIES said operator has successfully completes XYZ’s forklift safety training program, is authorized to operate specific class or classes of equipment, and has demonstrated they can operate them SAFELY. If that operator leaves the employment of XYZ Company and goes to work for ABC Company the previous certification is now null and void. Now ABC must have the operator complete their forklift safety training program. ** Yes there is a small caveat to this below but the gist of the matter is simple.
Companies hire operators, must provide them with safety training, and certify they have successfully completed the safety training. Certification is only for the company they currently work for and does not transfer to the next company. So the idea of seeking to hire a Certified Forklift Operator is a myth. You would be better to advertise for an experience operator. If you really want to get good at this and stop wasting your interview time be very specific as in: Wanted forklift operators with a minimum of 3 years of operating experience, must know how to operate narrow aisle reach truck, order pickers, hand jacks, electric or internal combustion sit down forklifts. Experience with and knowledge of various forklift attachments is a plus. Completion of previous forklift safety programs documentations may be considered but must be able to successfully complete company program within 30 days of hire.
This may seem like a pet peeve and you would be right. I’m tired of the confusion. Look I get it. HR is busy and you don’t always have the time to learn every nook and cranny of operations. Feel free to use me as a resource. I love to help and share. Hey safety is my passion. Have any questions or concerns on this please let me know. If you disagree well lets chat about that as well.
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*In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts the Department of Public safety May (please note I say may) require an operator of Power Industrial Trucks aka forklifts to acquire a class MA 1C or 1D hoisting license. Not every state in the union has this requirement yet. The criteria for this requirement is twofold: If you operate a forklift where the public has access I.E. at a lumber yard such as Home Depot or Lowes OR if you are in construction and operate all terrain forklifts such as telescopic boom type all terrain. Some call them Lull’s after now defunct company but there are many name brands out there. Note the key is public access. Per MA DPS if you do not allow public access your company is exempt as of Aug 18, 2015 but that is subject to update or change. So if you operate in MA you must review the DPS website often. Their FAQ page does get updated and well they are changing their “view on this” matter often so things could change.
** OSHA does allow ABC Company to accept a portion of the classroom training that XYZ provided IF they wish however must put operator through their practical and evaluation portions of ABC’s training program. Again when OSHA updated the standard in 1998-99 they put very specific requirements and spelled out the entire safety training program requirement. If you know the standard as I do it’s easy. If not please don’t wing it.