RegSenseOccupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), DOLPIT InspectionsezExplanationSafety & HealthForklifts and Powered TrucksPallet JacksSafe Operation of PITsPIT Parking and FuelingMaterials Handling and StorageForklifts and Powered TrucksPIT Training RequirementsClasses of PITsEnglishGeneral Industry SafetyBest ResultsMaterials Handling and StorageSpecialized EquipmentFocus AreaUSA
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Powered industrial trucks (PITs), commonly called forklifts or lift trucks, are used in many industries, primarily to move materials. They can also be used to raise, lower, or remove large objects or a number of smaller objects on pallets or in boxes, crates, or other containers. Powered industrial trucks can either be ridden by the operator or controlled by a walking operator. Each type presents different operating hazards. Workplace type and conditions are also factors in hazards commonly associated with powered industrial trucks. For example, OSHA says that retail establishments often face greater challenges than other worksites in maintaining pedestrian safety.
OSHA’s Powered Industrial Truck standard applies to most types of material handling equipment that is powered for horizontal movement. This includes forklifts, order pickers, powered pallet jacks, yard jockeys, stand-up and narrow aisle lift trucks, to name a few. The standard does not cover over-the-road haulage trucks and earth-moving equipment that has been modified to accept forks. In addition, the standard does not apply to scissor lifts or aerial lifts (some of those are covered by other OSHA standards, however).
As part of its process to develop a proposed rule updating its standard for powered industrial trucks (PITs), OSHA sent its pre-rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in October 2018. The current regulation at 1910.178 relies on ANSI standards from 1969, and the Industrial Truck Association has encouraged OSHA to update and expand the regulation to account for substantial revisions to ANSI standards on PITs over the last 45 years. The current regulation covers 11 types of trucks, but there are now 19 types found in industry. OSHA’s upcoming proposed rule would seek to update the consensus standard referenced from the 1969 version of the ANSI B56.1 to the 2016 version. As soon as OMB approves the pre-rule, it will appear in the Federal Register.
- 29 CFR 1910.178 — Powered industrial trucks
- Center of gravity: The point on an object at which all of the object’s weight is concentrated. For symmetrical loads, the center of gravity is at the middle of the load.
- Counterweight: The weight that is built into the truck’s basic structure and is used to offset the load’s weight and to maximize the vehicle’s resistance to tipping over.
- Grade: The slope of a surface, which is usually measured as the number of feet of rise or fall over a hundred foot horizontal distance (the slope is expressed as a percent).
- Load center: The horizontal distance from the load’s edge (or the fork’s or other attachment’s vertical face) to the line of action through the load’s center of gravity.
- Powered Industrial Truck: Fork trucks, tractors, platform lift trucks, motorized hand trucks, and other specialized industrial trucks powered by electric motors or internal combustion engines, excluding compressed air or nonflammable compressed gas-operated industrial trucks, farm vehicles, and to vehicles intended primarily for earth moving or over-the-road hauling.
- Stability triangle: The three-point suspension system that runs along an imaginary line between a forklift’s two front tires and the center of the rear axle. Even though the vehicle has four wheels, it is only supported at these three points.
Summary of requirements
OSHA requires employers to:
- Evaluate the workplace for PITs. OSHA’s PIT standard covers most types of material handling equipment that is powered for horizontal movement. This includes sit-down rider forklifts, powered pallet jacks, order pickers, reach trucks, and narrow-aisle lift trucks to name a few.
- Observe capacity ratings. The PIT’s nameplate contains important information on the PITs capacity. Capacity must never be exceeded.
- Train all operators. All PIT operators must undergo a rigorous training that includes 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. See 1910.178(l) for the full training requirements, which, among other things, include a specific list of topics, some of which may be truck- and workplace specific.
- Re-evaluate operators at least once every three years. 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 industrial trucks 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. See 29 CFR 1910.178 Table N-1.
- Set and enforce operating rules.
- 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).
- Obtain the manufacturer’s prior written approval before making modifications that would impact safety and capacity, such as adding a man basket.
READ MORESHOW LESS
['Forklifts and Powered Trucks', 'Materials Handling and Storage']
['Materials Handling and Storage', 'Pallet Jacks', 'PIT Inspections', 'PIT Parking and Fueling', 'PIT Training Requirements', 'Specialized Equipment', 'Forklifts and Powered Trucks', 'Classes of PITs', 'Safe Operation of PITs']
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