OSHA Standards

OSHA Regulations
(Standards - 29 CFR)
Powered industrial trucks - 1910.178

OSHA has maintained standards for forklift operators since 1971, however, recently the requirements have increased. The new rule spells out detailed training requirements for operators of "powered industrial trucks". OSHA defines PIT's as "mobile, powered-driven vehicles used to carry, push, pull, lift, stack, or tier material." Included in this group would be equipment such as forklifts, pallet trucks and high lift trucks.  The new rule for forklifts went into effect on March 1, 1999.The December 1, 1998 regulation expands on 29 CFR 1910.178 that outlines the obligations of employers whose workers operate forklifts and other workplace vehicles. This new regulation was implemented to give employers all necessary information to ensure that each employee is properly trained to properly operate these vehicles.

The new provisions mandate a training program that bases the amount and type of training required on several factors including; the operator's prior knowledge and skill level, the hazards present in the workplace, the types of powered industrial trucks the operator will operate in the workplace, and the operator's demonstrated ability to operate a powered industrial truck safely.

Per the regulations, refresher training is required if; the operator is involved in an accident or a near-miss incident, changes occur in the workplace that could affect safe operation of the truck, the operator has been observed operating the vehicle in an unsafe manner, the operator is assigned to operate a different type of truck or the operator has been determined during an evaluation to need additional training. Retraining periodically will not be required if an employee is deemed by an evaluation to be competent to perform their duties. However, you are required to evaluate each truck operator's performance at least every three years to ensure that the employee is able to retain and use the knowledge and skills necessary to operate the truck.

According to OSHA you may hire a firm to provide training or develop a company training program. For employees who have already been hired or will be hired by December 1, 1999, training and evaluation must be completed by December 1, 1999. For those employees hired after that date, training must occur before the employee actually operates the truck as a part of his or her workday.The training program must be based on; the operator's prior knowledge and skill in operating powered vehicles, the operator's demonstrated ability to operate a powered truck safely as well as the hazards present in the workplace.

Additionally, the training must consist of both classroom and practical instruction in proper operation of the vehicle, possible hazards, and other specific requirements contained in the rule. These include things such as operating instructions, engine and motor operation, and vehicle stability. During practical training, the trainee may only operate a powered industrial truck under the direct supervision of the instructor in an area where other employees will not be threatened. The training must conclude with evaluations of each trainee.

OSHA will allow an employee's training in a previous job to apply toward training requirements for a current employer. Because every business has different equipment, it is recommended that all new employees be trained on the equipment that will be used in your facility.

OSHA requires that employers "certify" that the training and evaluations have been completed. The certification should include the name of the operator, the date of training, and identity of the trainer. It is recommended that employers retain training materials and, if the training was conducted by an outside consultant, the name and address of the trainer.

Simons Consulting LLC
Safety Coordinator
PO Box 334
Warsaw, IN 46581
574.566.2725 phone