In fiscal year 2018, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued over 2,000 citations and more than $6 million in total penalties for violations of the Powered Industrial Truck (PIT) standard. Powered industrial trucks, commonly called forklifts or lift trucks, are used in many industries, primarily to move materials. OSHA defines a PIT as “any mobile power-propelled truck used to carry, push, pull, lift, stack or tier materials.” Powered industrial trucks can either be ridden by an operator or controlled by a walking operator. Though forklifts come in many shapes and sizes, they are all regulated under OSHA’s PIT standard, 29 CFR § 1910.178. Over-the-road haulage trucks and earth-moving equipment that has been modified to accept forks are not considered powered industrial trucks.
Forklift use presents many potential hazards, including property damage and driver and pedestrian injury or fatality. OSHA statistics indicate that there are roughly 85 forklift fatalities and 34,900 serious injuries each year. To address potential hazards, OSHA developed a comprehensive PIT standard that addresses operator training, maintenance and inspection, and safe operation. Key elements of each of these components are outlined below.
Prior to permitting an employee to operate a powered industrial truck (except for training purposes), employers must ensure that operators are competent to operate a PIT safely. This is accomplished by training operators on all truck and work-related topics outlined in the standard (section l) that are applicable to your workplace. Training must consist of a combination of formal instruction (e.g., lecture, discussion, interactive computer learning, video tape, written material), practical training (demonstrations performed by the trainer and practical exercises performed by the trainee), and evaluation of the operator's performance in the workplace. Employees must be trained separately for each different type of forklift they will be using. Trainers do not require any special certification, but they must be competent in knowledge, training, and experience to train PIT operators and evaluate their competence. Also, contrary to popular belief, operators are not required to have a valid driver’s license or be issued any type of formal forklift “license”.
Refresher training is only required in relevant topics when:
An evaluation of each powered industrial truck operator's performance must be conducted at least once every three years as well as part of the operators initial training. The evaluation must consist of an observation of the operator.
A training record must be maintained for initial training, re-training, and every subsequent evaluation to certify that each operator has been trained and evaluated as required by the standard. The certification must include the name of the operator, date of training and/or evaluation and identity of the trainer.
OSHA prohibits operation of forklifts if they are not in safe operating condition; PITs must be inspected before use daily. If any conditions that could adversely affect the safety of the vehicle are found during inspection, the PIT should not be placed into service. If PITs are used on a round-the-clock basis, they must be inspected after each shift. Unlike training and evaluation, OSHA does not require that forklift inspections be documented. However, using an inspection checklist is recommended as an easy way to validate completion and prove compliance to OSHA should they come knocking.
In Minnesota, employers are also required to conduct Carbon Monoxide Monitoring (Minnesota Rules 5205.0116) when internal combustion engine PITs are operated indoors. Air monitoring is required quarterly and should represent highest usage/exposure. Tailpipe exhaust gas analysis must also be conducted as part of a regular maintenance program. While a frequency is not spelled out in the rule, common practice is annually. Records of monitoring must be maintained.
There isn’t enough room in this blog post to cover all the rules of safe operation, so please consult standard 1910.178 for more information. Drivers must know and adhere to all safety rules when operating a PIT. The one critical rule that deserves emphasis is "Always wear your seat belt." Failure to do so can result in an operator being thrown outside a forklift’s protective cage in the event the truck overturns. According to OSHA, its enforcement policy on the use of seat belts on powered industrial trucks is that "employers are obligated to require operators of powered industrial trucks which are equipped with operator restraint devices or seat belts to use the devices." Compliance officers will enforce the use of such devices under Section 5(a)(1) of the OSHA Act, the General Duty Clause. OSHA may also cite employers who do not take advantage of a manufacturer operator restraint system or seat belt retrofit program.
Looking for a training resource to help you meet your risk management and safety requirements? The Associated Compass learning management system offers a wide range of safety and risk management courses, including forklift safety. Contact us to learn more.
Amy assists clients with identifying and mitigating risk, resolves carrier loss prevention recommendations, develops and implements safety programs, evaluates training needs and delivers customized training solutions.
Amy assists clients with identifying and mitigating risk, resolves carrier loss prevention recommendations, develops and implements safety programs, evaluates training needs and delivers customized training solutions. She brings a practical approach that has been developed in the real world which translates into improving client safety performance. Amy’s strengths include developing safety programs compliant with OSHA and DOT regulations, conducting management and employee training, organizing and leading safety committees, enhancing safety awareness and building safety cultures and facilitating carrier loss control inspections.
If you could give human form to your safety culture, what would it look like?
Maybe it would be a thick-set, shirtless brute named Trog with a foul disposition beating out a drum cadence to keep your employees rowing in-sync.
Or would it be more like a fussy and constantly disapproving Dickensian paper-pusher named Fizzlewhite who has never met a rule or procedure he didn’t like, even though he hasn’t done most of the things he creates rules to address?
If you were to search the various “mommy blogs” and parenting advice websites out there, how many of them do you think would endorse the following practice?
A child’s safety should always be a top priority for any parent. When leaving children under the age of 10 alone in the house for lengthy periods of time, be sure to provide the kids with a loaded pistol with the safety off in case a stranger should happen by. In a pinch, recently sharpened knives can be substituted for the pistol.
Send a Message
Find a Location