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Specialized equipment
  • OSHA’s PIT standard includes powered pallet jacks, requiring proper operator training and daily inspections.

Powered pallet jacks

Powered pallet jacks are a type of Powered Industrial Truck (PIT) used to move pallets. Pallet jacks are battery powered and are one of two designs: either walk-behind or ride-on.

There are different types of pallet jacks as well, such as low lift or high lift. The controls for different designs may vary.

OSHA requires employers to:

  • Evaluate the workplace for motorized pallet jacks. OSHA’s PIT standard covers all types of powered pallet jacks and similar equipment. The key is “powered”; manually operated lifts are not covered.
  • Train all operators. All PIT operators must undergo a rigorous training that includes a combination of:
    • Formal instruction, such as:
      • lecture,
      • discussion,
      • interactive computer learning,
      • video, and
      • written material.
    • Practical training, including:
      • demonstrations performed by the trainer, and
      • practical exercises performed by the trainee.
    • Evaluation of the operator’s performance in the workplace.
  • Re-evaluate operators at least once every three years and document this evaluation.
  • Provide refresher training when operators are observed driving unsafely, involved in an incident or near miss, or are assigned a different type of equipment.
  • Allow only qualified persons to train operators. Persons wishing to train forklift operators must have the “knowledge, training, and experience” to train operators and evaluate their competence. The OSHA standard does not further define this requirement or set any specific certifications.
  • Ensure equipment is inspected at least daily. Where pallet jacks are used on a round-the-clock basis, they must be examined after each shift. OSHA does not require these inspections be documented; however, many companies keep a set number of inspections (e.g., "the most recent 2-month period") as a way to prove to OSHA the inspections are being conducted.
  • Remove unsafe equipment from service immediately.
  • Only allow employees to operate correctly classified equipment in hazardous atmospheres to prevent explosion hazards.
  • Set and enforce operating rules. Employers should refer to the manufacturer’s safety instructions for procedures such as operating on ramps, function of controls, maintenance, etc.
  • Provide designated areas for battery charging/changing operations. This includes provisions for adequate ventilation, protection of the charging equipment, spill cleanup, and an eyewash/shower if workers could be exposed to the batteries' dangerous substances (e.g., they open the caps).