What is a Telehandler? 

A telescopic handler or telehandler is a versatile type of mobile lifting plant incorporating a telescopic boom fitted with a lifting attachment. The most common means of lifting is by forks, but telehandlers can be fitted with a variety of attachments for different types of loads. The range of attachments that can be used will depend upon the design of the particular telehandler. The most popular attachments are: Fork Tynes, Earth Moving Bucket, Work Platform, Lifting Jib.

Do I need a high risk licence and if so which one?

No, a Forklift (LF Class) High Risk Work Licence DOES NOT allow you to operate a telehandler. The telehandler is such a versatile piece of equipment that there has been a lot of confusion as to what type of High Risk Licence is required, if any.

The matrix above can be used as a guide to find the requirements in your area.

As you can see, the regulators nationwide have agreed that a telehandler will fall under the high risk licence WP category if you use a work platform to lift personnel with a boom length 11 metres or greater, or in either slewing or non-slewing crane high risk work licence category if they have a lifting capacity greater than three tonne with a jib and hook fitted.

Slewing and Non-Slewing?

Does the top of the telehandler rotate or slew on top of the chassis and truck base in 360 degrees like an army tank or large mobile crane?

If the capacity is greater than 3,000kgs AND there is a lifting jib and hook fitted to the telehandler:

If it does not slew (most common), the telehandler fits into the high risk licence CN category for Non Slewing Mobile Crane and the operator MUST hold this licence. 

If the telehandler is of the slewing variety then a Slewing Mobile Crane Licence (C2, C6 or greater) is required. NOTE: C2 and greater crane licences also allow operation of CN class Non-Slewing Cranes.

Why would I need a gold card?

A regular question asked is ‘why do I need a "Gold Card" when my State regulator has just told me that I do not need to have a licence?’ 

If the telehandler does not fall under the high risk licensing requirements, then that answer is correct. However, the regulators do have other instruction/training requirements that the Gold Card training program is designed to meet.

The current Gold Card training program is also based on the Nationally recognised Unit of Competency (UoC) RIIHAN309D Conduct telescopic materials handler operations.

The Gold Card is not a High Risk Work licence.

The Gold Card is evidence that the holder has successfully completed a structured Nationally recognisedtraining course. 

OH&S Regulations

Every state and territory in Australia has in place an Occupational Health and Safety Act (OH&S), or have adopted, or are in the process of adopting the new Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) Act 2011, which aims to protect the health, safety and welfare of employees at work.

In both of these Acts, it is clearly stated that there is a duty of care to ensure workplace safety.

OHS Act 2000

Employers must provide the information, instruction, training and supervision necessary to ensure the health and safety of employees at work.

Manufacturers and suppliers of plant must ensure equipment is safe to use and must make available adequate information about the conditions for the safe use of the equipment manufactured or supplied.

Employees must co-operate with efforts to comply with OH&S requirements.

WHS Act 2011

Duties of a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU)/employer.

A PCBU/employer has the primary duty of care to ensure the health and safety of workers while they are at work.

A PCBU/employer is also responsible for ensuring work carried out does not carry risk to the health and safety of others.

This means the PCBU/Employer must:

  • Provide and maintain a safe work environment
  • Provide and maintain safe plant and structures
  • Provide and maintain safe systems of work
  • Ensure the safe use, handling and storage of plant, structures and substances
  • Provide adequate facilities and ensure access is maintained
  • Provide instruction, training, information and supervision
  • Monitor the health of workers and conditions at the workplace

What this means

An employer will need to show some form of proof that the operator has been instructed on the safe use of a telehandler. Verbal instruction is not an effective method of training as it lacks proof of training evidence. The Telehandler Operator Training (Gold Card) has been created by the Telescopic Handler Association as a means of helping industry to comply with this OH&S or WHS Acts.

What are the alternatives?

The Telescopic Handler Association Gold Card is the Association’s method of meeting the duty of care responsibilities. Alternatives include having in-house training schemes or user specific programs. All programs need to have a structured training format, delivered by a suitably qualified trainer. The training content should meet the Australian Standard AS2550.19, manufacturer's safe operating procedures and be in line with the unit of competency TLILIC3008A Licence to Operate a Non Slewing Mobile Crane.

What if I do nothing?

A blatant disregard of the Act will result in hefty fines and or jail, and that's if your lucky enough to get caught before a life changing injury or fatality occurs on your site, to either you or your employees.

We all have a responsibility for workplace health and safety, every employee has the right of a safe place to work and to return home from work safely.

In summary

The OHS and the WHS Acts are there to protect you in the workplace. The TSHA Operator Licence (Gold Card) is an industry initiative helping to provide a safer working environment for all stake holders. It is a nationally recognised program with a national database and aligned to a National Unit of Competency RIIHAN309D Conduct telescopic materials handler operations.

The Gold Card is valid for five years after which an email will be sent inviting the operator to renew for another five years. This renewal process will involve a short video refresher presentation followed by an online assessment to unsure currency and competency of the operator.

A renewal fee of approximately $50 is also applicable to process the renewal and issue a new card.

Course Overview

This one day training program is designed for people who wish to or are required to develop the skills and knowledge needed to operate telescopic handlers. Participants may complete the general course or add on the jib or bucket modules according to the machine they will be using.


Participants must be at least 18 years of age to be trained by auSKIL for a Telehandler Gold Card.

All participants MUST be able to speak, write and understand English in order to complete the course no exceptions or translators are allowed.

All participants are required to supply a personal email address so the renewal of the Gold Card every five years can be processed without delay.

All participants MUST be able willing to participate and operate the equipment during the practical part of the training. 


Approximately 8 hours, depending upon class size and prior knowledge and experience, for the general Telehandler Gold Card training with ONE attachment type. 

Please note that additional time for training is required should you be using a telehandler with multiple attachments i.e; forks, bucket and lifting jib attachments. 

Class size

Classes are a minimum 2 people and limited to a maximum of 6-8 people on-site depending on previous experience.

Fees and charges

There is a recommended course fee of $500/person in Sydney Metro areas.

Contact auSKIL for your own customised quote! 

Contact us

Remember, auSKIL can provide suitably qualified, insured and experienced Telehandler Operators for your next job should you decide not to receive the training option at very competitive rates.

Call auSKIL now on 0412 706 061 to book in your on-site training course or email michael@auskil.com.au