If you've got forklifts, your company has delivered forklift operator training, and you've likely had some questions about how that training gets delivered, as well as who can receive the training. Below are answers to some common questions we've received.
No, the operator only needs the training required under 1910.178(l). A driver's license is not required to become a forklift operator. However, if the forklift may be operated on a public road, you might check with local law enforcement for any stipulations.
Yes, a forklift operator must be at least 18 years of age. This isn't in the OSHA regulations, but appears in the federal child labor regulations. Operating a forklift can be dangerous, so child labor laws prohibit anyone under 18 years of age from operating a powered industrial truck.
Yes, although additional training may be needed at the work location. Operators could undergo the basic instruction at a training facility, but training must include workplace-related topics under 1910.178(l)(3)(ii). These include things like surface conditions, pedestrian traffic, narrow aisles, ramps, and other conditions unique to the workplace. Therefore, operators may need additional instruction regarding workplace-specific topics at the assigned worksite. In addition, if the business location has additional types of trucks on which the operator was not trained, then additional instruction would be needed. That additional training would not need to repeat topics that had already been covered, however.
The same restrictions would apply if, for example, a trained and experienced operator is assigned to a new building or business location. He may need instruction on the particulars of the new workplace.
The main reason is traction. The front wheels of a forklift generally provide the power (acceleration) as well as the primary braking. Driving forward down a ramp (or backward up a ramp) keeps the rear counterweight higher than the body of the forklift, allowing gravity to maximize the traction of the front tires. If the vehicle was driving up a ramp without a load, the rear counterweight would be lower than the truck body. This could reduce the traction of the front tires, particularly if the operator is accelerating up the ramp. Keeping the forks pointed downslope by driving backward up the ramp should avoid this risk.
When the operator is carrying a load, of course, the load should remain upslope (whether going up or down the ramp) to minimize the risk of the load sliding off the forks.