What does a Forklift Instructor do?

Stacy Blumberg

In the US and many other countries, employees who operate a forklift as part of their jobs must be certified in forklift operation. To achieve this certification, employees must take a forklift certification class. Forklift instructors are responsible for teaching these classes.

A forklift certification may be required to work in a warehouse.
A forklift certification may be required to work in a warehouse.

The United States Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is responsible for enforcing safety regulations in the US to make job sites safer for employees. Large machinery, such as forklifts, operated at work sites can cause accidents and injuries to workers. To minimize the incidence of accidents and the severity of them, OSHA rules mandate training and certification for forklift operators. Forklift certification classes are staffed by instructors who have been trained to teach forklift safety rules and operation.

Proper forklift training minimizes the occurence of accidents.
Proper forklift training minimizes the occurence of accidents.

Aspiring forklift instructors should first be proficient forklift operators. It is much easier to teach a subject that one has background knowledge of and experience with. A forklift instructor should also be comfortable speaking in front of other people. Class sizes can vary, but some public speaking is necessary in teaching others to properly operate a forklift. The final prerequisite for becoming a forklift instructor is to take and pass a forklift safety instructor training course.

OSHA forklift instructor training courses can be found in one- and two-day formats. OSHA requirements vary slightly from state to state, so it is important to receive certification in the state where the applicant expects to teach forklift certification. Courses typically include materials for both the forklift instructor and future certification participants.

Multiple organizations offer training courses that provide training materials and teach how to train others in safe forklift operation. A forklift instructor must pass a test at the end of the instructor certification course. Certifications are typically valid for two years and then require renewal.

Forklift instructors teach in various locations. Companies who hire multiple people at one time or require regular forklift certifications may host classes at their sites or hire a full-time forklift instructor to teach employees on an ongoing basis. Other companies send employees to off-site locations that offer forklift certification courses.

Forklifts, also known as powered industrial trucks, are commonly used in industries requiring regular movement of heavy objects. Construction work and warehouse jobs are typical examples of occupations where a forklift certification may be required. Those looking to work in these industries should check and see if a forklift certification is necessary.

People who operate forklifts should be certified.
People who operate forklifts should be certified.

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