Forklift training: Advice for employers

forklift training the types of forklift

What are forklift trucks?

Forklift trucks are commonly used for moving materials and goods. They are often found in warehouses, factories and construction sites as they can move heavy loads and reach high places. Forklifts are a vital piece of equipment in many workplaces, but they are also highly dangerous if used incorrectly. They are involved in a quarter of all workplace transport accidents. Although injury and death can be as a result of poor use, they can also cause costly damage to other vehicles, buildings, fittings or goods.

The employer responsibilities

Employers are legally required to provide basic training and testing for all forklift operators that they employ. All operators should be properly trained on the relevant vehicle to reduce the risk of lift truck incidents at your workplace.

A forklift operator is any person that operates a lift truck, whether it is full time or a secondary part of the job.

What does the law say?

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) provide requirements for employers to ensure that any person that uses, supervises or manages the use of work equipment has to have received the relevant training. This includes any staff that are self-employed.

This includes the following:

  • The correct use of the machinery or equipment
  • Any risks that can occur
  • The precautions to take

Requirements for forklift operators

Potential lift-truck operators should:

  • Be physically capable – any employer should assess this on an individual basis. It may be an employer would need to seek medical advice or make adjustments to enable some disabled people to work with lift trucks. The Equality Act 2010 is likely to apply in some cases.
  • Be reasonably fit, physically and mentally and able to control and operate lift trucks
  • Have the learning ability to become competent operators
  • Be over the minimum school leaving age of 16, except in ports where they must be 18. Children under 16 should never operate a lift truck

As an employer, you are legally required to consult employees on health and safety matters, including the best ways on providing information and training.

What should lift truck training include?

Lift truck training should include:

Basic lift truck training

Basic lift truck training should include the knowledge and skills to safely operate the type of lift truck and any attachments. The duration of the course will be dependant on the type of vehicle, but a novice course for any lift truck will typically be 3-5 days.

Job specific training

Job or role specific training can be integrated as part of the basic training. It can be tailored to your specific job role, for example:

  • The routine inspections and servicing of a specific truck and handling attachments that are specific to the job
  • Knowledge and understanding of the loads specific to the job
  • How to use the truck in specific conditions or spaces that are specific to the trainees daily working environment

Familiarisation training

Familiarisation training should be carried out under close supervision by someone with the appropriate knowledge.

  • Familiarisation of the site layout, local emergency procedures and any other feature of the work required.
  • How to apply their learning in normal working conditions starting with simple tasks and moving to more complex ones.

Certificates for lift truck training

There is no such thing as a lift-truck ‘licence’ and no legal requirement to issue a certificate, but they do provide evidence that operators have the relevant training.

Refresher forklift training

Although there is no specific time period to provide refresher forklift training but in general training should be refreshed every 3 years. This is to ensure all operators are familiar with any changes or best practices.

Regular refresher training ensures forklift operators:

  • Learn new skills or best practices where needed
  • Reassess their abilities
  • Maintain good driving habits

Refresher training should also be offered to employees that:

  • Have not used a forklift truck for a long time
  • Appear to have unsafe practices
  • Had an accident or near miss
  • Have changed their working environment

Conversion training

Conversion training is aimed at experienced operators that would like to increase the range of vehicles they are qualified to operate. It means they would learn to operate a lift truck of a different category.


Employers should keep adequate records for every employee that has completed any stage of lift truck training. This includes conversion and refresher training.

The records should contain enough information to identify the employee and what training they have had and any associated tests they have taken.


The law requires employers to provide adequate supervision so supervisors and management positions should have adequate training and knowledge of safe and unsafe practices. We provide forklift instructor training to ensure your workplace is kept compliant.

Find out more

To find out more about how you can keep your workplace PUWER compliant, contact our friendly customer service team today.

We provide a range of RTITB certified forklift training courses across the UK, operated on your site around your schedule.


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