Telehandler Operator Training Requirements

Every telehandler operator must be properly trained

Telehandlers are one of the most important machines on a job site and are typically one of the first machines on site to unload trucks and distribute materials where needed and one of the last machines to leave because of their usefulness in the final cleanup and landscaping phases.

Also known as reach forklifts, these machines are capable of lifting and transporting heavy loads, then raising them up to where material is needed. Telehandlers range from compact, with a lifting capacity of 5,000 lbs. and max lift height of 19' to full size, with 20,000 lbs. max lifting capacity that can extend up to 44'. Because of this, no operator should ever decide to "just figure out" how to operate these potentially dangerous material handling machines.

OSHA requires every telehandler operator to be properly trained

OSHA Standard 1910.178, Heading "Powered Industrial Trucks", Section 1910.178(l)(1) "Safe Operation".

Per OSHA, training must include formal classroom instruction as well as a hands-on familiarization demonstration performed by persons with the knowledge, training, and experience to train telehandler operators and evaluate their competence. Following classroom and hands on familiarization training, each trainee is required to perform practical exercises for a sufficient time to demonstrate proficiency in the operation of the specific make and model of telehandler the job requires.

Regulations require that once an operator has been certified to operate a telehandler, he or she must be observed by a qualified person on a regular basis and re-evaluated every three years to maintain their certification.

OSHA training requirements include but are not limited to:

  • Operating instructions, warnings, and precautions for the types of truck the operator will be authorized to operate.
  • Differences between the truck and the automobile.
  • Truck controls and instrumentation: where they are located, what they do, and how they work.
  • Steering and maneuvering.
  • Visibility (including restrictions die to loading).
  • Fork and attachment adaptation, operation, and use limitations.
  • Vehicle capacity.
  • Vehicle stability.
  • Any vehicle inspection and maintenance that the operator will be required to perform.
  • Refueling and/or charging and recharging of batteries.
  • Operating limitations.
  • Any other operating instructions, warnings, or precautions listed in the operator's manual for the types of vehicles that the employee is being trained to operate. Composition of loads to be carried and load stability.
  • Load manipulation, stacking, and unstacking.
  • Pedestrian traffic in areas where the vehicle will be operated.
  • Ramps and other sloped surfaces that could affect the vehicle's stability.
  • Closed environments and other areas where insufficient ventilation or poor vehicle maintenance could cause a buildup of carbon monoxide or diesel exhaust.

Retraining or refresher training is required when:

  • The operator's valid training period has expired.
  • The operator has been observed to operate the vehicle in an unsafe manner.
  • The operator has been involved in an accident or near-miss incident.
  • The operator has received an evaluation that reveals that the operator is not operating the truck safely.
  • The operator is assigned to drive a different type of truck; or
  • A condition in the workplace changes in a manner that could affect safe operation of the truck.

All certified telehandler operators must be able to:

  1. Know and understand the principles of safe telehandler operation including performing a pre-operation inspection, function tests and a workplace inspection prior to operating the machine.
  2. Understand how to read the specific load handling chart for the configuration of telehandler to be operated including specific attachments.
  3. Know how much weight needs to be lifted and how high it needs to go.

Visit OSHA 1910.178 - Powered industrial trucks for more details.

Please note that this article is not intended to take the place of a comprehensive telehandler operator training program.

Alexander Equipment offers telehandler operator classes scheduled on an as needed basis. Schedule your telehandler operator training