How to Get Certified - Forklift Operator Training

forklift operator training in Ontario

If you've found your way to this article, it's probably because you, one of your employees or someone close to you would like to become a forklift operator. In that case, there are a number of steps you'll need to take before you can legally drive a forklift. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (also known as OHSA), only a 'competent' individual with a valid forklift operator's license may legally operate a forklift in Canada. But what, exactly, does that mean? How do you become a licensed operator? How do you qualify as a competent individual?

How to Become a Certified Forklift Operator:

While OHSA and government bodies such as Ontario's Ministry of Labour (also known as the MOL) regulate and enforce forklift operator training requirements, no one associated with establishing and enforcing these regulations are directly involved with the operator certification process. Instead, it is ultimately the responsibility of an employer to make sure all of their operators meet the legal requirements for operating a forklift in Ontario.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways for businesses to train their forklift operators. Among the most popular methods include developing an internal training program, on-site or off-site training by a qualified 3rd party provider and online training courses (theoretical only). The first portion of the certification process is what's known as operator safety awareness training, which covers the theoretical portion of the certification process. According to OHSA/CSA standard B335-15, all operators must pass a knowledge verification quiz after reviewing the following safety material:

  • Principles of counter-balanced lift truck operation;
  • Identifying vehicle and operator hazards in the workplace;
  • The principles of lift truck stability and the stability triangle;
  • Load handling procedures;
  • Safe lift truck practices and tip-over procedures;
  • Forklift battery and propane hazards and procedures; and,
  • Ministry Of Labor guidelines overview.
  • Everyone that achieves a passing grade in the knowledge verification quiz receives a certification card (often referred to as a 'forklift license'). With this in hand, operators may proceed to the practical component of the operator training process where they will acquire the practical skills and experience necessary to qualify as a competent operator. Here, it is the employer's responsibility to ensure that each operator is trained to operate the lift truck(s) they will encounter on a day-to-day basis by an industry expert. Specifically, operators must demonstrate that they can regularly perform the following procedures in a manner consistent with competence standards:

  • Pre-operation inspection and visual check;
  • Start-up and shut-down procedures;
  • General lift truck operation: accelerating, decelerating, turning, driving a lift truck in forward and reverse, parking, operating a lift truck around personnel;
  • Load handling: selection and security of loads, pick-up and placement, personnel lifting, stacking and restocking;
  • Loading and unloading: transport vehicles, structures; and
  • Operational maintenance: refuelling, recharging (where appropriate).
  • **For a full overview of what knowledge is to be acquired during operator training, see the Ministry of Labour's website and Appendix III)**
  • "As can be seen on the Ministry of Labour's website, there are countless tasks that must be performed by an operator to be considered competent. However, as far as practical training is concerned, only those aspects that are applicable to a given work environment need be covered," noted Ed Cook, Lucas' operator training instructor.

    Are you ready to get certified? Book your spot in our next forklift operator training course below:

    The Value of In-Person Training Courses:

    To fully ensure you're in compliance with provincial and federal regulations, we strongly recommend that operators receive their theoretical certification in-person, whether it is at a dealership or on-site, rather than using an online training service. As noted above, employers are obligated to ensure that their employees qualify as 'competent' if they are to operate a lift truck within the workplace. Since the onus is on employers to ensure compliance, it makes sense to use a more trustworthy and reliable educational format (i.e., in-person training sessions) rather than trusting a faceless and impersonal piece of online software.

    "With online training courses, there's no way to verify that a potential operator has reviewed all of the material or legitimately passed the knowledge verification quiz as required by law," commented Ed Cook. In other words, the loose and informal format of an online training course means that there's no way to ensure an individual reviewed every portion of the knowledge base or completed their examination without assistance from other online resources or another individual.

    Despite the widespread availability of online operator training courses, there are distinct advantages to in-person operator training courses that should be considered before booking online such as:

  • Interactivity - with direct, real-time access to a knowledgeable industry professional with years of experience, trainees receive immediate clarification on areas of uncertainty and remain engaged throughout the certification process;
  • Human verification - in-person training guarantees that the person doing the training is the person receiving the certification. This also helps job seekers, as potential employers are more likely to trust an established, local source of operator training over an online provider;
  • Flexibility - with in-person assistance, there are fewer barriers to certification for anyone that struggles with reading, speaks English as a second language or suffers from other impediments such as a learning disability;
  • Accurate evaluations - in-person training helps ensure that all trainees are properly evaluated for compliance with OHSA and MOL requirements;
  • Distraction-free - unlike online training, where a computer is used without time constraints, classroom trainees don't have to deal with potential distractions (social media, digital media, etc.) and can finish the theoretical training component in a single morning or afternoon session;
  • End-to-end training - at Lucas, we offer both theoretical AND practical training services, which means that a business can fully certify their forklift operators with a single vendor.
  • The Benefits of High Quality Operator Training for Businesses:

    Beyond ensuring legal compliance and improving workplace safety, there are a number of ways that business can benefit from high quality operator training:

  • Improved productivity - a well-trained operator, one that understands the capabilities and limitations of their forklift, will have a positive impact on productivity. These skilled operators are able to lift and transport loads faster and more efficiently than the average operator, saving on labour costs and improving your bottom-line.
  • Risk reduction - recent studies have shown that most forklifts accidents are preventable with proper operator instruction and guidance. High quality training helps to improve the safety of your workplace, prevent accidents, reduce property damage and decrease product loss.
  • Improved morale - taking pride in your employees and investing in their training/development has a positive impact on employee morale and confidence. By providing your operators with professionally administered training, they'll feel valued, less stressed and take pride in their jobs, which leads to lower turnover rates and improve productivity. And, as mentioned above, skilled and confident operators make fewer mistakes and positively contribute to a business' productivity.
  • Lower maintenance costs - properly educated operators are less likely to attempt maneuvers that can damage equipment, so fewer maintenance issues will arise from wear and tear or improper use. What's more, these operators are more likely to recognize and report on maintenance issues as they develop, further reducing maintenance costs.
  • Convenience - at Lucas Liftruck Services, we'll come directly to your location to educate your employees and administer the operator certification test. In the process, we'll keep your time away from production down to a minimum as no off-site travel is required (which also eliminates any travel costs). Our flexible instructors will schedule your session when it is most convenient for you and your business.
  • Learn more about our on-site forklift operator training course or contact us to book your training session today!
  • The Benefits of High Quality Operator Training for Individuals:

    The benefits of a professional certification course aren't limited to businesses. As an individual, you'll gain the following:

  • Improved employability - by securing your forklift operator certification from a well-established and reputable local dealership, you'll gain instant credibility when applying for jobs. At the same time, you're more likely to get a job if you don't need additional theoretical training once hired.
  • Better career opportunities - attending a professional training session opens up a number of career opportunities that aren't available without certification. On average, forklift operators earn an hourly wage 20-30% higher than the minimum while working in larger organizations with opportunities for advancement.
  • Return on investment - unlike online training programs, our in-person certification process doesn't take any shortcuts. By booking with us, you can be confident that you'll receive full value for your training dollars - confidence that will shine through during your interviews.
  • Learn more about our forklift operator training course or contact us to book your spot in our next session today!
  • In Closing

    As you can see, there are myriad reasons to pursue an in-person certification course at a reputable and established dealership or training facility. Fortunately, we know just such a place! At Lucas, our theoretical operator training course consists of a 4-5 hour session led by an instructor with over 20 years of experience in the lift truck industry. With hundreds of courses under his belt, you can be confident that Ed Cook will deliver on all of the benefits mentioned above. So, whether you're an individual looking to get certified for the first time or a large corporate group looking for on-site training, we've got you covered!

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    I attended Lucas' operator training course when I got certified for the first time almost 3 years ago and had a great experience. As someone with limited experience in the industry at the time, I was pleasantly surprised by how easy the material was to pick up and I imagine the biggest reason for that was how it was delivered. Ed Cook - the instructor - was very knowledgeable and personable, which made it easy for everyone to stay engaged throughout the 4 hour course. I came to this article because I need to renew my certification in a few weeks and I'll definitely book with Lucas again - I always recommend Lucas' course whenever someone mentions that they need to get certified.


    Hi James, we're very happy to hear you enjoyed our on-site operator course and will be back for re-certification!

    Rhianna Hawk

    The store that I'm working at wants me to get certified on a forklift so I can help in the stockroom, and I didn't really understand how to do that before now. We don't have an internal training program like you mentioned, so it's good to know that the training will be covered in the process of certification. I'll be sure to talk to my manager about finding a training and certification program, or else maybe do some online research to see if anyone is doing programs in my area.

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