It’s National Safety Month! Week 3 Theme: Forklift Safety

We’re focusing on forklift-related injuries during the third week of safety month. Across the country, forklift-related injuries take eight more days away from work than other types of injuries. An Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) study in the U.S. determined about 25% of all forklift-related injuries are related to inadequate training.

What are the requirements?

The Powered Industrial Truck (PIT) standard covers forklifts and powered pallet jacks, and other ride-on material handling equipment. The standard has two requirements before certification—formal instruction and practical training and evaluation. Practical training and evaluation must be performed on the specific equipment being used. Thus, practical training and evaluation should always be completed by a company or a competent forklift trainer with intimate knowledge of the client’s site and access to a forklift like those used at the client’s site. Certification will always be site- and equipment-specific, as a forklift certification is not a license to operate in every environment, on every machine.

What are your options?

It’s important companies commit to proper training, evaluating, and certifying forklift operators or operators of powered pallet jacks and similar equipment to properly train, evaluate, and certify this person. There are also some third-party options.

Third-party trainers, like technical and vocational schools or safety companies:

  • For most companies the safest way to ensure training is done properly and certification is completed is to find a third-party organization in your area that specializes in certification
  • Third-party training is often more thorough than company training.
  • The third party will need to discuss details of the work environment and perform the practical training and evaluation on a similar piece of equipment that will be used on the job.
  • Even if provided by a third-party off-site, it will still need to be a site- and equipment-specific certification.
  • Keep a copy of the certification in the employee’s file.


Stay tuned for next week’s article where we will shine a light on slips, trips, and falls safety!

Are you a forklift worker? What else should people know about your position? Let us know in the comments below!

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