How To Track Forklift Certifications

man backing up a forklift in a warehouse

As a company employing forklift operators, you’re faced with a lot of moving parts, and we’re not talking about the forklifts themselves. You’re responsible for training and certifying those operators and then keeping track of their licenses.

But what does certifying involve? Why are certifications required? And what’s the best way to track forklift certifications, especially when you have more than a few operators? Let’s dive in.

What does a forklift certification entail?

There are numerous types of forklifts (powered industrial vehicles) such as rough terrain forklifts, warehouse forklifts, side loaders, pallet jacks, and more. Each comes with its own potential hazards, as does the individual workplace or jobsite.

It’s the employer’s responsibility to provide training for its employees. This can be a homegrown training or one through an outside training program, but it must involve completing a training, a written exam, and a practical exam. That being said, OSHA does recommend operators complete a training that’s part of a larger comprehensive safety program to be most effective.

warehouse workers sitting and listening to a presentation

Why are forklift certifications required?

Did you know that according to numerous OSHA studies and investigations over the years, when forklift drivers are unlicensed, “there are higher incidences of accidents resulting in serious injuries and fatalities than those operators who have been properly trained and certified”?

Safety is just one of several critical reasons to ensure your operators are all certified and that you’re keeping track of their certifications. Like all heavy machinery, forklifts pose meaningful danger to the operator and those around them. The most common types of accidents involving forklifts are turnovers and collisions and are usually caused by operator error. Therefore, having an operator who knows the ins and outs of the powered industrial vehicle they’re operating, as well as the potential hazards of your warehouse or jobsite, keeps everybody safer.

The second major reason to ensure all your forklift operators are certified is money. There’s a lot on the line if you’re discovered with an unlicensed operator or an operator with an expired license. Depending on the type and nature of the violation, this could be tens of thousands of dollars. (Visit OSHA’s site to see what the penalties are today.) Many businesses, especially small businesses, simply cannot afford the costs of such fines.

The final reason is that it’s against the law. It’s a violation of federal law for “anyone UNDER 18 years of age to operate a forklift or for anyone OVER 18 years of age who is not properly trained and certified to do so.”

How often do forklift drivers need to recertify?

Generally, forklift certifications need renewing every three years, but an operator may be forced to undergo training sooner. Some of OSHA’s reasons for needing a training before the three years are up are that the forklift operator has demonstrated unsafe use of the vehicle, has been involved in an accident or near-miss accident, has received an evaluation that they’ve not been operating the truck safely or they’re assigned to a different type of truck.

Because there are numerous reasons an operator could renew, that makes keeping track of certifications challenging, which is exactly why you need a reliable system in place to manage forklift certifications.

Systemize your forklift certification tracking

If somebody asked you right now how many of your operators are up for their license renewal this quarter, would you know or be able to find the answer quickly? If not, that’s an indication you need to take a better look at how you’re tracking certifications. A filing cabinet of hard copies that you periodically check isn’t a reliable system. It puts you at risk of not knowing an operator’s license has expired, and as mentioned earlier, that opens you up to safety concerns, a violation of the law, and hefty OSHA fines.

But don’t worry, putting a system into place isn’t difficult. You can easily alleviate the administrative burden and the stress one of two ways. The first is to build and maintain a spreadsheet containing the operator’s name, training date, evaluation date, and name of person(s) performing the training or evaluation.This is what OSHA is looking for. You can certainly add more information to your spreadsheet if it’s helpful for you.

Manual tracking does have its downsides though. If you have more than a few operators to track, it can be time consuming, not to mention a juggling act with operators renewing at all different times. And without automated reminders to alert you when someone’s planned renewal is coming up, you could be facing safety risks and the aforementioned penalties.

The second and easier way to go about tracking forklift certifications is with software, like CertPanda. CertPanda is an online software that tracks certifications, licenses, qualifications, and associated documentation. Unlike a spreadsheet, CertPanda allows you to upload and attach your files and documents, keeping all important details in one place.

Another benefit of CertPanda as opposed to a manual system is that it proactively notifies you before any certificates or licenses expire. This reduces time spent on manual tasks and takes the stress out of the tracking process. Most importantly, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that if/when OSHA comes knocking, you’ll be ready to show them an organized, and up-to-date list of certified operators.

Ready to gain your own peace of mind and let a computer do the hard work for you? Sign up for CertPanda’s free trial today!