How to Obtain a Forklift License in Ontario

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Thousands of Ontario workplaces use forklifts and lift trucks to move large items. Forklift jobs can be found in manufacturing, mining, retail, wholesale, hospitality, hospitals and other large institutions.

Forklift drivers and their employers are governed by federal and provincial safety standards. Operators must be deemed "competent" to operate a forklift, which means they have the training, knowledge and experience necessary to safely operate the machinery. While there is no official "license" for a forklift driver, drivers must have proof that they have received training that meets government standards.

Attend a forklift operator training course. Look for a course that meets the standards set out by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and the Ontario Ministry of Labour for forklift or lift truck operator training. The course you choose should provide you with written confirmation, usually in the form of a certificate, if you successfully complete the course.

Complete the in-class theoretical component and hands-on practical component of a basic forklift program. If you are currently employed in a setting where forklifts are available, your practical training will likely happen at your work site. If you do not have an employer willing or able to give you access to a forklift, you can arrange to have your practical training at the training facility. Extra fees will apply.

Complete a practical retraining course every 18 months and a comprehensive classroom and practical re-certification every three years. This is recommended by the Canadian Safety Association and will maintain your certification. Retraining and refresher programs are available through various training providers in Ontario.

Tip

Once you have successfully completed a basic forklift training program, you may choose to specialize in forklift types and settings that require more experience, such as rough terrain or narrow-aisle forklifts.

Warning

Forklift and lift truck operation, like many manufacturing and commercial jobs, can be dangerous. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Council of Ontario, there were an average of 793 lost-time forklift-related incidents a year between 1996 and 2008. Protect yourself. Know your rights and responsibilities and make sure your employer fulfills all occupational health and safety requirements mandated by Ontario legislation.

About the Author

Jennifer Dawson is a Canadian researcher and writer who started freelancing in 2007. Specializing in environment and health topics, her work has appeared in “The Health Journal,” "Nutrition and Your Health," "Alternatives" and “Together Family.” Dawson has a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Arts in anthropology from McMaster University.

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