- Safety and Health Topics
- Powered Industrial Trucks - Forklifts
Powered Industrial Trucks - Forklifts
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.
What are the hazards associated with operating powered industrial trucks?
There are many types of powered industrial trucks. Each type presents different operating hazards. For example, a sit-down, counterbalanced high-lift rider truck is more likely than a motorized hand truck to be involved in a falling load accident because the sit-down rider truck can lift a load much higher than a hand truck. Workplace type and conditions are also factors in hazards commonly associated with powered industrial trucks. For example, retail establishments often face greater challenges than other worksites in maintaining pedestrian safety. Beyond that, many workers can also be injured when (1) lift trucks are inadvertently driven off loading docks; (2) lifts fall between docks and an unsecured trailer; (3) they are struck by a lift truck; or (4) they fall while on elevated pallets and tines.
It is a violation of Federal law for anyone UNDER 18 years of age to operate a forklift or for anyone OVER 18 years of age who is not properly trained and certified to do so. Download the Sticker.
What can be done to reduce the hazards related to powered industrial trucks?
Determining the best way to protect workers from injury largely depends on the type of truck operated and the worksite where it is being used. Employers must 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 29 CFR 1910.178(l)(1).
Powered industrial trucks are addressed in specific OSHA standards for General Industry, Marine Terminals, Longshoring and Construction.
Hazards and Solutions
Provides references that may aid in recognizing hazards associated with powered industrial trucks and provides examples of possible solutions.
Provides links and references to additional resources related to powered industrial trucks.
Workers have the right to:
- Working conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm.
- Receive information and training (in a language and vocabulary the worker understands) about workplace hazards, methods to prevent them, and the OSHA standards that apply to their workplace.
- Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses.
- File a complaint asking OSHA to inspect their workplace if they believe there is a serious hazard or that their employer is not following OSHA's rules. OSHA will keep all identities confidential.
- Exercise their rights under the law without retaliation, including reporting an injury or raising health and safety concerns with their employer or OSHA. If a worker has been retaliated against for using their rights, they must file a complaint with OSHA as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days.
For additional information, see OSHA's Workers page.
How to Contact OSHA
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov or call OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), TTY 1-877-889-5627.
- Safe Forklift Operation. OSHA QuickCard™ (Publication 3949), (June 2018).
- Sample Daily Checklists for Powered Industrial Trucks. Prepared by OSHA and the Industrial Trucking Association (ITA) Alliance. OSHA notes that this checklist and related graphics were developed in cooperation with the ITA as part of the OSHA-ITA Alliance.
- Sample Daily Checklists for Powered Industrial Trucks. Prepared by the UAW-Ford National Joint Committee on Health and Safety. OSHA thanks the UAW-Ford National Joint Committee on Health and Safety for granting permission to use the checklists and related graphics.
- Protecting Young Workers: Prohibition Against Young Workers Operating Forklifts. OSHA Safety and Health Information Bulletin (SHIB), (September 30, 2003). Informs employers that youth employment regulations (29 CFR 570) promulgated under the Fair Labor Standards Act prohibit most employees under the age of 18 years from operating forklifts for non-agricultural operations and reminds employers that all forklift operators must be trained and certified.