This is Part II of our 2 Part Series on Forklift Operator Training. In Part I, we explored the inherent danger of operating a forklift and the importance of training and operating experience. In Part II, we will discuss refresher training and 3-year evaluations.

Refresher Training
When should forklift operators be retrained? There appears to be a great deal of confusion about this. Many employers are of the mistaken impression that retraining is required every three years or in many cases, annually. This is not accurate. Retraining is not required except under the following circumstances:

  1. If the operator has been observed to operate in an unsafe manner;
  2. The operator has been involved in an accident or near miss;
  3. The operator has received an evaluation that reveals that the operator is not operating the truck safely;
  4. The operator is assigned to drive a different type of truck; or
  5. A condition in the workplace changes in a manner that could affect safe operation of the truck.

A performance evaluation must be conducted following each training or refresher training to evaluate the effectiveness of the training.

Refresher training should cover relevant topics and may not, depending on the reason for refresher training, require the full training as initially received as a new operator.

3-Year Evaluation
Following initial training and at least every three years thereafter, the performance of each operator must be evaluated and documented.  This is a performance evaluation and not refresher training. This evaluation is simply observing the operator as they go about their routine tasks to assure their performance is still acceptable as a safe operator. In addition, an evaluation must be conducted following any refresher training that may take place. The evaluation may be conducted by another employee who is an experienced operator or someone from a third party entity.

For questions or assistance with forklift operator training or train-the-trainer training, contact Barry Maxwell, EI’s Safety Services Manager, at 919-459-5239 or