On Safety

On Safety: Training for powered industrial trucks

Photo: Thaspol/iStockphoto

A common question we receive concerns the requirements for powered industrial truck training. Although the literature includes many references and discussion points, the following provides an overall summary of OSHA’s training requirements under 1910.178(l). This summary is based on references provided at the conclusion of this blog post.

OSHA requires that operators of PITs be trained before operating the equipment independently. That training must consist of instruction – classroom (lecture based) and practical training – on the safe and proper operation of the PIT, the hazards of operating the vehicle in the workplace, and the requirements of the OSHA standard on PITs. Operators who have completed the training must then be evaluated while they operate the PIT in the workplace. Additionally, operators must periodically be evaluated (at least once every three years) to ensure their skills remain at a high level and receive refresher training whenever there’s a demonstrated need (e.g., a crash, reckless driving, a near miss).

To maximize the effectiveness of the training, OSHA doesn’t require training that’s duplicative of other training the employee has received, provided the operator has been evaluated and found competent to operate the PIT safely. OSHA training provisions also require the employer to certify that training and evaluations have been conducted. The person who conducts the PIT training, refresher training, evaluations and certification of the operator, under 1910.178(l), need not be employed by the employer of the operator. Such third-party training, including appropriate on-the-job training, may be provided by an employers association, a labor union, a joint labor-management training organization or any other organization meeting the requirements of the standard (such as the National Safety Council). However, any OSHA citation related to PIT training discrepancies or deficiencies would be issued to the host employer.

OSHA does require that PIT training be based on:

  • The general principles of the safe operation of the vehicle
  • The type of PIT being used
  • The hazards present when using a forklift in the workplace
  • The general safety requirements of the OSHA standard on PIT

Before any employee can operate a PIT in their workplace, the employer must evaluate the forklift operator’s performance and determine if they can operate the PIT appropriately. The operator must be able to demonstrate that they can do the job safety and properly.

Under 1910.178(l), forklift training requirements include:

  • Operating instructions, warnings and precautions for the type of PIT the employee will be using
  • The differences between a PIT and an automobile
  • PIT controls and instrumentation, including where they’re located, what they do and how they work
  • Engine and motor operation
  • Steering and maneuvering
  • Visibility and attachment adaptations, operation, and use limitations
  • PIT capacity
  • PIT stability
  • Vehicle inspections and maintenance that the employee will have to perform, including battery charging and/or fuel tank exchanges (refueling and battery charging)
  • Operator limitation of the forklift
  • Vehicle speed limitations and requirements
  • Use of seat belts

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