Powered Industrial Truck Safety: How to Avoid One of OSHA’s Top Violations

| EOH, Featured News, OSHA, USF Safety Florida

What are powered industrial trucks? Powered industrial trucks, 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. Over-the-road haulage trucks and earth-moving equipment that has been modified to accept forks are not considered powered industrial trucks.

Powered Industrial Truck (P.I.T.) (29 CFR 1910.178). The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced the preliminary Top 10 most frequently cited workplace safety violations for fiscal year 2018. P.I.T. violations ranked number seven (7) out of ten (10) on OSHA Top 10 Violations List for 2018 with 2,229 violations. While conducting On-Site Consultation I have seen on many instances where employers failed to comply with the standard and just do not know how it applies to them in their respective industry.

1910.178 top 5 standards OSHA cited for 2018:

1910.178(l)(1)(i) The employer shall ensure that each powered industrial truck operator is competent to operate a powered industrial truck safely, as demonstrated by the successful completion of the training and evaluation specified in this paragraph (l).

1910.178(l)(4)(iii) An evaluation of each powered industrial truck operator’s performance shall be conducted at least once every three years.

1910.178(l)(6) Certification. The employer shall certify that each operator has been trained and evaluated as required by this paragraph (l). The certification shall include the name of the operator, the date of the training, the date of the evaluation, and the identity of the person(s) performing the training or evaluation.

1910.178(p)(1) 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.

1910.178(l)(1)(ii) Prior to permitting an employee to operate a powered industrial truck (except for training purposes), the employer shall ensure that each operator has successfully completed the training required by this paragraph (l), except as permitted by paragraph (l)(5).

Employers are responsible to ensure employees that operate P.I.T. must be initially trained, certified and reevaluated every three years. Safety violations include improper vehicle use, lack of training and failing to re-certify operators every three years. P.I.T. when used properly, can help workers accomplish tasks more efficiently and safely, but when unsafely operated, potentially catastrophic incidents can outweigh their benefits.

Few workplace machines are as useful as the P.I.T. or as dangerous. Employees are killed, and injured, each year in P.I.T. related accidents. Here are the materials you need to legally train your employees in safe forklift operation, and to keep current with the latest developments in forklift and industrial truck safety.

Prevent deadly powered industrial truck tip over accidents by ensuring operators are properly trained to recognize hazardous situations and circumstances.

Train for Safety

To meet OSHA requirements and avoid citations and penalties, operators need to be well trained. OSHA’s standard has specific requirements for operator training that require a combination of formal training with practical instruction, as well as an evaluation and certification process.

There are numerous hazards associated with P.I.T operations. Do your operators know about these six (6) commons P.I.T. hazards and how to avoid them? If not, they are at risk for powered industrial truck accidents, which can result in injuries, damage, or even death.

1. Inadequately Secured Loads

A load that is not secured can shift, tipping the lift. Workers must know:

  • Not to move the powered industrial truck until the load is secure. The load-engaging device must be placed in a manner that securely holds or supports the load.
  • Not to tilt the load-engaging means forward while the forks are elevated, unless they are picking up a load. An elevated load also must not be tilted forward unless it’s being deposited.
  • How to use attachments. If the powered industrial truck is equipped with attachments, special precautions may be required for securing loads and for operating the powered industrial truck after the load has been removed.

2. Overloaded Powered Industrial Trucks

  • Loading a powered industrial truck beyond its rated capacity can cause the lift to tip. Make sure workers never exceed the powered industrial truck’s rated capacity. The rated capacity of all powered industrial trucks must be prominently displayed on the vehicle at all times, in a location where the operator can easily see it.
  • Besides observing the powered industrial truck’s rated capacity, operators should heed the rated capacity of the work surface (floor, ramp, dockplate, or other operating surface).

3. Poorly Selected Powered Industrial Trucks

  • Using the wrong powered industrial truck for the terrain can cause a lift to tip. Make sure workers know not to use a powered industrial truck designed for use on smooth concrete in areas with rough terrain.

4. Traveling or Parking on a Grade

A powered industrial truck is more likely to tip on a grade than on a flat surface. Make sure workers know that:

  • On grades greater than 10 percent, loaded powered industrial trucks must be driven with the load upgrade, except for motorized hand and hand/rider trucks, which should be operated on all grades with the load downgrade.
  • On all grades, they should raise the load only as far as necessary to clear the road surface and should tilt the load-engaging means back if possible.
  • They should avoid turning on a grade.

5.  Work Environment

Some powered industrial truck hazards are caused by the conditions present in the environment where the powered industrial truck is operating. For example:

  • Using a combustible fuel-operated forklift in a poorly ventilated area, which could allow the buildup of carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide from the forklift
  • Operating in an environment with ramps, which can increase the chance of a powered industrial truck accident
  • Crossing railroad tracks, which can unbalance a forklift
  • Operating and braking on slippery floors
  • Operating on dirt and gravel
  • Poor lighting

6.  Pedestrians

The most obvious causes of accidents involving pedestrians include:

  • Having an obstructed view—the operator cannot see the pedestrian because of a load or an obstruction in the path
  • Turning the forklift toward a pedestrian who is in front of or alongside the forklift
  • Speeding, so that the forklift can’t stop in time to avoid the pedestrian
  • Being unaware of pedestrians in the area
  • Carrying passengers on the forklift

Powered industrial truck operators need to understand all the potential hazards to perform their jobs in a safe and appropriate manner and prevent accidents and injuries to themselves or other workers.

Before you begin to assess the risks and identify the potential hazards, you must first evaluate your level of expertise. If you are not comfortable with this, it’s perfectly fine to look for a third party safety consultant or industrial hygienist. Here at the USF Safety Consultation Program https://health.usf.edu/publichealth/cohpe/usfsafetyflorida, we provide both of these services confidentially and for free. Please click on the following link and submit your request https://www.tfaforms.com/4696809