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Author: Jeff Ord, ForkliftSafety.com 

Forklift Operator Age Requirements 

 The purpose of this article is to inform employers that youth employment regulations (29CFR570) promulgated under the Fair Labor Standards Act, prohibits most employees under the age of 18 years from operating forklifts for non-agricultural operations. 

Employers must be reminded that all forklift operators that are 18 years old or older must be trained and the employer must certify that their operators are competent to operate forklifts. Employers must identify, obtain and apply additional resources to ensure a safe and healthful workplace for all workers on a consistent daily basis. 

Regulations promulgated pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act prohibit individuals younger than 18 years of age from engaging in specified hazardous occupational activities. 29CFR570.58- Occupations involved in the operations of power-driven hoisting apparatus (Order 7), paragraph (a)(5), specifically prohibits employees under 18 years of age from operating forklifts in non-agricultural employment. 

In 2002, the Wage and Hour Division of the Employment Standards Administration initiated a “Stop” sticker program. As part of the that program, WHD developed a sticker that can be applied to forklifts to provide a warning regarding prohibition against workers under 18 years of age operating a forklift. 

Employers have the responsibility to comply with the 29CFR1910.178 in order to ensure the safe operation of powered industrial trucks at their facility. In addition, since Order 7 of Hazardous Occupations prohibits employees under 18 years of age from operating forklifts, employers must make certain that workers under 18 years of age are not permitted to operate forklifts under any circumstances. Employers that employ individuals younger than 18 years of age also must be cognizant of other employment activities prohibited for young workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Employers, educators, parents and young workers all are encouraged to visit the DOL and OSHA web pages for additional information on creating and maintaining compliant, safe and healthful work environments. 

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