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.