forklift accident

A Forklift Operator Certificate is NOT Enough

Would you hire someone fresh out of one of those online “universities” that sell college degrees to anyone with the money to pay for them? Did you know that it’s even cheaper and easier to get a forklift certificate online?

forklift accident

Hands-on training can prevent accidents like this

You can learn some things online, but forklift operation isn’t one of them. For that, you need a combination of study and hands-on experience. That’s why increasing numbers of employers are taking a more cautious approach to hiring forklift operators. According to industry insiders, all you have to do to get a forklift certificate, even a certificate that claims you are an “OSHA Certified” forklift operator is take an online course for a fee.

These courses are particularly popular with unemployed workers who have operated a forklift in the past and are looking for full-time employment. They feel they have enough experience to fake being a professional forklift operator, but need the certificate to prove it to potential employers. Unfortunately, some employers fall for it and can come to regret it later.

According to a blog by Tom Andel in Materials Handling & Logistics, too many businesses “equate a certificate with the commercial driver’s license truckers must carry” and assume the certificate was only issued after both written and operational tests had been taken and passed. There are several things wrong with making such an assumption:

  • A forklift certificate is not a “license”
  • OSHA does not issue operator certificates
  • Even a qualified forklift operator needs further training when they move to a new working environment
  • Different forklift tasks require different skills
  • It’s an employer’s responsibility to certify their operators are trained to operate equipment, not OSHA’s

That last point is particularly important to remember because if OSHA ever does come to investigate an accident at your facility, their inspectors won’t be impressed with the “certificate” the operator shows them as proof of their competence and you will be the one held liable for the accident.

Smart employers not only look for proof of a forklift operator’s previous experience and safety record, but also put even the most experienced new operators through a training and certification program before they start working full time at the facility. This way, the operators are familiar with the working environment, the jobs they carry out with their lift trucks and all facility-specific safety issues.

SAFE Narrow Aisle Video Training Kit

SAFE Narrow Aisle Video Training Kit

We carry all the Forklift Training Materials you need here at, including certificates, but encourage all of our customers to combine theoretical study with practical application. It’s not enough for a forklift operator to know that load placements affect forklift stability, for example. They need to put their knowledge into practice and learn to never deviate from safe forklift operations for any reason.

A certificate alone is not worth the paper it is printed on. Every forklift operator must prove their abilities in your working environment before you can trust them to be a safe and productive member of your team.

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