Telehandlers are a versatile type of mobile lifting machine which incorporates a telescopic boom. The most common type has forks, but they are also compatible with a range of attachments including earth moving buckets, work platforms or lifting jibs. These machines need to be handled by properly trained and licensed operators, and there are major fines if anyone is found in breach of those requirements.


What kind of license do I need?

Licensing requirements depend on the weight of the vehicle, and different rules apply according to the specific type of telehandler:


  1. a) Telehandlers with a capacity of three tonnes or less

 Telehandler operators with a capacity of three tonnes or less are not required to have a specific licence, but need to be competent in their use and have sufficient training in regards to the telehandler and attachment being used.


  1. b) Telehandlers with a capacity greater than three tonnes

 A mobile crane licence (with the minimum being a non–slewing CN licence) is required if the telehandler has a capacity greater than three tonne and does not have a work platform fitted. A forklift licence is not an acceptable alternative.


  1. c) Telehandlers operated from a work platform

 If a telehandler is being operated from a work platform with a boom length of 11 metres or more, a boom type EWP operator licence is required. For booms less than 11 metres, operators must have the relevant training and competency.


  1. d) Slewing telehandlers

Slewing telehandlers that have a limit greater than five degrees are considered slewing mobile cranes. This means that operators are required to have the appropriate high risk crane licence such as the C0, C1, C2 or C6.


Is it OK if I just have a forklift license?

A forklift licence does not establish telehandler competency due to differing operational requirements. If a person operating a telehandler of three tonne or less seeks competency confirmation via a licence based competency system, the appropriate licence is a non- slewing (CN) mobile crane licence.


Do I need a high risk licence?

 National regulators have decreed that telehandlers fall under the high risk licence category of either non-slewing or slewing crane if they have a lifting capacity greater than 3 tonne. It is important to note that the high risk licence is related to the telehandler itself, not the attachment.


What is a Gold Card and why would I need one?

 The Telehandler Gold Card – whilst not a licence – is evidence that the operator has successfully completed a training course that complies with the OH&S or WH&S Acts. It offers proof that the operator has been instructed in the safe use of a telehandler. Other alternatives are to complete in-house training schemes or user specific programs that have been delivered by a suitably qualified trainer.

Any such training content needs to meet the Australian Standard AS2550.19, manufacturers’ safe operating procedures and be compatible with the unit of competency TLILIC3008A Licence to Operate a Non Slewing Mobile Crane. Training outcomes must be documented and a certificate of participation or proof of training needs to be issued.


Where can I find telehandler training courses?

 The Elevator Work Platform Association has a comprehensive list of providers who offer telehandler training courses across Australia. The Telescopic Handler Association of Australia also feature a number of resources on their website, including links to a series of interactive training videos.

 Please note that there are variations to the training and licencing parameters throughout the different states and territories of Australia. This is a general guide only – please refer to the appropriate regulators in your state or the Telescopic Handler Association of Australia website for specific advice.