When a Forklift Is Not a Forklift
Each year, more than 7,000 nonfatal occupational injuries that require days away from work are attributed to powered industrial trucks like forklifts and other machines we'll cover below.
To protect workers from the hazards of powered industrial trucks, OSHA has safety standards for their safe operation and maintenance.
Types of Powered Industrial Trucks Covered Under OSHA's Forklift Standard
First off, the OSHA standard applies to all Powered Industrial Trucks (PITs), not just forklifts. A PIT is a "mobile, power propelled truck used to carry, push, pull, lift, stack, or tier material. [ANSI/ASME B56.1 63 FR 66241]
OSHA's definition of "powered industrial-truck" includes vehicles:
- Controlled by a riding operator, or
- Remotely controlled, or
- Controlled by an operator standing alongside.
Powered pallet jacks
Shopping cart caddies
and other similar machinery.
OSHA's Powered Industrial Truck Standard [29 CFR 1910.178]
Now that we've seen some of the different machinery covered under OSHA's 29 CFR 1910.178 PIT Standard, let's take a look at the specific safety requirements.
The 29 CFR 1910.178 Standard requires employers to:
- Pick the right kind of PIT for the work environment,
- Properly maintain the PIT,
- Institute appropriate traffic control measures, and
- Train employees on the proper use of the PIT.
- Undergo training on a regular basis,
- Follow the manufacturers/industry standard maintenance schedule, and
- Follow site-specific traffic control measures.
To help employers protect workers who operate powered industrial trucks, OSHA maintains an active Safety & Health Topics Page on its website.
Machines That Are Not PITs
Vehicles that are used for earth moving, moving people, or over-the-road hauling are explicitly NOT PITs.
Related OSHA Safety StandardsModern workplaces, especially warehousing, construction, and big box retail, can have lots of different equipment for moving people and things around.
OSHA has workplace safety standards for some of them:
- Vehicle-mounted Elevating and Rotating Work Platforms, (i.e., cherry-pickers): 29 CFR 1910.67
- Mobile Work Platforms: 29 CFR 1910.29
- Scissor Lifts: Scissor lifts are primarily regulated under OSHA's construction safety standards at 29 CFR 1926.
Whenever a particular standard doesn't apply, there's always the General Duty Clause.
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