Online Forklift Refresher Training: How Often Should You Do This

Online Forklift Refresher Training

According to OSHA 29 CFR 1910.178(l)(4), the rules about how often you need to do online forklift refresher training are pretty straightforward. If you’re driving a forklift, you should take a refresher course every three years to stay sharp and safe.

So, in simple terms, think of forklift refresher training as a regular check-up, not just something you do once and forget. Every three years is the baseline to ensure you’re up to date with the latest safety practices and regulations.

But, just like how you’d see a doctor if something feels off, you should also get extra training right away if you notice something’s not right in your forklift driving habits or environment.

For example, if you’ve had a close call or an actual accident, it’s a sign that you might need to brush up on your skills sooner rather than later. Similarly, if you’re asked to operate a new or different type of forklift, or if there are significant changes in your workplace that could affect safety, those are also times to seek out additional training.

Remember, the goal of these rules isn’t to make life harder for forklift operators. It’s to keep everyone safe. Forklifts are powerful machines, and operating them safely requires skill, knowledge, and awareness. Regular refresher training helps ensure that everyone operating a forklift is equipped with the latest information and best practices, reducing the risk of accidents and injuries.

Read related article: Is Online Forklift Certification Legit? (Let OSHA Answers This)

Your Company’s Safety Policy Prevails

The three-year interval for forklift refresher training is a minimum requirement set by OSHA. However, if your company’s safety policy mandates more frequent training, then you must follow your company’s guidelines. This approach underscores the importance of tailoring safety protocols to specific workplace needs and risks, which can vary greatly from one operation to another.

Here are a few points to consider regarding company safety policies and training frequencies:

Tailored Safety Measures

  • Companies may identify unique operational risks or have a history of safety incidents that warrant more frequent training to mitigate these risks effectively.
  • Work environments that are dynamic, with frequent changes in layout, operations, or the introduction of new equipment, may require more agile and responsive training schedules.

Proactive Safety Culture

  • Organizations with a strong commitment to safety often adopt policies that exceed minimum legal requirements. This proactive approach can lead to a reduction in accidents and injuries, higher employee morale, and increased productivity.
  • Regular training, beyond the OSHA minimum, can reinforce safety practices and keep safety at the forefront of employees’ minds.

Compliance Plus

  • While adhering to OSHA standards is essential for legal compliance, aiming for a higher standard demonstrates a commitment to excellence and continuous improvement in safety management.
  • This “compliance plus” approach can also be beneficial in the event of an audit or inspection, showing that the company goes above and beyond the minimum requirements.

Implementation Considerations

  • When implementing more frequent training, it’s important to consider the format (online, in-person, hands-on), the content (customized to address specific risks or scenarios), and the impact on operations.
  • Engaging employees in the development and review of safety policies, including training frequency, can help ensure buy-in and compliance.

While the OSHA three-year minimum serves as a baseline for forklift refresher training, companies are encouraged to assess their specific needs and risks, potentially adopting more stringent training frequencies as part of their safety policies. This tailored approach can enhance safety outcomes and contribute to a stronger safety culture within the organization.

Factors Influencing Refresher Training Frequency

The frequency of forklift refresher training can be influenced by several factors beyond the standard three-year guideline set by OSHA. Understanding these factors can help employers and operators ensure that training is timely, relevant, and effective in maintaining workplace safety and efficiency. Here’s a closer look at these factors:

Changes in Workplace Environment or Operations

Any significant change in the workplace environment or the way operations are conducted can necessitate additional retraining. This could include changes in the layout of the storage facility, the introduction of new production lines, or any alterations that affect the movement and operation of forklifts. Such changes could introduce new hazards or require different operating procedures, making it essential for operators to receive updated training.

Introduction of New Equipment or Technology

The adoption of new equipment or technology is another critical factor that can influence the need for refresher training. This includes new forklift models with different features or controls, as well as new technology for inventory management or safety systems integrated into the workplace. When operators are expected to use new equipment or technology, it’s crucial that they are trained not only on how to use it effectively but also safely.

Incidents or Near-misses Indicating a Need for Refresher Training

Occurrences of accidents, incidents, or near-misses are clear indicators that retraining might be needed sooner than the regular schedule. These situations often highlight specific areas where skills or knowledge may be lacking or where complacency has set in. Addressing these through targeted retraining can help prevent future incidents by reinforcing safety protocols and operational best practices.

Evaluation of Operator Performance and Feedback

Regular evaluation of forklift operators’ performance, along with feedback from the operators themselves, can also guide the timing of refresher training. Performance evaluations might reveal gaps in skills or knowledge that can be addressed through training. Similarly, operators may identify areas where they feel uncertain or suggest new topics that training could cover, based on their day-to-day experiences. Listening to operator feedback is crucial, as it can provide insights into emerging challenges or safety concerns that training programs need to address.

In conclusion, while the three-year mark serves as a general guideline for refresher training, these factors highlight the need for a more dynamic approach. By considering changes in the workplace, the introduction of new equipment or technology, the occurrence of incidents, and feedback from operators, employers can ensure that their training programs are responsive to actual needs, thereby enhancing safety and efficiency in forklift operations.

Read related article: Does OSHA Recognize Online Forklift Training?

How to Send Forklift Operators for Retraining

Sending forklift operators for retraining is an important step in maintaining workplace safety and efficiency. Here’s a guide on how to do it, keeping things simple and practical:

1. Identify the Need

First up, figure out why you’re sending someone for retraining. Is it the regular refresher every three years that OSHA talks about, or did something happen, like an accident or a near-miss? Maybe there’s new equipment or changes in the workplace. Knowing the “why” helps tailor the training to what’s needed.

2. Choose the Right Training Program

Look for a training program that fits what your forklift operators need. There are plenty of options out there, including online courses for the theory part and hands-on training for the practical skills. Make sure the program covers the latest safety guidelines and is recognized by relevant authorities.

3. Schedule the Training

Work out a good time for the training that doesn’t mess too much with your operations but also fits with the operators’ schedules. It might take some juggling, but it’s important to find a balance. Remember, the goal is to make sure everyone stays sharp without putting a halt on the day-to-day work.

4. Communicate Clearly

Let your operators know about the training well in advance. Explain why it’s happening and what they can expect. This is a good time to stress that it’s all about staying safe and not about punishment. Good communication can make the whole process smoother.

5. Provide Support

Make sure your operators have what they need to succeed in the training. This might mean giving them time off from their regular duties to focus on learning or helping them with transportation if the training is off-site. Showing support makes the training more effective.

6. Follow Up

After the training, check in with your operators. See what they learned and how they feel about applying it to their work. This is also a good time to update any workplace safety plans with what everyone’s just learned.

7. Keep Records

Document who went for training, when it happened, and what was covered. Keeping records not only helps with staying compliant with regulations but also makes it easier to plan future training sessions.

Sending forklift operators for retraining might seem like a big task, but it’s all about keeping the workplace safe and running smoothly. With a little planning and the right approach, it can be a positive experience for everyone involved.

3 Ways to Take the Refresher Course

Forklift operator refresher training can be taken in several ways, catering to different learning styles, schedules, and operational needs. Here are some of the most common and effective methods:

1. Online Courses

  • Flexibility: Allows operators to complete training at their own pace and on their own schedule, ideal for busy work environments.
  • Accessibility: Can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection, making it convenient for operators in remote locations.
  • Consistency: Provides standardized training content, ensuring all operators receive the same information.

2. In-Person Classroom Training

  • Interactive: Facilitates real-time interaction with instructors, allowing for immediate feedback and clarification of doubts.
  • Engagement: Can be more engaging for some learners who benefit from a structured learning environment and peer interaction.
  • Comprehensive: Often includes both theoretical and practical components, providing a well-rounded learning experience.

3. On-the-Job or On-site Training

  • Practical Experience: Offers hands-on learning in the actual work environment, allowing operators to apply concepts in real-world scenarios.
  • Customized: Can be tailored to address specific operational needs, equipment, and workplace layouts.
  • Immediate Feedback: Instructors or experienced operators can provide instant feedback and correction, enhancing the learning process.

When choosing the method for refresher training, consider factors like the operators’ learning preferences, the specific skills or knowledge they need to update, and the logistical aspects of scheduling and conducting the training. A combination of these methods, tailored to your organization’s and operators’ needs, can provide the most effective training outcome.

The Online Is the Most Common Delivery The Refresher Course

Forklift operators can take the refresher online, which is a convenient and flexible option for many operators and employers. Online training offers several advantages, including:

  1. Easy and Flexible
    • Online training lets you learn from anywhere, like your home or workplace. You don’t need to travel to a training center.
    • You can choose when to do the training. Whether it’s early in the morning, during a break at work, or in the evening, it fits your schedule. This is really handy for people who are busy or have different work hours.
    • You can learn at your own pace. If something is hard to understand, you can take more time on it. Or, if you know something well, you can move faster. This personal pace makes learning more effective.
  2. Always Up-to-Date
    • Online courses are often updated with the latest safety rules and driving tips. This means you’re learning the most current information, which is super important for safety.
    • They can quickly include changes in laws or industry standards. So, you’re not learning outdated stuff. You’re always on top of what’s new and required.
    • This up-to-date knowledge makes sure you’re following the rules and doing things safely. It helps to avoid accidents and mistakes, keeping everyone at work safe.
  3. Saves Money
    • Online courses usually cost less than in-person training. You’re paying for the course only, not for the space or travel costs of the instructor.
    • You save money on travel. You don’t need to go to a training center, so no spending on gas, bus tickets, or taking time off work.
    • It also saves time, and time is money. You don’t waste hours going to and from a training place. This means you can spend more time working or doing things you enjoy.

These benefits make online training a smart choice for both individuals and businesses. It’s convenient, keeps you current, and is friendly on the budget.

Read related article: How Long Does It Take To Get Good On A Forklift?

Interactive Elements in Online Training

Online refresher training often includes interactive elements to make learning more engaging and effective:

  1. Simulations and Virtual Reality (VR)
    • Simulations are like computer games where you practice driving a forklift. They put you in different scenarios, like moving boxes in a warehouse or navigating tight spaces.
    • Virtual Reality (VR) takes this further. If you have VR gear, you can feel like you’re really driving a forklift. It’s very realistic and helps you learn by doing.
    • Both simulations and VR let you practice safely. You can make mistakes and learn from them without any real-world risks.
  2. Interactive Quizzes and Assessments
    • Throughout the training, there are quizzes and tests. These aren’t just yes or no questions; they often involve thinking through a situation or problem.
    • They help you check what you’ve learned. If you get something wrong, it shows you what you need to focus on more.
    • These quizzes keep you engaged. It’s not just watching or reading; you’re actively participating, which helps you remember things better.
  3. Real-Time Feedback and Support
    • During the training, you can often get immediate feedback. If you answer a quiz question wrong, the program can tell you the right answer and why.
    • Some courses also have a way for you to ask questions. You might be able to chat with a trainer or send a message if you’re stuck or confused.
    • This support makes learning easier. You’re not alone; there’s help if you need it. This can make you more confident in what you’re learning.

These interactive elements make online training more than just reading or watching videos. They involve you in the learning process, making it more fun and effective.

To Make a Conclusion

In wrapping up, understanding how often to undergo online forklift refresher training is crucial for maintaining a safe and efficient workplace. While OSHA sets the minimum standard every three years, your specific workplace safety policies may require more frequent training.

The key takeaway is that staying updated with refresher training is not just about meeting legal requirements; it’s about ensuring the safety of everyone involved and maximizing operational efficiency. Online training offers a flexible and accessible way to keep skills sharp and knowledge up to date.

Whether it’s every three years, or more often as dictated by your company’s safety policy, making this retraining a regular part of your professional development is essential for any forklift operator. After all, in the world of forklift operation, staying educated means staying safe.


  • Mike Pattenson

    Mike Pattenson is a seasoned forklift trainer with over 15 years of experience in the field. Mike holds several certifications in forklift operation, safety training, and workplace hazard management. He is a certified OSHA outreach trainer, which enables him to provide specialized training on occupational safety and health standards. Additionally, he has completed advanced courses in instructional techniques and adult education.

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