The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that anyone driving a counterbalanced forklift receive classroom or lecture style training as well as complete a supervised driving course, in addition to periodic refresher training. There is no minimum time requirement for the classroom training or supervised driving, nor is a frequency mandated for the refresher training.
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A counterbalanced forklift is a lift truck that balances its load with the weight of the truck. The forks are in a fixed position--that is, they go up and down but do not pivot--and run parallel to the forklift's body. OSHA requires that operators who will be driving counterbalanced forklifts on the job be trained on the trucks and in the environment in which they will be operating.
Classroom or lecture style training includes information about the truck the driver will be driving, including specifications like height, weight and load capacity; how to fuel or charge the forklift, depending on the time of engine; and any truck-specific safety information such as where to stand when walking around the truck. There is no minimum time requirement, but oral and/or written testing is part of classroom training.
The forklift operator must learn to drive the counterbalanced forklift under supervision. This supervised driving must take place in an environment that reflects the environment the driver will be driving in, including the type of terrain she will be driving on, the types of surrounding structures nearby, and similar vehicle and pedestrian traffic. There is no minimum number of hours the operator must drive under supervision.
OSHA requires that counterbalanced forklift drivers receive periodic refresher training. The agency does not specify how frequently this training must take place or what its content should be. If an operator drives regularly, refresher training is likely to include more classroom-style training. If she does not drive a forklift frequently, there may be supervised driving during the refresher training.
A driver may not transfer her certification from a forklift training school or from a previous job. Instead, she must undergo re-certification under the supervision of the new employer. If she was driving a counterbalanced forklift in her previous job, she may be able to simply be tested in her new environment without a complete retraining.
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