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Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents
• Standard Number: 1910.178; 1910.178(q)(7); 1910.178(q)(6); 1910.178(l)(1); 1910.178(l)(3)

This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any situation not delineated within the original correspondence.

July 28, 2004

Mr. Rick Noffsinger
400 Aviation Plaza, Suite C
Hot Springs, Arkansas 71913

Dear Mr. Noffsinger:

Thank you for your January 22 letter to the United States Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Your letter has been referred to the Directorate of Enforcement Programs' (DEP's) Office of General Industry Enforcement for an answer to your questions regarding powered industrial trucks. Your questions have been restated below for clarity.

Question 1: Is it a requirement that we checkout each forklift with a checklist at the beginning of the workday or is it a requirement for every driver throughout the day to check out the lift each time he gets one?

Reply: 29 CFR 1910.178(q)(7) has a requirement that all powered industrial trucks (PITs) be examined before being placed in service. This examination is required daily or after each shift if the trucks are used on a round-the-clock basis. Although there is no specific OSHA requirement that a checklist be used, an employer does have the responsibility to determine that PITs are properly inspected.

Question 2: Is it a requirement that each forklift driver pass a written test, or can this test be given verbally to those that have trouble taking tests?

Reply: 29 CFR 1910.178(l)(1)(i) requires that each PIT operator is competent to operate a powered industrial truck safely, as demonstrated by the successful completion of the training and evaluation specified in the operator training standard. OSHA has retained a performance-oriented approach that allows the employer to determine that the employee has successfully completed the training, including the classroom and practical training/demonstration elements.

For the classroom training element, the employer may demonstrate the employee's successful completion by a written or oral test or other appropriate means, such as an evaluation by the instructor. The successful completion of the practical training requires the trainee to perform all required operations safely.

Question 3: The majority of our drivers perform a limited number of forklift driving tasks on a daily basis while others perform a greater variety of tasks, such as the loading and unloading of trucks. Can the two groups of drivers be tested differently based on the tasks each performs?

Reply: No. The standard does not distinguish between different levels of evaluating the employees' training on the same type of truck used at the same workplace, regardless of different task complexities. 29 CFR 1910.178(l)(3) requires that powered industrial truck operators receive initial training in truck- and workplace-related topics and the requirements of the powered industrial truck section (i.e., 29 CFR 1910.178), except in topics that the employer can demonstrate are not applicable to the safe operation of the truck at the employer's workplace.

Scenario: We have flat concrete surfaces indoors. Very little lifting overhead is done except for when we use the lift for maintenance purposes. Our speed limit is not to exceed walking speed.

Question 4: Is it a requirement that our employees put on their seat belt every time they get on the forklift?

Reply: Yes. OSHA's current enforcement policy on the use of seat belts on PITs is that employers must require operators of PITs equipped with operator restraint devices, including seat belts, to use the devices. Please note that 29 CFR 1910.178(q)(6) prohibits employers from removing seat belts from powered industrial trucks.

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards, and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Office of General Industry Enforcement at (202) 693-1850.


Richard E. Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs

Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents

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