Thursday, December 22, 2011

Who should conduct the forklift operator safety training?

All training and evaluation must be conducted by persons with the necessary knowledge, training, and experience to train powered industrial truck operators and evaluate their competence. An example of a qualified trainer would be a person who, by possession of a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing, or who by extensive knowledge, training, and experience has demonstrated the ability to train and evaluate powered industrial truck operators.

There are many resources available to the employer if he/she chooses not to perform the training himself. Truck manufacturers, local safety and health safety organizations, such as the National Safety Compliance, private consultants with expertise in powered industrial trucks, local trade and vocational schools are some available resources.

Various Internet sites are devoted to forklift safety. Private companies who provide forklift safety training services, including videos and written programs, can be located on various Internet websites. Most videos can be either purchased. One important thing to remember is that simply by showing employees a video or videos on some aspect of forklift safety does not meet the full requirements of the OSHA standard. Site specific information must be conveyed as well as a method to evaluate the employee's acquired knowledge subsequent to the training.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Training requirements 1910.178(I) applicable to skid-steer loaders. Explain "experience" as it pertains to 1926.20(b)(4)

Question (1): Are the training requirements in §1910.178(l) applicable to skid-steer loaders used for earthmoving in construction? If not, what training requirements apply?

Answer: Title 29 CFR 1926.602(d) states:
Powered industrial truck operator training. NOTE: The requirements applicable to construction work under this paragraph are identical to those set forth at §1910.178(l) of this chapter.
Under §1926.602(d), employees engaged in construction who use equipment covered by 29 CFR Part 1926 Subpart O and the Powered Industrial Truck Standard (29 CFR 1910.178) must be trained in accordance with the requirements in §1910.178(l). However, §1910.178(a) states that the Powered Industrial Truck Standard does not apply "to vehicles intended primarily for earth moving...." Since skid-steer loaders are "intended primarily for earth moving," the training requirements in §1910.178(l) do not apply.

However, 29 CFR 1926.21(b)(2) states:
The employer shall instruct each employee in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions and the regulations applicable to his [or her] work environment to control or eliminate any hazards or other exposure to illness or injury.
Therefore, under §1926.21(b)(2), the employer is required to train the skid steer operators so that they can recognize and avoid unsafe conditions. As a practical matter, such training needs to be comprehensive enough to ensure that the operator is fully capable of safely handling the equipment in the type of conditions he/she will encounter at the site. The amount of training necessary to fulfill the requirement may be reduced based on the extent to which the operator has acquired the necessary knowledge and skill from prior experience (see the answer to Question 2, below).

Question (2): Section 1926.20(b)(4) provides that only those who are qualified through training or "experience" are allowed to operate equipment. In this context, what does "experienced" mean? If a worker has operated the equipment a number of times in the past, does that automatically mean they are "experienced" for purposes of this requirement?

Answer: No. Title 29 CFR 1926.20(b)(4) states:
The employer shall permit only those employees qualified by training or experience to operate equipment or machinery. [Emphasis added.]
The term "experience" in this provision is used in conjunction with the term "qualified." Where an operator, through prior experience, has acquired the knowledge and skill necessary to safely operate the equipment, the operator may be considered "qualified by...experience" for purposes of this provision. However, a history of having operated the equipment by itself does not necessarily mean that the operator knows how to safely and competently operate the equipment. The provision requires the operator to be "qualified." If the worker has operated the machinery in the past but has not acquired the knowledge and skills necessary to safely operate the equipment, the experience is not sufficient to make the employee "qualified."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fall Protection on an elevated platform: body belts or harnesses?

Question 1: In regards to the use of fall arrest equipment and the use of body belts, do OSHA regulations require that a body belt be attached to a lanyard and used to protect personnel against falls from elevated "operator-up" high lift truck platforms, or do the standards state that a 5-point harness must be worn as a part of a fall arrest device?

Response: OSHA's powered industrial trucks (PITs) standard, contained in 29 CFR 1910.178, does not have provisions that require either the use of a body harness or safety belt to protect personnel against falls from elevated platforms. However, in the absence of a specific standard, OSHA can enforce Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) -- which requires employers to protect employees from serious recognized hazards. Industry consensus standards, such as ASME B56.1-2000 Safety Standard for Low Lift and High Lift Trucks would be taken into consideration by OSHA when determining whether a hazard is "recognized" and that there is a feasible means of abating such a hazard. Section 4.17.2(c) of ASME 56.1-2000 requires that whenever an operator-up high lift truck is used to elevate personnel, restraining means such as railings, chains, cable, body belt(s) with lanyard(s), or deceleration devices, etc. are in place and properly used. Although the ASME standard calls for the use of body belts, OSHA strongly encourages employers to use body harnesses in place of body belts. You should also be aware that, as part of a rulemaking to revise Subpart D of 29 CFR 1910, OSHA has proposed the inclusion of a fall protection requirement that would apply to work platforms used in conjunction with powered industrial trucks. See the No. 68 Federal Register 23528 (May 2, 2003). A copy of the relevant portion this Federal Register is enclosed.

Question 2: Can OSHA give me information on fines and the circumstances surrounding the fines, if a plant is found to be violating the fall arrest guidelines set forth by OSHA?

Response: During the course of an inspection, if an employer is found to expose his or her employees to fall hazards which could result in serious injuries, citations would be issued along with proposed penalties. The amount of proposed penalties varies, depending on the type of violation: Willful, Serious, Other-Than-Serious, Failure-to-Abate, and Repeat; and on the employer's size, good faith, previous history of violations, and the gravity of the violation. For example, OSHA may propose a penalty of up to $7,000 for each serious violation, whereas penalties for each willful violation may range from $5,000 to $70,000. Our penalty calculation procedures also give consideration for any employer with 250 or fewer employees. Normally, a reduction of 60 percent may be applied to penalties if the employer has 25 employees or fewer; 40 percent if the employer has 26-100 employees; and 20 percent if the employer has 101-250 employees. Although no reduction for size is applied if an employer has more than 250 employees, the employer may still be accorded up to a 10 percent reduction for a lack of previous violations, and a 25 percent reduction for "good faith," which mainly depends upon the effectiveness of the employer's safety and health program. When these three factors are combined, it is possible for the smallest employers to receive up to a 95 percent reduction in the initial monetary penalty. The enclosed OSHA 3000 publication, entitled "Employer Rights and Responsibilities Following an OSHA Inspection," which has additional details on the types of violations and associated penalties, may assist you in understanding our penalty structure associated with different types of violations for which citations are issued.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Forklift Regulation 1910.178 "in need of repair," "defective," and "unsafe."

Issue: The language of 29 CFR 1910.178(p)(1), requiring that "[i]f at any time a powered industrial truck is found to be in need of repair, defective, or in any way unsafe, the truck shall be taken out of service until it has been restored to safe operating condition," and 1910.178(q)(1), requiring that "[a]ny power-operated industrial truck not in safe operating condition shall be removed from service" are seemingly inconsistent.

Question 1: Can OSHA provide specific definitions of "in need of repair" and "defective?"

Reply: It is first necessary to note that 1910.178(p) addresses the operation of a powered industrial truck, while 1910.178(q) addresses maintenance of industrial trucks, accounting for the difference in language between the two standards. While the former focuses on conditions under which a vehicle cannot be safely operated, the latter addresses when maintenance should be performed and by whom ("authorized personnel").

Neither 29 CFR 1910.178, its source standard ANSI B56.1-1969, nor the current ASME B56.1-2000 defines any of the words for which you request clarification. However, in determining whether a truck is " . . . in need of repair, defective, or in any way unsafe," OSHA would take a variety of factors into consideration. These factors include, but are not limited to, the condition of the truck itself, the manufacturer's limitations on the truck, and other safety issues, such as those considerations found in consensus standards like ANSI B56.1. While specific definitions of these words are not available, in this context OSHA will consider the totality of the circumstances surrounding a powered industrial truck in determining whether it is "in need of repair" or "defective."

Question 2: What does OSHA mean when the word "unsafe" is used in the standard, and can OSHA provide examples of an unsafe condition on a powered industrial truck?

Reply: "Unsafe," as used in 1910.178(p)(1), carries the general connotation of presenting a harm or risk. As stated above, OSHA will consider a number of factors in determining whether a powered industrial truck is unsafe. For example, all gauges must be functioning properly for the truck to be considered safe. Should a gauge not be functioning properly, that truck will usually be considered defective and in need of repair, thereby making the truck unsafe. Broken welds, missing bolts, or damage to the overhead guard would indicate that a truck is unsafe. Tires that are missing large pieces of rubber would present a risk to the truck operator, thereby making the truck unsafe. Such conditions must be repaired and corrected before the truck is placed back in service. It must be noted, however, that these are simply examples of unsafe conditions on a powered industrial truck; this list is not inclusive and there are certainly other conditions that would render a truck unsafe.

Forklift Operator Safety Training (29 CFR 1910.178 Compliance)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Washington state holds competition to promote safe forklift operation

Every year the Governor’s Industrial Safety and Health Conference offers two days of training and education, providing the latest tools, technologies and strategies for workplace safety and health. Alternating between the eastern and western side of the state, each year it attracts approximately 1,000 safety and health attendees. More than 300 volunteers, representing the diversity of industrial Washington contribute to its success year after year!

Washington state will also hold its annual forklift rodeo at the 60th Annual Governor's Industrial Safety and Health Conference September 28-29. Fifteen professional forklift drivers will compete in this statewide event meant to encourage safety among forklift operators and raise awareness of the hazards associated with forklift use. The rodeo includes a written exam, pre-drive inspection and a skills demonstration on an obstacle course. Each year, tens of thousands of injuries related to forklifts, also known as powered industrial trucks (PITs), occur in U.S. workplaces.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Forklift Modifications / Elevated Platforms

Question: Does OSHA require an employer to obtain prior written approval from the forklift original equipment manufacturer for the attachment of a work platform or other modification to the forklift?

Reply: Yes, written approval from the manufacturer of a powered industrial truck(forklift) is required for modifications and/or additions if the modifications and/or additions affect the capacity and safe operation of the truck. However, please be aware that OSHA would consider the lack of manufacturer's approval to be a "de minimis"(minor, no penalty) violation if the employer has obtained written approval from a qualified Registered Professional Engineer after receiving no response or a negative response from the powered industrial truck manufacturer. If the manufacturer's response was negative, then the engineer, prior to granting approval for the modification or addition, would need to perform a safety analysis and address all safety and/or structural issues contained in the manufacturer's disapproval.

Even where the addition of a work platform to a powered industrial truck is permitted under §1910.178(a)(4) or the "de minimis" policy stated above, employers must also address the fall hazards that result from the use of elevated platforms. OSHA has proposed revisions to Subpart D of 29 CFR Part 1910 that include, in a new section §1910.31, requirements for mobile elevating work platforms, mobile ladder stands, and powered industrial truck platforms. (See 55 FR 13396, April 10, 1990, and 68 FR 23530, May 2, 2003.) Until a final rule is promulgated, an employer's failure to prevent or correct, to the extent feasible, fall hazards from elevated work platforms might be citable as a violation of Section 5(a)(1) of the OSHAct. OSHA's evaluation of the existence of a serious, recognized hazard and the availability of feasible means of abatement would include consideration of the relevant provisions of the ASME B56.1-2000 standard.

To obtain copies of the OSHA regulations, please visit this link:

OSHA Regulations and Standards

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Forklift Horn Replacement

Question: When a forklift has a weak sounding horn, what determines whether it should be replaced or not?

Reply: OSHA's standard 29 CFR 1910.178(q)(7) requires that industrial trucks be inspected at least daily and not be placed into service if the examination shows any condition that may adversely affect the safety of the industrial truck. Additionally, §1910.178(p)(1) states, "If at any time a powered industrial truck is found to be in need of repair, defective, or in any way unsafe, the truck shall be taken out of service until it has been restored to safe operating condition." If the industrial truck is equipped with a horn as its warning device, then OSHA would consider the truck as being unsafe if the sound level of the horn has deteriorated to a level that can no longer be heard above the ambient noise in the workplace.

In addition, the employer must meet the requirements in §1910.178(q), Maintenance of industrial trucks. Specifically, §1910.178(q)(5) states, "All parts of any such industrial truck requiring replacement shall be replaced only by parts equivalent as to safety with those used in the original design."

The daily inspection of the forklift should be a priority for all employees who operate a forklift. Forklift operators should be trained regarding this inspection using the manufacturer's recommended procedures. National Safety Compliance has also developed a forklift training program that will assist employers with forklift operator training. For more information about this safety training program, please visit the following link:

Forklift Operator Safety Training Program

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Fatal Forklift Accident

Two laborers and a forklift driver were staking 40-foot-long I-beams in preparation for for structural steel erection. One laborer was placing a 2 X 4 inch wooden spacer on the last I-beam on the stack. The forklift driver drove up to the stack with another I-beam that was not secured or blocked on the forklift tines. The I-beam fell from the tines, pining the laborer between the fallen I beam and the stack of beams.

As a result of its investigation, OSHA issued citations for two serious violations of OSHA standards.

The employer must:

  1. Instruct each employee in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions and regulations applicable to the work environment to control or eliminate any hazards. In accordance with OSHA Regulations 29 CFR 1926.21(b)(2).
  2. Ensure that proper personal equipment (employee did not wear a seat belt while operating the fork lift) is worn in all operations where there is exposure to hazardous conditions, in accordance with 29 CFR 1926.28(a)
  3. Ensure that powered industrial trucks(forklifts) have loads that are stable and secure and that persons are not allowed too close to the elevated portions, in accordance with 29 CFR 1926.602(c)(1)(vi).
  4. Ensure that the employer initiates and maintains a safety and health program, in accordance with 29 CFR 1926.20(b)(2)
For more information about forklift operator safety training, please visit this link:
Forklift Operator Safety Training for OSHA Compliance

Saturday, January 15, 2011

OSHA Forklift Retraining

One of the most common questions regarding forklift training is "When do employees need to be retrained?"

OSHA regulations require forklift safety training to be completed before anyone may operate a forklift. Retraining must also be completed at least every 3 years thereafter or as need because of an accident, near miss or a change in workplace conditions or equipment.

It is extremely important that all employees who operate forklift be competent and safely able to operate their specific type of forklift. National Safety Compliance has developed a training program to assist employers with forklift training. For more information, please visit this link:

Forklift Operator Safety Training

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Safe Speed for Forklifts

Here is a question we recently received regarding the safe operations of forklifts:

Question: What does OSHA consider a "safe speed" to be for the operation of a powered industrial truck (forklift)?

Reply: OSHA does not have specific speed limits set for the safe operation of a powered industrial truck(forklift). However, in determining what is a safe speed, OSHA would take a variety of factors into consideration. These factors include, but are not limited to, the type of truck itself, the manufacturer's limitations on the truck, the load being carried, adequate stopping distances, operating surface conditions, pedestrian traffic and other safety issues. While specific speed limits are not available, OSHA would consider the totality of the circumstances surrounding the operation of the powered industrial truck in determining whether safe travel speeds are practiced at a workplace. For additional assistance in determining safe travel speeds, an employer could look to consensus standards such as ASME B56.1-2000 Safety Standard For Low Lift and High Lift Trucks. For example, paragraph 4.3.2 of ASME B56.1 contains a Stopping Distance formula which may be useful in determining approximate theoretical stopping distances where certain variables are known. This information, along with other factors, can then be used to calculate a maximum safe speed.

In any workplace, it is extremely important that all forklift operators are properly trained. Employees should be trained prior to operating a forklift and retraining should occur as specified by the OSHA regulations. National Safety Compliance has developed a Forklift Operator Training program to meet the OSHA requirement for forklift operator training.