Forklift Safety Practices

Purpose

This section is provided as guidance for University managers, supervisors and other employees who use forklifts as a part of their workplace operations.

Requirements

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a final rule (effective March 1, 1999) to clarify training requirements to the Powered Industrial Truck regulation (29CFR1910.178). The revised regulations require a combination of classroom training, demonstrations (practical exercises) and a successful evaluation of the operator skills prior to operating a powered truck. Operator training must be completed every three years. In addition, refresher training is required if an operator has driven an industrial truck in an unsafe manner, been involved in a near-miss or accident, has received an unsatisfactory evaluation, or if the truck or workplace conditions change. Department supervisors and/or area managers must certify each operator has been trained and evaluated. Training certification must include the name of the trainee, the trainer, and the dates of training and evaluation. Forklift operators hired before December 1, 1999 must receive initial training and evaluation prior to the effective date. Employees hired after December 1, 1999 must have training prior to operating a fork-lift truck. In addition, all employees operating a forklift truck must be trained and authorized to use the specific class of forklift truck to be used in his/her area. Federal laws prohibits workers under age 18 from using forklifts and similar equipment in nonagricultural industries.

OSHA requires that industrial trucks be examined before being placed in service. Forklift trucks must not be placed in service if the examination shows any condition adversely affecting the safety of the vehicle. Such examination shall be made at least daily. When industrial trucks are used around the clock, they shall be examined after each shift. When defects are found, employees need to report such conditions to their supervisor immediately. Defects must be corrected prior to returning the forklift into service.

Safe Operating Practices
  • Do not operate a forklift unless you have been trained and licensed
  • Use seatbelts if they are available. If not installed, retrofit old sit-down type forklifts with an operator restraint system if possible.
  • Report to your supervisor any damage or problems that occur to a forklift during your shift.
  • Do not jump from an overturning, sit-down type forklift. Stay with the truck, holding on firmly and leaning in the opposite direction of the overturn.
  • Exit from a stand-up type forklift with rear-entry access by stepping backward if a lateral tipover occurs.
  • Operators should avoid turning, if possible, and should use extreme caution on grades, ramps, or inclines. Normally the operator should travel straight up and down Do not attempt to turn around on grades or ramps. Keep loads elevated and upslope, not pointed downslope.
  • On grades, tilt the load back and raise it only as far as needed to clear the road surface.
  • Do not raise or lower the forks while the forklift is moving.
  • Do not handle loads that are heavier than the weight capacity of the forklift
  • Operate the forklift at a speed that will permit it to be stopped safely.
  • Slow down and sound the horn at cross aisles and other locations where vision is obstructed. Make every effort to alert workers when a forklift is nearby. Use horns, audible backup alarms, and flashing lights to warn workers and other forklift operators in the area. Flashing lights are especially important in areas where the ambient noise level is high.
  • Look toward the travel path and keep a clear view of it.
  • Do not allow passengers to ride on forklift trucks unless a seat is provided.
  • When dismounting from a forklift, set the parking brake, lower the forks or lifting carriage, and neutralize the controls.
  • Do not drive up to anyone standing in front of a bench or other fixed object
  • Do not use a forklift to elevate workers who are standing on the forks.
  • Elevate a worker on a platform only when the vehicle is directly below the work area
  • Whenever a truck is used to elevate personnel, ensure that operators use only an approved lifting cage and adhere to general safety practices for elevating personnel with a forklift. Also, secure the platform to the lifting carriage or forks.
  • Use a restraining means such as rails, chains, or a body belt with a lanyard or deceleration device for the worker(s) on the platform.
  • Provide means for personnel on the platform to shut off power to the truck whenever the truck is equipped with vertical only or vertical and horizontal controls for lifting personnel.
  • Do not drive to another location with the work platform elevated.
  • Brakes, steering mechanisms, control mechanisms, warning devices, lights, governors, lift overload devices, guards and safety devices, lift and tilt mechanisms, articulating axle stops, and frame members shall be carefully and regularly inspected and maintained in a safe condition.
Additional Safety Practices
  • When work is being performed from an elevated platform, a restraining means such as rails, chains, etc., shall be in place, or a body belt with lanyard or deceleration device shall be worn by the person(s) on the platform.
  • Operators should follow operator's manuals, which are supplied by all equipment manufacturers and describe the safe operation and maintenance of forklifts.
  • Operators should be trained to handle asymmetrical loads when their work includes this activity.
  • Separate forklift traffic and other workers where possible.
  • Limit some aisles to workers on foot only or forklifts only.
  • Restrict the use of forklifts near time clocks, break rooms, cafeterias, and main exits, particularly when the flow of workers on foot is at a peak (such as at the end of a shift or during breaks).
  • Install physical barriers where practical to ensure that workstations are isolated from aisles traveled by forklifts. Do not store bins, racks, or other materials at corners, intersections, or other locations that obstruct the view of forklift operators.
  • Evaluate intersections and other blind corners to determine whether overhead dome mirrors could improve the visibility of forklift operators or workers on foot. The person who conducts the inspections should have the authority to implement prompt corrective measures.
  • Enforce safe driving practices such as obeying speed limits, stopping at stop signs, and slowing down and blowing the horn at intersections.
  • Repair and maintain cracks, crumbling edges, and other defects on loading docks, aisles, and other operating surfaces.

If you have questions concerning this safety notice, contact the Environmental Health Safety & Emergency Managment Department at Extension 4007.

Reviewed 5/24/2021

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Business Affairs Websites

Contact

Office of Environmental Health, Safety and Emergency Management
P.O. Box 32112
Boone, NC, 28608 USA
(828) 262-4008

Business Services Building
1039 State Farm Road
Boone, NC

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