forklift operator is transferring to another company with valid certification, can he still use it?

There’s a situation when a forklift operator leaves the company to transfer and work for another. During his stay with the company, he was trained, certified and issued with operator card. The forklift license he has in possession is still valid. Now, he is resigning to work for another employer. 

The question is his forklift certification can be used to get a job in another company?

Let’s us assume the operator has already submitted his employment documents such as the certificate of employment and forklift training certificate to new company. If I were the new employer, I will only accept these as evidence of qualification.

The answer to that question is that it cannot be used.

Let me explain why. Different employers have their own different safety training standards. Some companies provide training that exceeds what OSHA regulation requires and may have stricter safety rules, others may be below the standards and lax. In short, some employers comply with the regulation and enforce the standards better than others.

Now, there could be an instance when the new employer has higher standard than the former employer, or it could be the other way around. Whatever the situation may be, the new employer has to conduct new session of training and evaluation for the operator.

In what areas should the operator be trained?

Let us visit the OSHA 29 CFR 1910 regulation.

1910.178(l)(2)(ii) – the training process shall compose of formal education (classroom instruction) and evaluation of the operator’s performance in the workplace.

1910.178(l)(3)(ii) Workplace Related Topics – evaluation shall be conducted in surface condition where the forklift will be operated in [1910.178(l)(3)(ii)(A)],
other unique or potentially hazardous environmental conditions in the workplace that could affect safe operation [1910.178(l)(3)(ii)(I)].

1910.178(l)(4) - Refresher training and evaluation. Specifically, the 1910.178(l)(4)(ii)(E),
a condition in the workplace changes in a manner that could affect safe operation of the truck.

Since the operator will be driving in different environment and workplace condition, these OSHA general requirements will be applicable. These are significant basis for the new employer to conduct training for the operator.

In addition, if the operator will be tasked to operate in his new job different types or classes of forklifts he is not used to or familiar with, he must be trained as well in equipment-specific issues (1910.178(l)(3)(i) - Truck-related topics).

The training course to be provided to operator must comprise of safe operation of the specific type of forklift that will be driven by the worker, due to the various skills required for each class.

What If You’re Moving to Another State?

If you will be working in a new company located in other state, the same thing applies. You should be trained by your new employer. The training requirements will be the same.

Unless, you are moving in Massachusetts where the law specifically specifies that "No person shall operate hoisting machinery unless the operator holds a license or temporary permit." The license requirements for a Massachusetts to submit for an application are: a copy of your driver's license and DOT medical card. Applicant applying for a license must pass a written test and operator's exams, to be administered by the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety.

What Will be Your Proof of Training Completion?

The new company can issue operator card after the successful certification process. The card will also serve as worker’s identification and record of operator’s ability and limitation.

The information that must be included are: name and signature of the operator, date of the training completion, name and signature of the trainer who delivered the course, classes of trucks the operator is certified to operate, photo of the operator (this is necessary to prevent misuse, there are reports that operator lend their card to others).

Some Words for the Employer

It is required for you to maintain and keep training record of your operators. Whether you are small firm composing of less than 20 workers or large company who has a hundred or more employees, keeping database or record like training attendance sheets, photocopy of operator cards, contract with outside consultant (if trainer is hired from outside source), screenshot of online certification (if formal education is provided through online mean) and other evidence that will show proof of compliance can prevent you from receiving OSHA citation when their inspector visited your worksite unannounced.


Formal and hands-on training have to be done, when you transfer to another employer, so that you do not become a liability instead of an asset.

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