Who Can and Can’t Drive a Forklift

In the dynamic world of forklift operation, safety is paramount. Understanding who can and can’t operate a forklift and the challenges each individual may face is vital to ensuring the smooth running of a business. This blog looks at the guidelines surrounding forklift operation for these individuals and how we can help ensure both safety and efficiency for these individuals. 

  • At What Age Can You Drive a Forklift?
  • Can You Drive a Forklift If You Are Deaf?
  • Can You Drive a Forklift If You Are Visually Impaired?
  • Can You Drive a Forklift If You Have Epilepsy?
  • I’m Pregnant, Can I Drive a Forklift?
  • Other Reasons You Can’t Drive a Forklift
  • I Meet The Requirements, How Do I Get Trained To Drive a Forklift?

At What Age Can You Drive a Forklift?

Forklift operators need to be at least minimum school-leaving age. This means in the UK, anyone over the age of 16 can drive a forklift truck. However, most companies will not train anyone under the age of 17, and some employers will only hire people aged over 18 due to health and safety regulations. 

People aged between 16 and 18 are classed as young people. This means if a young person is employed, a great amount of risk assessment is needed to ensure they are working in a safe environment. For example, a risk assessment must take into account the young person’s psychological and physical immaturity as well as inexperience.

Additionally, before hiring a young person, their maturity and competence must be taken into account to guarantee the safety of other staff and the young person themself. The level of supervision a young person may need will be based on these factors. 

Full training must also be provided to ensure they understand how a forklift operates and the rules surrounding driving a forklift. All training must be to the highest standard following ACOP L117. 

Can You Drive a Forklift If You Are Deaf?

There is a certain level of hearing you need to operate a forklift, as you may need to listen out for any obstructions or dangers when driving the forklift. Furthermore, you may need to follow instructions that are given verbally. However, this does not mean that if you are deaf, you are unable to drive a forklift. 

In some cases, getting a doctor’s approval or using a hearing aid is sufficient to guarantee that you are able to drive a forklift safely. Employers may have to amend their everyday working procedures to enable deaf forklift drivers to do their jobs efficiently. For example, using hand signals may be one way to mitigate any challenges. 

Can You Drive a Forklift If You Are Visually Impaired?

The general consensus is the rules for driving on public roads are applied to driving a forklift. In terms of being visually impaired, the same rules apply. If you are visually impaired, but this can be corrected by wearing glasses, you must wear your glasses when operating a forklift. Additionally, if you are completely blind in one eye, you may need to be checked to see if you are still able to see hazards in your peripheral vision. 

This is not just applicable to people who are visually impaired, however. It is recommended that anyone who is required to drive a forklift should have their peripheral vision and depth perception tested to ensure they are able to operate a forklift safely. 

Can You Drive a Forklift If You Have Epilepsy?

As with visual impairment, the same rules that apply to driving on public roads apply to operating a forklift. If you have epilepsy but your seizures are under control, then you may be able to drive a forklift. If you have a singular seizure, you can operate a forklift from 6 months after the seizure, given that there have been no other seizures since. If you have had more than one seizure, you can operate a forklift 12 months after your last seizure. 

There are some deviations from this rule, though. For example, if you have seizures in your sleep or seizures that don’t affect your consciousness, you may still be able to operate a forklift. You should follow the advice of your doctor before attempting to drive a forklift.  

I’m Pregnant, Can I Drive a Forklift?

It is not recommended that you drive a forklift whilst pregnant. This is because forklifts can sometimes emit whole-body vibrations. This can be harmful to pregnant women as prolonged exposure to being shaken or jolted can cause back pain and increase the chance of a miscarriage. Any activities that shock or jolt the abdomen also increase the chance of a premature birth. 

Employers should accommodate pregnant employees by offering them alternative work if their primary role is to operate forklifts. It is also advised more breaks should be given to pregnant women as they are prone to sickness, fatigue, and other pregnancy symptoms. 

Reasons You Can’t Drive a Forklift

It may seem obvious, but there are other occasions where you should not operate a forklift, such as when under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Driving a forklift requires all your attention, just like driving a car does, so the same rules for driving under the influence apply to this situation. 

All forklift operators should be trained to a high standard, be healthy, and not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Operators should be well-versed in how their particular forklift works to ensure other employees are working in a safe environment. 

I Meet The Requirements, How Do I Get Trained To Drive a Forklift?

Do you meet the requirements for a forklift operator and want to start your training? At HL Training, you can become an accredited forklift operator to enhance your workforce’s skills. We offer professional on-site and in-house forklift training endorsed by the UK’s leading accrediting bodies. Contact our team by either calling us at 0117 952 5625 or filling out our online form to start enhancing your skills today.  

Who Can Drive a Forklift FAQs

Do forklift truck drivers require a medical examination? 

It is recommended forklift drivers undergo a medical examination as being a forklift operator requires handling heavy loads. Employees at the age of 40 should be medically screened in five-year intervals until the age of 65. Any operators over 65 should be screened annually to ensure their physical health is maintained. 

What qualifications do you need to be a forklift driver?

You do not need a driving license to operate a forklift truck, but there are some other requirements. For example, you must be over the age of 16 and be fully trained. It is recommended you are trained by professionals on an accredited course to ensure you have the highest standard of training and you gain accreditation once you have completed the course. 

Can you drive a forklift truck on the road?

You can drive a forklift on the road, but you require a driving license since you will be driving on public roads. This also means rules and regulations regarding driving on the road also apply, such as eyesight rules, drunk driving is prohibited, and the use of seatbelts is required. 

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