OSHA Regulations for Powered Industrial Trucks – Part IV – Unattended Vehicles, Maintenance, and Fueling Procedures

In Part One of my series on OSHA Regulations Concerning Industrial Trucks, I discussed responsibilities warehouse executives have in assuring safe forklift operation.

In Part Two, I discussed what OSHA expected warehouses to do concerning the training of forklift operators.

In Part Three, I covered OSHA requirements concerning pre use inspections and operation of a forklift.

In this article, Part Four of the series, I will cover what OSHA requires concerning unattended vehicles and maintenance and fueling procedures.

Operator performing maintenance on a forklift. (Courtesy: U.S. Air Force at flickr.com)
Operator performing maintenance on a forklift.
(Courtesy: U.S. Air Force at flickr.com)

OSHA defines a forklift as unattended when the operator is 25-feet or more away, but still in view of the vehicle or when the operator leaves the vehicle and is not in view of it.

OSHA requires the operator to perform these actions prior to leaving the forklift:

·      Turn off the engine.
·      Remove and secure the key.
·      Fully lower the forks
·      Put the vehicle in neutral or park.
·      Set the parking brake.
·      If a propane fueled truck, turn off the propane cylinder valve.

OSHA requires the following procedures whenever the operator is performing maintenance on a lift:

·      Remove unsafe trucks from operation so they can be serviced.
·      Only authorized personnel using lockout and tag out procedures are permitted to repair a forklift.
·      Perform repairs to the fuel and ignition system of a lift in designated locations due to risk of fire.
·      Exchange parts only with equivalent parts specifically designed for that forklift.
·      Do not change the position of parts from where they were when the forklift was originally delivered to the warehouse.
·      Do not add additional counterweight unless explicitly approved by the manufacturer.
·      Disconnect the battery prior to performing repair work on the electrical system of the lift.
·      Remove the forklift from service when the temperature of any part is greater than the normal operating temperature until the overheating is eliminated.
·      Always keep forklifts in a clean condition.
·      Use only glycol-based antifreeze in the engine-cooling system of a forklift.

A forklift operator must follow the following OSHA requirements when fueling a forklift:

·      Operators are required to wear proper personal protection equipment when changing tanks including protective eyewear, gloves, and long sleeve shirt.
·      Shut off the valve to assure that no propane gas is in the line before changing tanks.
·      Shut off the ignition after engine stops.
·      Don’t smoke nor change tanks near a flame or heat source.
·      Be aware that propane is heavier than air and will settle to the floor if there is a leak.
·      Check the condition of valves and seals before connecting a new tank.
·      Propane can cause “freeze” burn if it comes in contact with the skin. So handle tanks carefully.
·      Do not store tanks in areas where leaking propane gas may accumulate.

Gasoline or Diesel
·      Wear the proper protective clothing when fueling.
·      Shut off the engine.
·      Use the proper fuel.
·      Avoid overfilling the tank.
·      Follow proper safety procedures when cleaning fuel spills.
·      Inspect for leaks.
·      Replace the fuel cap.

·      Wear proper protective clothing when charging the battery.
·      Know the location of the nearest flushing station.
·      Shut off the engine.
·      Do not smoke or have a flame in the area in which you will be charging the battery.
·      Do not place battery charging stations within 36-inches of electrical panels.
·      Be sure to set the brake of the forklift before charging the battery.
·      Make sure that the battery is secure before lifting it.
·      Stand clear when moving the battery.
·      Make certain that the ventilation system is working properly before charging a battery.
·      Always add battery acid to water; never add water to battery acid.
·      Uncover the battery compartment while charging the battery to prevent the build up of heat and hydrogen gas.
·      Make certain that metal objects do not touch the battery terminals.
·      Make sure that the charger is off when connecting it to the battery.
·      Make sure vent caps are clear.
·      Never plug the battery charger into the truck.
·      The warehouse must provide a conveyor, overhead hoist or other such equipment to assist forklift operators to handle batteries.
·      The warehouse must also provide a tilter or siphon for handling electrolyte.

(Next time: Recordkeeping)