There seems to be a lot of question regarding OSHA forklift certification. People want to know who OSHA is; what OSHA does and; if they will receive an OSHA forklift license when they complete the training. The purpose of this post is to help you understand what OSHA does and does not do and what employers really want when they require an OSHA forklift license or OSHA forklift certification.
Who is OSHA
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is an agency of the United States Department of Labor. Congress established the agency under the Occupational Safety and Health Act which was signed into law by President Richard Nixon December 29, 1970. OSHA’s mission is to “assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance”. In other words, OSHA is the “Police Force” for the United States Department of Labor.
The OSHA Act covers most private sector employers and employees in Texas and Louisiana. The OSHA Act does not apply to the self-employed; immediate family members of farm employers; and workplace hazards regulated by another federal agency (for example, the Mine Safety and Health Administration, the Department of Energy, U.S Coast Guard, etc.).
What OSHA does
The Occupational Safety and Health Act grants OSHA the authority to issue workplace health and safety regulations. These regulations include limits on hazardous chemical exposure, employee access to hazard information, requirements for the use of personal protective equipment, and requirements to prevent falls and hazards from operating dangerous equipment. OSHA’s current Construction, General Industry, Maritime and Agriculture standards are designed to protect workers from a wide range of serious hazards. Examples of OSHA standards include requirements for employers to: provide fall protection such as a safety harness/line or guardrails; prevent trenching cave-ins; prevent exposure to some infectious diseases; ensure the safety of workers who enter confined spaces; prevent exposure to harmful chemicals; put guards on dangerous machines; provide respirators or other safety equipment and; provide training for certain dangerous jobs in a language that the worker can understand.
Employers must also comply with the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act. This clause requires employers to keep their workplaces free of serious recognized hazards and is generally cited when no specific OSHA standard applies to the hazard.
By law, employers must provide their workers with a workplace that does not have serious hazards and must follow all OSHA safety and health standards. Employers must find and correct safety and health problems. OSHA further requires that employers must first try to eliminate or reduce hazards by making feasible changes in working conditions rather than relying on personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, or earplugs. Switching to safer chemicals, enclosing processes to trap harmful fumes, or using ventilation systems to clean the air are examples of effective ways to eliminate or reduce risks.
Employers must also:
- Inform workers about chemical hazards through training, labels, alarms, color-coded systems, chemical information sheets and other methods.
- Provide safety training to workers in a language and vocabulary they can understand.
- Keep accurate records of work-related injuries and illnesses.
- Perform tests in the workplace, such as air sampling, required by some OSHA standards.
- Provide required personal protective equipment at no cost to workers. (Employers must pay for most types of required personal protective equipment.)
- Provide hearing exams or other medical tests when required by OSHA standards.
- Post OSHA citations and annually post injury and illness summary data where workers can see them.
- Notify OSHA within eight hours of a workplace fatality. Notify OSHA within 24 hours of all work-related inpatient hospitalizations, all amputations, and all losses of an eye (1-800-321-OSHA ).
- Prominently display the official OSHA Job Safety and Health – It’s the Law poster that describes rights and responsibilities under the OSH Act.
- Not retaliate or discriminate against workers for using their rights under the law, including their right to report a work-related injury or illness.
What OSHA does not do
OSHA does not license, certify or train people (this includes forklift drivers and forklift trainers). OSHA does not evaluate, approve or accredit training programs or safety videos and; OSHA does not maintain certification or training records. Anybody that tells you the training is OSHA approved; that they are OSHA certified; or that you will receive an OSHA Forklift License is simply not being honest and you should report them to OSHA as soon as possible. There are a lot of “Forklift Trainers” who simply are not doing their jobs and there are also forklift training companies that do little more than collect money and turn on videos. Additional info about companies who post fake employment ads and issue fake “OSHA forklift certifications” can be found here: forklift certification scam alert.
Workers have the right to:
- Working conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm.
- File a confidential complaint with OSHA to have their workplace inspected.
- Receive information and training about hazards, methods to prevent harm, and the OSHA standards that apply to their workplace. The training must be done in a language and vocabulary workers can understand.
- Receive copies of records of work-related injuries and illnesses that occur in their workplace.
- Receive copies of the results from tests and monitoring done to find and measure hazards in their workplace.
- Receive copies of their workplace medical records.
- Participate in an OSHA inspection and speak in private with the inspector.
- File a complaint with OSHA if they have been retaliated or discriminated against by their employer as the result of requesting an inspection or using any of their other rights under the OSH Act.
- File a complaint if punished or retaliated against for acting as a “whistle blower” under the 21 additional federal laws for which OSHA has jurisdiction.
Temporary workers must be treated like permanent employees. Staffing agencies and host employers share a joint accountability over temporary workers. Both entities are therefore bound to comply with workplace health and safety requirements and to ensure worker safety and health. OSHA could hold both the host and temporary employers responsible for the violation of any condition.
OSHA Fines and Penalties
Enforcement plays an important part in OSHA’s efforts to reduce workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. Inspections are performed by trained compliance officers and an inspector may issue citations and/or fines when they identify a hazard. When determining the amount of a proposed fine, OSHA must take into account the gravity of the alleged violation; the size of the business; and determine if there have been previous violations. Effective August 2, 2016, the OSHA fine is $12,471 per violation and the fine for a willful or repeated violation is $124,709 per violation. Any citation will include methods an employer may use to fix a problem and the date by which the corrective actions must be completed.
Employers have the right to contest any part of the citation, including whether a violation actually exists. Workers only have the right to challenge the deadline by which a problem must be resolved. Appeals of citations are heard by the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC).
Links and Resources
Information about OSHA’s forklift training requirements can be found on the OSHA website at https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=STANDARDS&p_id=9828
OSHA forklift training resources can be found here: https://osha.gov/dte/index.html
Rules about maintaining OSHA forklift training records can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GoR7nlRNyE&feature=youtube_gdata