How Old Must Be To Operate A Forklift?
Quick Answer: Generally, a person must be at least 18 years of age to operate or drive a forklift, but there are exemptions and other requirements that must be met. As an employer delving into the legalities, this question is not so straightforward.
There are federal laws that determine the age at which a person can become a forklift operator. The situation in which the forklift is being operated determines the minimum age of the operator. There are also issues surrounding health and safety, training, and certification for workers.
Confused? Don't worry, here's a summary of the main points you should know about.
Fair Labor Standards Act
The 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) covers employment laws including those about child labor. These laws are set out to protect minors by prohibiting their employment in certain jobs and conditions that could be detrimental to their well-being. Let's look into how this affects the age requirement for employees to operate a forklift.
Regulations (Subpart E of part 570 of Title 29) in the FLSA prohibit persons under the age of 18 years from undertaking hazardous activities as part of their employment. The operation of forklifts is specified as Hazardous Occupation Order number 7. This age restriction also applies to workers employed by their parent or a person who is representing their parent.
There is an exemption for this age restriction when it comes to workers in agricultural occupations. Regulations (Part 570.123 of Title 29) state a minimum age of 16 years old for employees operating a forklift in this type of work.
Occupational Safety and Health Standards
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is concerned with the health and safety of employees at work and has various regulations relating to workers operating industrial equipment.
OSHA standard 1910.178 relates to powered industrial trucks which are known also as lift trucks or forklifts.
Employers have to ensure that all of the forklift operators in their employment are competent in the safe operation of forklifts. This can be achieved by operators successfully completing the forklift training and the evaluation as specified in the OSHA standard 1910.178.
Implementation of a training program is the responsibility of the employer. Every trained forklift operator must be evaluated in the initial training and at a minimum of every 3 years as well as after any refresher training including for new equipment.
The training and evaluation can be carried out by a qualified person or persons, with the necessary experience and knowledge. This could be the employer, another employee of the company, or an outside organization that specializes in this training.
Training has to be both practical and formal in nature, for example, practical tasks and demos as well as instructional videos and lectures.
Forklift operator certification must include the operator's name, date of driver training and evaluation as well as the identity of the instructor or persons who have carried out the training and evaluation.
The minimum age requirement for an employee to operate a forklift truck in nonagricultural occupations is 18 years old and in agricultural occupations is 16 years old.
To comply with OSHA standards employers must make sure their forklift operators are certified, which shows they are competent by having successfully undertaken a forklift training program that is approved by the OSHA.
There are plenty of resources available on the OSHA website about training requirements in the workplace and with regards to forklift trucks, there are stickers available that can remind workers of the federal laws regarding age requirements, and training and certification.