Driving tests

What is a forklift licence?

There’s no such thing as a ‘forklift licence’ in New Zealand. People talk about getting a forklift licence and you’ll see companies advertising forklift licences, however, they either mean an F endorsement (which goes on a driver licence) or the forklift operator’s certificate.

The difference between the two forklift qualifications

There are only two official forklift qualifications:

  1. F endorsement – minimum age is 18 years old
  2. Operator’s certificate (previously called the OSH certificate) – minimum age is 15 years old

You can do the two qualifications together.

If you pass a unit standard course with a registered trainer you will get an F endorsement on your driver licence. While you can do the theory online, you must attend a final exam with a registered trainer. The F endorsement allows you to drive a forklift on the road.

If you pass a forklift operator’s certificate course it demonstrates that you have had some training and induction in forklift operation. This gives you a certificate, not a licence. You are not required to attend an external course or use an accredited trainer if you do an operator’s certificate; you can do the theory online and do a practical assessment at your company. This can be conducted by a competent person (e.g. a supervisor).

NZQA unit standards are optional. The ones associated with lift trucks are:

  • 10851: Operate a powered industrial lift truck (forklift)
  • 10852: Operate a powered industrial lift truck (forklift) fitted with attachments
  • 18496: Demonstrate knowledge and skills for driving a forklift on a road for Drivers Licence Endorsement “F” (forklifts)
  • 14409: Use a forklift-mounted safety platform in the workplace

Invented qualifications

The Approved Code of Practice covers all types of lift trucks (counterbalance, reach, order pickers, walk-behind, container handlers, etc) – this is stated in the Code itself; all these lift trucks operate using a similar concept and are governed by safety regulations.

There are some differences and idiosyncrasies between makes, models and types of lift truck. There are many invented ‘qualifications’ that the forklift industry has created to sell you products and services. You may be familiar with companies that give a driver half an hour on a reach truck or an order picker and then print an ID card with those details on. This does not constitute adequate training because training must be specific to your workplace. That’s not to say that a brief induction on these machines isn’t useful, but there is no legal requirement for you to do that training externally and, under WorkSafe’s guidelines, you should be giving practical training for your forklift operators for your specific requirements. That means the forklifts you use, the loads you lift, the areas your forklift drivers will be operating in and the policies your company has around forklift operation.

So, before you pay for this type of additional training, consider whether it meets your requirements and if you are spending money unnecessarily.

driver training courses

Darren is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists and the NZ Motoring Writers' Guild

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