A common question we receive here at Workplace Training Centre is, ‘I have a forklift licence, does that mean I can use a telehandler?

We believe this is because when a telehandler uses one of its most common attachments; the fork tynes, it looks similar to a forklift. But it is actually a very different piece of machinery and requires a different licence or training to operate.

In this post we will go over what licence and or training is required for each machine and the key differentiating characteristics of each machine to help you tell them apart.



To operate a forklift in Australia, you are required to have a High risk Work Licence either class LF or LO.

An LF licence is for a counterbalanced forklift (most commonly used forklift) and an LO licence is for an Order Picking forklift. A High Risk Work Forklift licence will only allow you to operate a Forklift.

To obtain a High Risk Work licence you must complete training and a High Risk Work assessment through a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) then submit your successful High Risk Work Licence assessment (NSA) to the WHS regulator of your state or territory. How you submit your NSA depends on where you completed your assessment. For example, students who complete their forklift assessment in NSW are required to submit their assessment paperwork to a post office, whereas students who complete their assessments in QLD submit theirs online through their myGov account.


Telescopic Handler (Telehandler)Forklift licence NSW

Licencing for telehandler is a bit more confusing, because it differs depending on the capacity of the telehandler you are operating, the attachment being used and the state or territory which you are operating in. You will either require Duty of Care (DOC) training, such as the telehandler Gold Card licence OR you may require a High Risk Work Licence.


In terms of Duty of care training, we always recommend the Telehandler Gold Card licence, this is because they are issued and regulated through the Telescopic Handler Association of Australia (TSHA) and is a commonly requested on job sites around Australia.

You could also complete the Nationally Recognised Unit of Competence RIIHAN309E – Conduct telescopic materials handler operations, this can be done on its own or in conjunction with the gold card licence.

See table below for when DOC or Gold Card (GC) training is required.


So, if you require a High Risk Work licence to operate a telehandler, which one do you get? Well, according to SafeWork licencing a Telehandler actually falls under the category of a Mobile Crane except for when it has EWP basket attachment with above 11m reach. In this case it is classified as a Boom type EWP and will require a High Risk Work WP licence to operate.

Now this means if you hold a HRW Crane Licence class CN, you are covered to operate a non-slewing telehandler of any size, in any state, with all attachments excluding EWP basket with above 11m reach. If you hold any of the following HRW Crane Licence classes CN, C2, C6, C1, C0 you are covered to operate any slewing or non-slewing telehandler of any size, in any state, with all attachments excluding EWP basket with above 11m reach.

Forklift VS Telehandler

So, you now know which licence you need for each machine, but it’s not always that easy to tell the machines apart, so, we are going to give you key identifying qualities of each machine that will allow you to identify what machine you are looking at.

Forklift: A forklift will have a vertical mast and an elevating load carriage. A pair of fork tynes or another load-holding attachment is fitted to the body.

To book onto one of our Forklift courses click here

Telehandler: A Telehandler will have a telescoping boom with varying height/reach and a lifting attachment (Forks, jib, bucket etc.)

To book onto one of our Telehandler courses click here

The table below shows what training or High Risk licence is required for telehandlers in each state with the most commonly used attachments
Under 3t Forks/Hook/JibOver 3t ForksOver 3t Hook/JibEWP basket >11mSlewing any capacity