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Certification & Forklift Training OSHA

Forklifts, also known as Powered Industrial Trucks (PIT), are used in numerous work settings, primarily to move materials. Each year in the United States, nearly 100 workers are killed and another 20,000 are seriously injured in forklift-related incidents. Forklift overturns are the leading cause of these fatalities, representing about 25% of all forklift-related deaths. In regard to forklift training, OSHA requires employers to certify employees in the proper operation and maintenance of forklifts, and train those who may come into contact with lifts on hazards and best practices.

It is a common belief that certification is something that has to be completed through private contractors. However, OSHA regulations allow you to certify your own employees through the creation of an OSHA-complaint program. Independent studies have confirmed forklift training reduces operator errors by 70%.

Forks and Hazards

As a further illustration of the risk associated with forklift operation OSHA estimates that of the 1 million forklifts in the United States two-thirds are involved in an accident in their normal eight-year life span. These incidents are attributed to three causes according to OSHA:

  1. Insufficient or inadequate forklift training.
  2. Failure to follow safe forklift operating procedures.
  3. Lack of safety rule enforcement.

Common Causes of Forklift Fatalities

  • Forklift overturns (22%)
  • Worker on foot struck by forklift (20%)
  • Victim crushed by forklift (16%)
  • Fall from forklift (9%)

Death and Injury Can Cripple Your Company

Workplace deaths and injuries are heartbreaking to families and financially crippling to employers. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates these injuries and deaths cost employers $1 billion a week in worker's compensation costs. And when lost productivity, increased insurance premiums and other costs are added in, the total economic impact of occupational accidents is more than $4 billion a week or $668 for every citizen in the United States.

Annual Studies

An annual study conducted by the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety in 2010, revealed that the direct cost to employers from injuries in 2008 was $53.42 billion. Furthermore, accidents at the workplace were estimated to cost employers an additional $80 to $200 billion annually. A second report by the U.S. Department of Labor cemented the finding of the insurance groups report. This report stated the average workplace injury cost an employer $43,000. The same study estimated the cost from wage replacement due to injury to be roughly $50 billion a year.

Profit and Loss

An accident at the workplace can often be the difference between operating in the black and falling into the red. In addition to the financial ramifications due to health related issues, OSHA can fine employers for not having a policy in place. These fines start at $7,000.

OSHA Requirements

To protect employers and employees from the danger of operating forklifts OSHA crafted regulation 29 CFR 1910.178, which outlays a strict series of training, operating and maintenance requirements for all companies utilizing PITs.

This next chapter is a survey of some of the requirements in forklift operation that a novice may not know.

Forklift Operation

Your employees need training on the basics of forklift operation. These topics must include:

  • The proper distance forks are to be raised when transporting a load and the operating of the forks while the lift is moving in a forward or reverse direction. [29 CFR 1910.178 (n)(7)(iii)].
  • The safe speeds at which the forklift is to operate to facilitate proper stopping. [29 CFR 1910.178 (n)(8)].
  • The operator is required to look forward and keep a clear view of the travel path [29 CFR 1910.178(n)(6)].
  • The riding on a lift by a person other than the primary operator. [29 CFR 1910.178 (m)(3)].
  • The driving of forklifts into fixed objects that other objects may be resting on. These objects include benches, tables and more.[29 1910.178 (m)(1)]

Impact of Training

Training is an important part of eliminating job place injuries. Studies of forklift specific training show a 70% reduction in operator errors. [2]  Through independent studies, OSHA has confirmed employers who have in place a safety and health training program experience a 52 percent lower rate of "injury with days away" than employers without a program. [7]

A second study of private industry employers by OSHA found even more benefits to a safety training program. Here are a few highlights of those programs:

Company Benefits

  • Average Sales rose 7.5 percent
  • Manufacturing defects and waste dropped from $2.7 million in 2001 to $435,000 in 2005
  • Improved decision-making
  • Emergency Modification Rate dropped by 45%

Safety Leads to Reductions in Indirect Costs

  • Increased productivity
  • Higher quality products
  • Increased morale
  • Better labor/management relations
  • Reduced turnover
  • Better use of human resources

Value of Training

The value of training is further emphasized by a study of 41 workers hospitalized for hand injuries. Through the survey of these employees conducted by members of National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) it was discovered more than half had no on-the-job training for the equipment that caused their injury.

Workplaces that establish safety and health management systems can reduce their injury and illness costs by 20 to 40 percent, according to OSHA. Studies not only show the impact safety training has in increasing productivity and preventing injury. It shows the value training has to prevent casualties. [7] A NIOSH study of 55 confined workplace fatalities found that only three of those losing their lives ever received training on the proper workplace safety procedures.

For Every Dollar Invested in Safety Training

A study of the California insurance industry also revealed that every dollar invested in safety training resulted in $3 or more dollars in savings," Safety training is not a cost, it is an investment.

A Better Forklift Safety Solution

By requesting and reading this report, you are no doubt aware of the hazards associated with forklifts and the long list of regulations your company must abide by. Meeting these regulations is a tedious process that requires you either to develop a training program yourself or to outsource with expensive safety consultants. There is a better solution.

Here at Safety Services Company, we have developed a "Do-It-Yourself" training program that is both simple to administer and fulfills all your OSHA forklift requirements.

Three Steps to Certification

Our turnkey kit is a simple three-step solution that brings all your employees into compliance.

  1. Classroom/online training
    • The first step of our program is an intuitive electronic training session. Through the program, employees navigate an electronic training program at a computer and then take an automatically graded test. If computers are not available materials are printable for a traditional classroom or onsite training seminar.
  2. Field training
    • The second part of training is in the field. During this portion of the session, your appointed trainer shows the trainee the infield applications of the materials they learned in the classroom session.
  3. Evaluation
    • The third and final step to the training session is evaluation. Through this step, the trainer evaluates the trainee and either signs off on certification or retouches on topics that need more work.


All certification through the program meets or exceeds OSHA requirements. In addition to providing you with the knowledge to train your employees, our kit comes with our renowned "Train-the-Trainer" software, which transforms your employees into expert trainers. Our training kits cover:

  • OSHA requirements
  • Manuals
  • Safety decals and information
  • PPE
  • Inspections
  • Start-up
  • Operation
  • Hazards
  • Maneuvering
  • Maintenance
  • And much more…

Your forklift training kit will include:

  • Student Manual
  • Instructor's manual
  • Inspection sheets
  • Training logs
  • Safety certificates
  • Wallet cards
  • Safety tests
  • CD-ROM disk
  • Training presentation
  • Software to print extra
  • Wallet cards, certificates
  • Inspection sheets, tests, etc.

Continuous Commitment

As a valued Safety Services customer, we pledge to continually monitor the ever-changing safety requirements in your specific field, and will contact your company when a change may occur.

To see how we can solve your company's forklift safety training needs, check out our products and services here or call us at (866) 329-5407 today. 


Because interpretations and enforcement policy may change over time, for additional guidance on OSHA compliance requirements, the reader should consult current and administrative interpretations and decisions by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission and the Courts.

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