A Woman Operating A Forklift And Talking To A Man

How Can I Get a Forklift License in Australia: A Step-By-Step Guide

Walk into any construction site, recycling plant, or warehouse, and the common machinery you will find is the humble forklift. While they may not look as impressive as other heavy earth-moving equipment, forklifts are incredibly versatile for moving objects in small spaces.

With forklifts being an essential part of the work environment across industries in Australia, having a forklift license can be a big advantage. Experienced forklift operators are considered an integral part of a logistics team in various large corporations.

Plus, there are shortages of trained drivers all over the world, so it might just be your winning ticket in case you’re jobless or are looking to switch industries.

If you are wondering how to get a forklift license, we are here to help. Let us take a closer look at the details of how to obtain a forklift licence in Australia.

2 Types of Forklift Licence in Australia

A Man In Red Working Suit Drives A Forklift In A Big Warehouse

The forklift licence guidelines are set by Safe Work Australia, the national policy body that implements the administering of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984. According to their directives, it is mandatory to obtain a High-Risk Work License (HRWL) to operate a forklift in line with health and safety laws. 

This is where things can get confusing for license aspirants. Allow me to clarify.

As per Safe Work Australia, there are two main types of forklift licences.

  • LF – Forklift Truck Operation Licence
  • LO – Order-Picking Forklift Truck Operation Licence

Beyond these two, there is another licence marked as 1 RS. This is a Reach Stacker Operation Licence that can handle heavy-lift operations mainly in ports and terminals. 

For this article, we will focus on traditional forklifts and keep Reach Stackers aside.

Now, you may start wondering which forklift licence is the right one to get. Ultimately, the choice depends on your career choices and the job requirements. Also, you can think of getting both to broaden the scope of job opportunities. 

To understand the differences, let us take a closer look at the two licence types.

LF – License to operate a forklift truck

This license allows you to operate any forklift except those that are classified as order-picking forklifts or a LO-classified vehicle. 

The LF category includes standard forklift trucks like counterbalance forklift trucks, side-loading forklift trucks, all-terrain forklift trucks, reach forklift trucks, and articulated forklift trucks. 

These vehicles cover the use of forklifts in most warehouse and industrial settings.

LO – License to operate an order-picking forklift truck

The LO forklifts are specially designed for operating in narrow warehouse aisles. The operator can raise their platform to a height of 10 metres while using such trucks. This makes the operation mechanism different and operators need to wear a safety harness. 

These forklifts are more advanced and are used in distribution centres with high-shelving units spread along narrow aisles.

Australian Forklift Licence Requirements

The exact requirements for a forklift licence requirements can vary depending on your state or territory. But the list of national requirements remains the same.

  • You need to be at least 18 years old.
  • Since both the training itself and examination includes theory, you need to have decent spoken and written English to attend the course. An important concern if you’re an immigrant!
  • You have to amass 100 points of identification at the training course. This means providing a combination of at least 2 state-issued documents where at least one needs to be a certificate of citizenship, driver licence, passport, visa, birth certificate and the like. The other can be one of the so-called secondary docs, like marriage certificate, change of name or Medicare card. The point of this paperwork is to double-check your identity.
  • You need to do your training at any of the registered training organisations (RTO), with a WorkSafe assessor being present at the training.
  • Once you’re done with the training course, there’s another round of paperwork to submit to WorkSafe to apply for a valid forklift licence.

Forklift Training Course and License Application: A Detailed Guide

First, you need to pick a registered training organisation with a positive reputation. Generally, this is a two-day course for beginners

Now, of course, there’s a course fee to pay, and it can be anywhere from $400 to $700, depending on the institute you pick. Several training institutes also offer a 4-day combined course for those who want both types of licences.

The course covers topics related to safety procedures, forklift operating techniques, and maintenance. Other topics include conducting risk assessments, load capacity calculations, and practising moving the vehicle in various situations. 

Plus, you will need to learn the correct interpretation of safety guidelines, forklift specifications, and technical data plates.

The assessment takes place on the second day. It involves a test of written knowledge, calculations, and practical skills assessment. The trainer will observe you operate the forklift through obstacles and move loads of different categories. 

Keep in mind that the questions are technical and the answers need to meet the WorkSafe standards. Yes, it means you may not be able to clear the assessment on the first attempt. Fret not, though: you can re-sit the assessment in 60 days.

Once you have passed the assessment, you will receive the following documents:

  • Notice of Satisfactory Assessment  (NOA)
  • WorkSafe Application Form
  • A statement of Attainment for the Unit of Competency TLILIC0003 – Licence To Operate a Forklift Truck

Good news: the hard part is over. 

Next comes the process of the actual forklift license application. This part is easy.

After receiving the above documents, you’ll have a 60-day deadline to submit the license application. You can do this online through a Myworksafe account. Otherwise, you can apply along with the necessary fees at an Australian post office. 

Again, keep in mind that the forklift license fees vary depending on the state!

After the application process is complete, you will receive the licence by post. It remains valid for five years. A licence obtained from a state is valid across the territory of Australia.

How to Renew a Forklift License

Don’t worry, you don’t need to set up reminders.

In some states, like the NSW, you will get a reminder message 60 days before the licence expiry date. You can apply for an online renewal by filling out an online application form. The other option is to visit a participating Australia Post with your licence, proof of identity, and the necessary renewal fees.

Note that the licence must be renewed within 12 months after the expiry date. Beyond this period, you will have to redo the training and the assessment.

Job Opportunities for Forklift Operators in Australia

Operating a forklift is a high-risk activity and it needs the right level of training and skill.

According to the SafeWork website, between 2017-2022, 1,538 forklift-related incidents were recorded in NSW alone. Having a valid forklift LF and LO license and the right skills will help you fit into multiple industry roles.

The good news is, there is no shortage in demand for trained forklift operators. As of this writing, the average annual salary of a forklift operator in Australia is $64,202. Operators with higher experience can earn as much as $74,990 per year.

At times, owners of small businesses need to unload items from a truck. A forklift license works for them too. One particularly inspiring story is that of a 75-year-old woman who earned a forklift licence and entered the industry. “Life is too short to stay stagnant,” she said.

How to Get a Forklift Licence: FAQs

Do you need a driving license to operate a forklift in Australia?

No. Having a driving licence is not a necessity for obtaining a high-risk work licence for operating a forklift in Australia. Still, it will be seen as an advantage and proof that you already have a decent coordination.

Can you operate a forklift without a license in NSW?

No, you cannot operate a forklift without a license in NSW. If you do it, you’re asking for a hefty fine as well as prosecution!

Are forklift drivers in demand in Australia?

Since forklifts are used across multiple industries, the operators are in high demand across Australia, but also worldwide!