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How to Pass Your Forklift Operator Test


How to Pass Your Forklift Operator Test

Operating Powered Industrial Trucks (PITs) doesn’t have to be rocket science, but it does take someone who is trained and certified to do it right; this is especially true when it comes to meeting OSHA regulatory requirements. In 2017 alone, OSHA conducted 32,396 federal inspections across the United States, with Machinery and Machine Guarding being one of the top 10 most frequently cited OSHA standards violated in the 2017 fiscal year.

We’ve previously written a little bit about how to prep your facility to meet OSHA regulatory requirements. So to expand on that a bit, here’s a quick guide to what you need to know about OSHA and forklifts before you take your exam and get certified.

First of all, why are they called forklifts?
They’re called “forklifts” because of the heavy, fork-like prongs that most have built onto their bodies. They’re also called “lift trucks” because they can lift heavy loads. Whether you’re moving pallets of goods in a warehouse or transporting building materials on a work site, a forklift can help you complete tasks that would otherwise take many people a lot of time to accomplish.

How many different kinds of forklifts are there?
There are seven classes of forklifts, each useful for operation within different workplace environments, weather situations and more. Within each class, there can be different types.

The different classes include:

  1. Electric Motor Trucks
  2. Internal Combustion Engine Trucks
  3. Electric & Internal Combustion Engine Tractors
  4. Rough Terrain Trucks

...and more.

How does a forklift keep its balance?
A forklift works by counterbalancing the weight of the forklift with the weight of the load that it carries. Much like a seesaw, with the operator and the bulk of the weight of the truck exist on one side of the truck, and the load on the other. The midpoint of the seesaw, known as the “fulcrum”, occurs at the front tires' axle. Always make sure that the weight of the forklift behind the front tires is greater than that of the load. Otherwise, you can tip forward or find yourself unable to raise the load at all.

What is the maximum capacity that a forklift can carry?
The maximum capacity for your forklift is determined for a cube with perfectly symmetrical weight distribution at a standard load center, typically 24” for a 48” x 48” pallet. The center of gravity for your load will never be exactly in the center, so pay special attention to the placement of asymmetrical loads.

When can you start operating a forklift?
Once you are finished with the course, you must go through practical training and evaluation under the supervision of someone who has been certified. This person is typically your manager or supervisor. Only after passing the practical training evaluation are you certified to operate a forklift.

Who can’t operate a forklift?
In the United States, it’s a violation of federal law for anyone under the age of 18 to operate a forklift and anyone above the age of 18 to operate a forklift without the proper training and certification.

Regardless of the type of forklift that you end up operating, they are all designed to do the same thing: lift heavy objects. With that in mind, it’s important to know the correct procedure for loading, lifting and unloading so that accidents don’t occur. The principles behind forklift loading and unloading are relatively easy to understand as long as you always make safety a top priority. For more information on how to get trained for forklift safety, contact us at Our full forklift course listing will be available soon, so keep checking back for more.