On Safety

On Safety: Training for powered industrial trucks

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Training on workplace-related topics also must include:

  • Surface conditions, including where the vehicle is to be operated, slippery conditions, and surfaces with obstructions or uneven surfaces; floor load limits; and overhead clearances
  • Composition of the loads expected to be carried, including weight, size and positions
  • Load capacity and maximum loads
  • Load stability and balance
  • Load handling, manipulation, stacking, safe handling load preparation, how to approach the load, mast position, fork position, lifting the load, lowering the head, high tiering, trucks and trailers, and railroad cars
  • Pedestrian traffic and right of way
  • Narrow aisles and other restricted places where the vehicle will be operated, including any necessary training on reach trucks, order pickers and safe stacking rules
  • Hazardous locations, including training on designated locations, indoor air quality and carbon monoxide
  • PIT operation on ramps and other sloped surfaces
  • Operation in closed environments and other areas where ventilation may be insufficient
  • Any other unique workplace environment or environmental condition

For operator certification, the employer must include the following information on the certification:

  • Operator name
  • Training date
  • Evaluation date
  • Name of the individual performing the training and evaluation

Once the operator has been certified, the certification is good for three years. At the end of the three-year period, the operator must receive refresher training. That refresher training needs to include an evaluation of the effectiveness of the training and must ensure the operator has the knowledge and skills necessary to safely operator the PIT.

If the operator demonstrates issues or deficiencies in the safe operation of the PIT, then refresher training is required. For example:

  • The operator was observed operating the PIT in an unsafe manner.
  • The employee was involved in a near miss or incident.
  • The evaluation of the operator notes deficiencies.

Refresher training also is required when:

  • The driver or operator is assigned to a different PIT.
  • A condition in the workplace changes in such a manner that it could affect the safe operation of the PIT.


1. 29 CFR 1910.178(l) – Powered Industrial Trucks
2. TWI Bulletin No. 7
3. OSHA Training Requirements – Powered Industrial Trucks (forklift operator training)
NSC Powered Industrial Truck Training
5. 7 Tips for Powered Industrial Truck Training
6. Western Carolina University Powered Industrial Truck (Forklift) Safety Program – 1910.178 OSHA Powered Industrial Trucks

This article represents the views of the author and should not be construed as a National Safety Council endorsement.

Richard Fairfax (CIH, retired 2017) joined OSHA in January 1978 and retired from the agency in 2013. At OSHA, he was a practicing field industrial hygienist, as well as the deputy director and director of enforcement programs. In 2008, Richard served as acting director of construction and, in 2010, was designated deputy assistant secretary – overseeing all field, enforcement and training operations. From 1993 through 2010, Richard wrote an industrial hygiene column entitled, “OSHA Compliance Issues” for the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene. He still serves on the Editorial Review Board. Richard now works part time for NSC-ORC HSE.

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