Forklift training and competency

This guidance explains the requirement for forklift operators to receive information, instruction, training or supervision. The guidance is for employers. It may also benefit others with work health and safety duties.


Forklift definition

Part 3.6 of the OHS Regulations covers high-risk work, including forklift operation. For Part 3.6, a forklift means a powered industrial truck equipped with:

  • a mast, and
  • elevating load carriage to which a pair of fork arms or other load-holding attachment is attached

This guidance is for powered industrial trucks that fit this definition. To reflect common use, the guidance refers to these powered industrial trucks as forklifts.

A forklift for Part 3.6 does not include:

  • a pedestrian-operated industrial truck
  • a pallet truck that is unable, by design, to raise its fork arms 900 mm or more above the ground
  • an order-picking forklift truck
  • a tractor fitted with a pair of fork arms or other load-holding attachment

Duty to provide information, instruction, training or supervision

Employers have duties to provide employees with information, instruction, training or supervision. As an employer, you must meet a standard when fulfilling these duties. You must provide what is necessary to keep employees safe and healthy. This includes employees involved in the operation of forklifts. Employees require information, instruction and training before they operate a forklift or perform a task.

You must also provide employees with information, instruction and training if:

  • a hazard from plant is identified, and
  • risk controls are used

As an employer it is important to be aware of any language and cultural barriers in your workforce that may affect communication. You should take steps to address the barriers.

Training and licensing

The following information explains the training requirements for people involved in the safe operation of a forklift.

Type of training

Evidence of operator competency or training

Required competency or training

Illustration of a hand holding a high-risk work licence.
Figure 1: An example of a high-risk work licence.

Type of training

Forklift familiarisation training

Required competency or training

For all forklift operators. The forklift model may be different from the model that operators used during training and assessment for the HRWL. In this case, operators will need training to familiarise them with the forklift they will be operating.

Forklift designs can differ between manufacturers and even models by the same manufacturer.

Training should include:

  • safe operation of the forklift and any safety features
  • capacity and load limits
  • how to understand the forklift information plate
  • pre-start inspection requirements

Type of training

Familiarisation training on the use of attachments.

Required competency or training

Familiarisation training should be provided for any attachments used with the forklift.

Type of training

Operator training specific to the task and work environment.

Required competency or training

All forklift operators should receive information, instruction and training on:

  • the traffic management plan, pedestrian safety, exclusion zones
  • task procedures where a forklift is used
  • reporting procedures in the case of, for example, breakdowns, collisions, damage
  • refuelling and recharging processes
  • the type of loads to be moved
  • steps to take when a defect or fault is identified


Sufficient supervision must be in place to ensure forklift operators follow safe operation practices. Additional supervision may be required to support vulnerable workers. Vulnerable workers include labour hire, young and culturally and linguistically diverse employees.

Direct supervision is required for a trainee who is unlicensed and working towards obtaining an HRWL. The supervisor must have an HRWL for the type of forklift being operated. The supervisor should have direct line of sight and verbal control of the unlicensed person using the forklift.

Further information


Safety alerts


Industry and standards

The following standards include information relevant to the use and operation of forklifts. If a standard has been superseded, refer to the updated document.

  • AS 1319:1994 - Safety signs for the occupational environment.
  • AS/NZS 1596:2014 - The storage and handling of LP Gas.
  • AS/NZS 1680 (series) - Interior and workplace lighting.
  • AS 1742 (series) - Manual of uniform traffic control devices.
  • AS 1763:1985 - Industrial trucks – Glossary of terms.
  • AS 1940:2017 (series) - The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids.

Related pages

This information is from WorkSafe's Forklift safety guidebook. The complete guide is available in two formats.

Website version PDF guidebook