OSHA Regulations Pertaining to Powered Industrial Trucks – Part II – Training

In Part I of my series describing OSHA’s regulation 1910.178 on Powered Industrial Trucks, I covered the responsibilities of the warehouse manager, program administrator, supervisors, and employees pertaining to the safe use of powered industrial trucks.

In this article, Part II of the series, I will discuss what OSHA expects warehouses to do concerning training a forklift operator.

Training a forklift operator is one of the most essential responsibilities of a warehouse. Proper training assures better productivity and a more efficient and safe operation.

OSHA requires that a warehouse offer a training program for new or potential forklift operators. It also requires that the training include formal instruction and hands-on activity as well as a demonstration by the trainee that he has learned the skills necessary for operating a powered industrial truck safely. The trainee is not permitted to operate a forklift without continual supervision until he has been certified. Certification serves as proof that he has been trained and evaluated. Certification must include the name of the operator, the date of the training, the date of the evaluation, and the name of the individual who did the training and evaluation.

OSHA requires that during the training process, the forklift operator trainee operate a vehicle only under the direct supervision of a person who has the knowledge, training and experience to evaluate competence and when such operation does not endanger the trainee or other warehouse employees.

Annual retraining is not required. However, a warehouse must evaluate a driver’s performance at least every three years and provide refresher training if appropriate.

Refresher training must be performed when:

·      The operator was seen operating a forklift in an unsafe manner.
·      The operator was involved in an accident or near miss.
·      The operator receives an evaluation that he has not been operating the vehicle safely.
·      The operator is assigned to drive a different type of vehicle.
·      A condition in the workplace changes that could affect the safe operation of a vehicle.

Training Program Content

OSHA requires that the training include information on the characteristics of the forklift the employee will be operating as well as the condition of the environment in which the vehicle is operated.

The training session should cover characteristics of the vehicle the employee will be operating including:

·      Operating instructions, warnings, and precautions
·      Differences between an automobile and the powered industrial vehicle
·      Location and function of the controls and instrumentation
·      Engine or motor operation
·      Steering and maneuvering
·      Visibility
·      Operation and limitation of the forks and other attachments
·      Vehicle capacity and stability.
·      Vehicle inspection and maintenance procedures
·      Refueling or charging/recharging batteries
·      Operating limitations
·      Safety equipment
·      Any other operating instructions, warning, or precautions described in the operator’s manual.

The operating environment covered should include:

·      Floor surfaces and ground conditions on which the vehicle is operated
·      Composition of probable loads and load stability
·      Load lifting, stacking, and unstacking
·      Traveling with a load
·      Pedestrian traffic
·      Narrow aisle and restricted space operation
·      Operating in hazardous locations
·      Operating the vehicles on ramps or other sloped surfaces that would affect stability
·      Operating the vehicle when driving into a trailer including the proper use of dock plates and ramps, trailer safety and choking/blocking the trailer wheels
·      Other unique or potentially hazardous environmental conditions that exist or may exist in the workplace
·      Operating the vehicle in closed environments and other areas where insufficient ventilation and/or poor vehicle maintenance could cause a buildup of carbon monoxide or diesel exhaust

(Next time: Pre-use inspections and operating procedures)