On December 1, 1998, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a standard that revised the existing requirements and issued new requirements to improve the training of powered industrial truck operators. The standard became effective on March 1, 1999. The compliance date of the new standard is December 1, 1999.
This new standard is intended to reduce the number of injuries and deaths that occur as a result of inadequate operator training. The powered industrial truck operator training requirements will apply to all industries where trucks are being used, except agricultural operations.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the definition of a powered industrial truck?
Any mobile power-propelled truck used to carry, push, pull, lift, stack or tier materials. Powered industrial trucks can be ridden or controlled by a walking operator. Earth moving and over the road haulage trucks are not included in the definition. Equipment that was designed to move earth but has been modified to accept forks is also not included.Back to top
2. What does the new standard require?
The new standard requires employers to develop and implement a training program based on the general principles of safe truck operation, the types of vehicle(s) being used in the workplace, the hazards of the workplace created by the use of the vehicle(s), and the general safety requirements of the OSHA standard. Trained operators must know how to do the job properly and do it safely as demonstrated by workplace evaluation. Formal (lecture, video, etc.) and practical (demonstration and practical exercises) training must be provided. Employers must also certify that each operator has received the training and evaluate each operator at least once every three years. Prior to operating the truck in the workplace, the employer must evaluate the operator's performance and determine the operator to be competent to operate a powered industrial truck safely. Refresher training is needed whenever an operator demonstrates a deficiency in the safe operation of the truck.Back to top
3. Does OSHA provide a list of topics to include in my training program?
Yes. The standard provides a list of training topics; however, the employer may exclude those topics that are not relevant to safe operation at the employee's work location.Back to top
4. Who should conduct the training?
All training and evaluation must be conducted by persons with the necessary knowledge, training, and experience to train powered industrial truck operators and evaluate their competence. An example of a qualified trainer would be a person who, by possession of a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing, or who by extensive knowledge, training, and experience has demonstrated the ability to train and evaluate powered industrial truck operators. There are many resources available to the employer if he/she chooses not to perform the training himself. Truck manufacturers, local safety and health safety organizations, such as the National Safety Council local chapters, and private consultants with expertise in powered industrial trucks, such as TMH. One important thing to remember is that simply by showing employees a video or videos on some aspect of forklift safety does not meet the full requirements of the OSHA standard. Site-specific information must be conveyed as well as a method to evaluate the employee's acquired knowledge subsequent to the training.Back to top
5. If my employees receive training from an outside consultant, how will I know that these employees have been adequately trained?
Outside-qualified training organizations can provide evidence that the employee has successfully completed the relevant classroom and practical training. However, each employer must ensure that each powered industrial truck operator is competent to operate a truck safely, as demonstrated by the successful completion of the training and evaluation.Back to top
6. My employees receive training from the union on the use of powered industrial trucks. Will I have to provide any additional training?
When a worker reports to work, the employer must evaluate the employee to ensure that he/she is knowledgeable about the operation of the powered industrial trucks he/she will be assigned to operate. This evaluation could be as simple as having a person with the requisite skills, knowledge and experience observe the operator performing several typical operations to ensure that the truck is being operated safely and asking the operator a few questions related to the safe operation of the vehicle. If the operator has operated the same type of equipment before in the same type of environment that he/she will be expected to be working, then duplicative or additional training is not required.Back to top
7. What type of records or documentation must I keep?
The OSHA standard requires that the employer certify that each operator has received the training and has been evaluated. The written certification record must 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.Back to top
8. If my employees receive training, but accidents still continue to occur, what should I do?
Refresher training in relevant topics is necessary when the operator has been involved in an accident or near-miss incident.Back to top
9. Is annual training required?
No. An evaluation of each powered industrial truck operator's performance is required to be conducted after initial training, and at least once every three years.Back to top
10. Will OSHA provide training to my truck operators?
No. It is the employer's responsibility to train the employees.Back to top
11. Will I have to train all employees in my workplace?
Any employee that operates a powered industrial truck must be trained.Back to top
12. I have three different types of trucks in my workplace. Can I provide training on just one type of truck?
If an operator will be expected to operate all three types of vehicles, then training must address the unique characteristics of each type of vehicle the employee is expected to operate. When an attachment is used on the truck to move odd-shaped materials, then the operator training must include instruction on the safe conduct of those operations so that the operator knows and understands the restrictions or limitations created by each vehicle's use.Back to top
13. I only have powered hand trucks in my workplace. Do the training requirements cover the operators of this type of vehicle? The operator walks alongside the unit while holding onto the handle to guide it.
Yes. The use of powered hand trucks present numerous hazards to employees who operate them and those working in the area where they are used.Back to top
14. I employ drivers from a temporary agency. Who will provide them training - the temporary service or me?
OSHA has issued several letters of interpretations on the subject of training of temporary employees. Basically, there is a shared responsibility for assuring employees are adequately trained. The responsibility for providing training should be spelled out in the contractual agreement between the two parties. The temporary agency or the contracting employer may conduct the training and evaluation of operators from a temporary agency as required by the standard; however, the host employer (or other employer who enters into a contract with the temporary agency) must provide site-specific information and training on the use of the particular types of trucks and workplace-related topics that are present in the workplace.Back to top
15. Should my training include the use of operator restraint devices (e.g. seat belts)?
Employers are required to train employees in all operating instructions, warnings, and precautions listed in the operator's manual for the type of vehicle that the employee is being trained to operate. Therefore, operators must be trained in the use of operator restraint systems when it is addressed in the operating instructions.Back to top
16. What does OSHA expect to achieve as a result of improved operator's training?
OSHA's goal is to reduce the number of injuries and illnesses that occur to workers in the workplace from unsafe powered industrial truck usage. By providing an effective training program many other benefits will result. Among these is the lower cost of compensation insurance, less property damage, and less product damage.Back to top
17. Where can I get additional information about OSHA and new standards?
For more information, contact your local or Regional OSHA office (listed in the telephone directory under United States Government - Department of Labor - Occupational Safety and Health Administration) or visit the OSHA website.