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What is the Minimum Age for Operating Fork Lift Trucks?

Extract Taken From The Fork Lift Truck Association Fact Sheet 01

Children under minimum school leaving age should never operate lift trucks.”

It also states that operators of fork lift trucks on docks premises must be at least 18.

These are the only clear age related statements in official documents. However, guidance goes on to say that young persons, under 18, often lack experience and maturity and are at greater risk than older employees and should not be allowed to operate fork lift trucks without adequate supervision.

Many trainers will not accept trainee operators under the age of 17.

The minimum ages specified in road traffic legislation apply when fork lift trucks are operated on public roads. Currently this would be age 17 for trucks up to 3.5 tonnes gvw, 18 up to 7.5 tonnes gvw, and 21 for heavier equipment.


Further information is available in the following publications which are readily available from HSE Books (Telephone 01787 881165).

Rider-Operated Lift Trucks:                                                    Operator Training Young People At Work
Approved Code of Practice                                                     and Guidance A Guide For Employers
HSC Code L117                                                                       HSE Code HSG165
ISBN: 0-7176-2455-2                                                              ISBN: 0-7176-1889-7
Price £5.00                                                                              Price £7.95