If you need to prove to WorkSafe that your operators are qualified to drive your forklifts, you will need to provide some documentation and evidence of this.
The main documents or qualifications are:
- Forklift operator’s certificate or equivalent – the equivalent of the old OSH certificate. This says that a forklift operator was assessed as competent to drive a forklift in a closed workspace like a warehouse or yard
- F endorsement – this is not required if you don’t have forklifts that go on public roads. It demonstrates that a forklift operator took an additional test and understands the rules and regulations for driving a forklift on the road. A copy of the driver licence will show this
- Authorisation to operate – See below
- Training receipts – any proof you have of sending your operators to a training course or bringing an external instructor in is good evidence that you value training to keep your forklift operators safe
How long does a forklift certificate last for?
The recommended interval between refreshing a forklift operator’s certificate is three years which means documentation for that certificate should be kept at least that long. However, it’s up to the company to decide the exact interval. In fact, a mythology has developed over the years that it’s ‘OK’ for you to renew a certificate within three months of its expiry and that your operators are OK to operate forklift trucks while their certificate is expired. Both of these are fallacies: nowhere in the Approved Code of Practice does it give this instruction. The Approved Code of Practice, which is the recommended standard, says “It is recommended that retraining be undertaken every three years and that the certificate issued should reflect this.” That’s all. Three years is a recommendation. Conscientious employers might retrain their forklift drivers every year. Bear in mind that while you could elect to retrain every four or five years, this would indicate a worse health and safety outcome than is suggested in the ACOP, and the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 specifically says that you should not take actions that provide a health and safety outcome that is less than the ACOP.
What is an authorisation to operate a forklift?
This is a document produced by the employer that simply states the locations a forklift operator can work in, the equipment they are allowed to work on and if there are any restrictions to what they can carry. It’s your acknowledgement that your operator is competent. There’s no formal requirement for the format of this – it could simply be an email confirming to the employee what they are permitted to do. The ACOP says: “No Person shall operate any forklifts without an authorisation to operate from their employers. This authorisation shall be issued only after training is satisfactorily completed.” If you don’t issue an authorisation to operate then it’s assumed that the operator is authorised to operate anywhere they are asked to within your company’s premises.
Sample authorisation to operate
The wording the ACOP uses is:
This is to certify that [insert name], having successfully completed specific, job and familiarisation training is authorised to operate the following forklift(s):
Job Type: __________
Forklift Type: _________
Date of Issue: _________
An authorisation to operate is not transferable to another employer. If your employee is required to operate a forklift truck at a client’s or supplier’s premises, e.g. to load a truck, then it’s the responsibility of that PCBU to ensure they have inducted the forklift employee into their health and safety system and that the employee is competent on the equipment they will use.
Maintaining your forklift drivers’ ability to do their job legally and safely
To maintain your forklift operators’ ability to drive a forklift on your premises you need to:
- Ensure they have done a course that meets the ACOP standards within the last three years.
- Issue an authorisation to operate the forklift.
- Ensure they have an F endorsement if you require them to drive on the road (your forklift should also be road-registered). If they lose their licence through acquiring too many demerit points, they must not drive on the road. Drivers must carry their licence at all times while driving on the road.
- Give them training and induction on any equipment they will be using, carrying the loads they would usually be carrying.