DISCLAIMER: Frequently, people misunderstand that you can obtain a license to drive a forklift. In fact, there is no such a thing as a forklift license, there are only certifications. The difference is that the government does not verify your skills or abilities like when you receive a vehicle license. When you receive a certification to drive a lift, it is to show that you have been trained to use it in a safe manner & understand it’s function. A certification is only good for a specific type of lift and only in the environment where the certification took place. Therefore, even if you have been certified on a lift at one company, that does not mean that you can use a lift at another company. Even if you are using the same style lift. Generally speaking, it is the responsibility of the owner of the lift to verify that anyone using that lift has received proper training on that lift. Thus the “certification”.
Contrary to what some people believe, not all forklifts are the same. Because of this fact, there is a need for multiple types of forklift certifications to exist. In America, a total of three different types of forklift certifications exist. The certifications are; Standard Forklift Certification , Order Picker Forklift Certification , and All Terrain Forklift Certification . These different certifications were created by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), and forklift operators are only allowed to operate forklifts that they have the correct certification to operate. Descriptions of the certifications and which lifts they cover is included below;
Standard Forklift Certification: This is the broadest of the certifications, as it covers just about every forklift out there. With a standard certification, you are trained for each particular type and variation of forklift. As long as it falls under the standard forklift category, of course. Standard forklifts are:
- Sit-Down Forklifts
- Stand-Up Forklifts
- Narrow Forklifts
- Hand-Driven Forklifts
- Rough Terrain Forklifts
Those forklifts, be they electric or not, fall under the standard forklift category. As long as you are certified for that specific type and variation, you can operate it!
Order Picker Forklift Certification: This type of certification is probably the most unusual of the other certifications, as what this one accomplishes is to give you the permission to operate a lift that raises and lowers YOU and the load. Under the other certifications, you stay stationary while the load is being picked up or put down. With this certification, you can operate a forklift that raises and lowers you, the operator, while it raises and lowers the load. There are just certain times where you have to be on the same level as the load so you can place and move stock.
All Terrain Forklift Certification: This last type of certification does what the name implies, permits the operator to operate the forklift on all terrains and in all types of weather. This type of certification is used mostly on construction sites, for moving bricks and other large items.
So now the big question, which certification is right for you? Well, that depends largely upon what tasks your forklifts perform. If you work on a construction site, or in an unpaved area of rugged terrain, get an All Terrain Certification. If you work in a warehouse, moving loads from spot to spot, a Standard Certification will probably do just fine. If you work in a warehouse with racked pallets, or materials high up, then you will probably need an Order Picker Certification. Thankfully though, the company you are hired by will also handle making sure you have the training you need. If not, then you should definitely inquire about proper certification for both your safety as well as the company’s. Still, it is better to know these things for yourself than to take someone else’s word for it, and risk breaking a safety violation because you don’t have the proper certification for the forklift you are operating.