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Regulations (Preambles to Final Rules) - Table of Contents
• Record Type: Powered Industrial Truck Operator Training
• Section: 8
• Title: Section 8 - VIII. Summary and Explanation of the Final Standard

VIII. Summary and Explanation of the Final Standard

A. General

In this final rule, OSHA requires that operators of powered industrial trucks be trained in the operation of such vehicles before they are allowed to operate them independently. The training must consist of instruction (both classroom-type and practical training) in proper vehicle operation, the hazards of operating the vehicle in the workplace, and the requirements of the OSHA standard for powered industrial trucks. Operators who have completed training must then be evaluated while they operate the vehicle in the workplace. Operators must also be periodically evaluated (at least once every three years) to ensure that their skills remain at a high level and must receive refresher training whenever there is a demonstrated need for it. The new standard replaces very general training provisions that have had only a modest impact in reducing truck-related accidents, injuries, and fatalities.

To accomplish the goal of improved powered industrial truck operator training, OSHA is revising its existing general industry standard at §1910.178(l), and is adding for shipyards a new §1915.120 with a cross reference to §1910.178 (l). For construction, a new §1926.602(d), with a cross reference to 1910.178(l), has been added. The new §1926.602(d) supplements the current cross-reference to the 1969 ANSI standard, to the extent that the ANSI standard specifies that only trained operators be permitted to operate powered industrial trucks (the same language as was contained at §1910.178(l)). The standards in parts 1917 and 1918 provide safety and health coverage for longshoring and marine terminal employment. The specific standards in these parts are supplemented by a limited number of general industry standards to provide a comprehensive package of standards for each industry. These general industry standards are listed in §§1910.16, 1917.1, and 1918.1. To assure that new paragraph (1) of §1910.178 covers longshoring and marine terminal employees, OSHA is adding it to the list of applicable general industry standards.

In developing this final standard, OSHA has relied on the training requirements in the latest national consensus standard for powered industrial trucks, ASME B56.1-1993, as well as the training requirements from other standards (both industry and government). In this final rule, the language of these standards has been modified, as appropriate, where the consensus standard uses non-enforceable language (such as in paragraphs 4.19.1 and 4.19.2 of the ASME standard), or for other reasons, as discussed below.

B. Scope

The scope of OSHA's existing training provisions for operators of powered industrial trucks for general industry, construction and shipyards is set forth at 29 CFR 1910.178(a)(1). That paragraph states:

This section contains safety requirements relating to fire protection, design, maintenance, and use of fork trucks, tractors, platform lift trucks, motorized hand trucks, and other specialized industrial trucks powered by electric motor or internal combustion engines. This section does not apply to compressed air or nonflammable compressed gas-operated industrial trucks, nor to farm vehicles, nor to vehicles intended primarily for earth moving or over-the-road hauling.

Because §1910.178 adopted the ANSI B56.1-1969 provisions under section 6(a) of the Act, the scope of that standard covering both general industry and shipyards employment is the same as the scope of the ANSI B56.1-1969 standard. The construction standard for powered industrial trucks incorporates ANSI B56.1-1969 by reference and, therefore, also has the same scope as the ANSI standard. The requirement for powered industrial truck use in the marine terminal industry is at §1917.43. Paragraph (a) states:

This section applies to every type of powered industrial truck used for material or equipment handling within a marine terminal. It does not apply to over-the-road vehicles.

The standard that applies to powered industrial truck training in the longshoring industry is codified at §1918.97. That standard does not use the term "powered industrial truck" but provides that any employee driving "any power operated vehicle" shall be competent by reason of training and experience.

In the preamble of the powered industrial truck operator training proposal published on March 14, 1995, OSHA did not propose to revise the scope of the existing rules. However, OSHA solicited comment on whether the scope of the training requirements should be expanded to cover operators of a broader classification of vehicles than is covered by 29 CFR 1910.178(a).

There were eight commenters who generally discussed the scope of these final rules. (See Exs. 7-43, 11-7, 11-9, 11-17, 11-20, 11-31, 11-42, 11-44, Tr. pp. 99, 240.) Most of these commenters suggested limiting the scope to those vehicles covered by the ASME B56.1-1993 standard, which has a narrower scope than the ANSI B56.1-1969 standard because it does not cover certain types of vehicles that have their own specialized ASME volumes. These commenters believed that operators of specialized types of vehicles needed more specialized training.

Additionally, commenters from the marine terminals and longshoring industries pointed out that they have specialized equipment and/or use different names for some of the types of vehicles that are used in other industries. Some vehicles that are unique to the marine cargo handling industry, or are differently named, are: container top handlers; container reach stackers; straddle carriers; semi-tractors/ utility vehicles; sidehandlers; combination vacuum lifts; and yard tractors.

OSHA has considered the comments received on the issue of scope and has decided not to change the scope provisions of §1910.178(a). This means that the final rule's training requirements in paragraph (l) will apply to any truck covered by the specific industry standard. Thus, these training requirements would apply, e.g., to container top handlers in longshoring and marine terminals.

OSHA concludes that the new standard will improve operator training and reduce fatalities and injuries among those vehicle operators covered by §1910.178(a)(1). The accident statistics discussed above indicate that there is a high incidence of job-related deaths and injury for operators of all vehicle types. Therefore, narrowing the scope of the final rule would decrease employee protections and increase the risk confronting operators, and would thus be contrary to the goals of the OSH Act. In response to the commenters who recommended a narrower scope, OSHA notes that the new standard is flexible enough to allow training to be tailored to the special characteristics of the workplace and the vehicles used.

Accordingly, the scope of the final standard is broader than that of the ASME B56.1-1993 standard, which covers only some types of powered industrial trucks. The final OSHA standard covers all the types of powered industrial trucks specified at §1910.178(a)(1), which is equivalent to the broader scope of the ANSI B56.1-1969 standard. Therefore, this final rule applies to the vehicles covered by the following volumes of the consensus standard: Low Lift and High Lift Trucks, ASME B56.1; Guided Industrial Vehicles, ASME B56.5; Rough Terrain Forklift Trucks, ASME B56.6; Industrial Crane Trucks, ASME B56.7; as well as other vehicles that fall within the definition of a powered industrial truck in §1910.178(a).

As discussed above, OSHA's existing operator training requirements for the marine terminal and longshoring industries essentially cover all powered industrial trucks used in those sectors no matter what specialized name they are given. OSHA concludes that it is important to retain this coverage in these sectors, for the same reasons stated above. There are high accident rates for operators of powered industrial trucks in these sectors, and the new training provisions are flexible enough to tailor the training to address the needs of the operators of specialized vehicles.

Therefore, the final rule applies to all powered industrial trucks defined as such in ASME B56.1-1969, as well as to other specialized equipment found in marine cargo handling operations, including but not limited to straddle carriers, hustlers, toploaders, container reach stackers, and other vehicles that carry, push, pull, lift, or tier loads. Training requirements for other material handling equipment, such as container gantry cranes or derricks, will continue to be covered by §§1917.27 and 1918.98.

The final rule does not, however, apply to earth moving equipment or vehicles used for over-the-road hauling. Three commenters suggested that OSHA clarify the scope of these training requirements (Exs. 7-25, 7-37, and 11-2). These commenters stated that the discussion of the scope issue in the proposal's preamble could mislead employers into thinking that earth moving equipment and over-the-road vehicles were included in the scope because these vehicles can lift and move material. OSHA agrees that these vehicles are not powered industrial trucks for the purposes of this rule. Therefore, equipment that was designed to move earth but has been modified to accept forks is not covered by this final rule.

C. Paragraph (l)(1) -- Safe Operation

At paragraph (l)(1), OSHA requires the employer to ensure that each powered industrial truck operator is competent to operate such trucks safely, as demonstrated by the completion of the training and evaluation required by the final rule. The language of this paragraph has been changed from that proposed to emphasize the desired result, i.e., the operator's ability to operate a truck safely.

Twenty one commenters (Exs. 7-3, 7-12, 7-14, 7-25, 7-26, 7-29, 7-34, 7-39, 7-47, 7-58, 7-59, 7-64, 7-65, 7-69, 11-4, 11-9, 11-15, 11-32, 11-35, 11-38, Tr. p. 153) discussed this proposed requirement. Their principal concern was that, although all employees can be considered "potential" truck operators, this paragraph should apply only to those employees who actually are, or are being trained to be, powered industrial truck operators. For example, one commenter (Ex. 7-25) stated:

Section 1910.178(1)(i) -- We recommend the statements * * * "ensure that each potential operator" * * * be changed to * * * "ensure that each candidate for operator qualification" * * * This will avoid any confusion about who needs to be evaluated. Every employee can be considered a potential operator, but only select employees will be candidates for certification as qualified and authorized operators by the employer.

OSHA agrees with these commenters and has revised the language of the final rule to make clear that only powered industrial truck operators and trainees, and not all "potential" operators, as proposed, are covered. However, an employee who has other duties, but sometimes operates a powered industrial truck, is covered by this paragraph.

Paragraph (l)(1)(ii) requires the employer to ensure that before an employee is permitted to operate a powered industrial truck, except for training purposes, the employee has successfully completed the required training, including an evaluation of the efficacy of that training, except as permitted by paragraph (l)(5) of this section. The language of this paragraph has been changed from that of the corresponding proposed paragraph. The requirement that the operator "successfully complete" the training and evaluation required by the new standard has been retained, and the paragraph has been simplified for clarity.

Proposed paragraph (l)(1)(ii) had three elements; however, the final rule focuses only on one major point because the other two are addressed elsewhere in the final rule. In the proposal, the employer was required to have each operator trained, evaluated by a designated person, and determined by that person to be "performing the required duties safely." As now written, the employer must ensure that each operator has successfully completed the required training and evaluation except as permitted by paragraph (l)(5). There are a number of ways the employer can do this. Outside qualified training organizations can provide evidence that the employee has successfully completed the relevant training topics, both classroom and practical. The employer may also have an employee perform the training, which would allow the employer to certify that the employee has successfully completed the training. In the final rule, paragraph (l)(1)(ii) does not stipulate that a designated person conduct the training and evaluation of each operator and make a determination that the operator is performing safely. This is because paragraph (l)(2)(iii) specifically sets out the capabilities of persons performing the training, and paragraph (l)(2)(ii) stipulates that the training is to include both a demonstration and evaluation component ("Training shall consist of a combination of formal instruction * * *, practical training (demonstrations * * * by the trainee), and evaluation of the operator's performance in the workplace."). There is no reason to identify a person with the required capabilities as a "designated" person, as proposed.

During this rulemaking, there was some comment about training resources available to the employer. (See Exs. 7-15, 7-16, 7-27, 7-51, 7-60, 11-1, 11-8, 11-41, 11-46, 28, Tr. pp. 37, 49, 76, 94.) For example, one commenter (Ex. 11-1) stated:

As North America's largest Powered Industrial Truck training organization (established in 1981), we welcome the opportunity to provide input into these long overdue regulations. To date, our organization's mobile equipment training programs have trained over 125,000 operators and 3500 trainers.

It is clear to OSHA from the comments and testimony of training organizations that there are adequate resources if employers choose to hire outside training providers. Additionally, truck manufacturers and dealers can provide information and assistance in developing a training program.

OSHA concludes that an evaluation component must be an integral part of the training process if accidents, injuries, and deaths resulting from unsafe powered industrial truck operation are to be reduced. As discussed above (see especially the discussion of the Jensen and Cohen studies in section IV of this preamble), the training and reinforcement that will be done in part through the formal training, demonstration, and evaluation process is a highly effective way of reducing unsafe practices. The practical exercises, demonstrations, and evaluations required as part of each operator's training also will determine whether the employee can competently perform an operator's duties safely.

Finally, paragraph (l)(1)(ii) does not permit an employee to operate a powered industrial truck without supervision until the required training has been completed (see the exception discussed below in connection with paragraph (l)(2)(i)). This requirement is included in the final rule to minimize driving by untrained operators.

D. Training Program Implementation -- Paragraph (l)(2)

Paragraph (l)(2) permits trainees to receive practical training in truck operation only in areas where it is safe to do so, sets forth the types of training that are to be given to all powered industrial truck operators, and establishes the qualifications of trainers and evaluators. This paragraph has been revised slightly from the corresponding provisions in the proposal.

Paragraph (l)(2)(i) allows trainees to operate powered industrial trucks provided that the operation is under the direct supervision of a person with the requisite knowledge, training, or experience and the training is conducted in areas where there is minimum danger to the trainee and other employees. This is a change from the proposal, which included the further restriction that no other employee be present while practical training is being conducted. OSHA has revised this requirement based on comments that stated that the proposed restriction might not be possible at some businesses. For example, one commenter (Ex. 7-34) stated:

Paragraph (l)(2)(i) requires that trainees, under the supervision of the designated person, be allowed to operate a powered industrial truck "provided the operation of the vehicle is conducted in an area where other employees are not near and the operation of the truck is under controlled conditions." Dow believes that this provision needs to be modified. The requirement that other employees may not be near the training area implies that a segregated area must be established. Not only would this add a significant cost to training (especially for low frequency training and space-limited work areas), but also ignores the fact that without great expense to recreate the work environment, the training then would not reflect real work scenarios. The trainee must learn how to maneuver appropriately around the facility including around obstacles such as other employees, etc. It is more appropriate that those working in or around the training area be made aware of the training activities. Instead of segregating the area, the area should be controlled. The presence of the "designated person" conducting the training can assist in this regard. As a result, Dow recommends that this provision be modified to read,

Trainees under the direct supervision of the designated person may be allowed to operate a vehicle in a controlled area. Employees in the surrounding area should be alerted to the training activities which are occurring in their area.

The above language allows the employer the flexibility to determine how best to comply with this requirement. It allows those employers who have the resources and the inclination to create a segregated area to do so while preserving the flexibility of other employers to select another adequate method.

Another commenter (Ex. 7-71) stated:

While the flexibility provided by allowing trainees to operate a powered industrial truck under direct supervision is appropriate and necessary, the restriction that operation be conducted "in an area where other employees are not near and the operation of the truck is under controlled conditions" [1910.178(l)(2)(i)(sic)] is vague and [potentially] impractical or unreasonable. Because of space limitations and training program requirements, training may need to be conducted in work areas. Since it is stipulated that training be under the direct supervision of a qualified trainer, we believe that additional restriction is unnecessary and perhaps redundant.

OSHA agrees with these commenters, and is making the final provision more flexible than the proposed requirement. The final rule allows practical (hands-on) training in truck operation even if other employees are present, providing that the training is done in a safe manner.

Proposed paragraph (l)(2)(i) included provisions that were duplicative of other proposed provisions. OSHA has removed the duplicative provisions from the final rule. The proposed language stating that employers must "implement training" has been dropped, to eliminate the implication that the employer could not contract out the training to an outside trainer or training organization. However, the employer's responsibility for training remains clearly stated at paragraph (l)(1)(ii) to ensure that employees successfully complete the required training and evaluation, no matter who provides it.

OSHA requires at paragraph (l)(2)(ii) that the training consist of a combination of classroom type instruction, demonstrations by the trainer, practical training, and evaluation of the operator's ability to apply the training in the workplace. The Agency believes that only a combination of training methods will ensure effective employee training. Classroom type training is necessary to teach some of the principles of vehicle operation and provide the basis for practical training. Hands-on (practical) training provides the trainee with the necessary physical skills and enhances the employee's ability to operate a powered industrial truck safely. Demonstrations by the trainer will impart important information to the trainee. In addition, evaluation of the trainee's ability to operate the truck safely in the workplace will ensure that the trainee has successfully transferred the skills learned to the work environment.

No commenters opposed the need for practical training. There was some comment about the need for classroom training, however.

One commenter (Tr. p. 212), in response to a question about whether classroom or practical training was preferable, responded:

We think both are necessary. Number one, we need the reinforcement of the hands-on plus the classroom training, however.

The other issue, there are several issues that need to be covered in a classrooom for them to be understood when they're on the truck. Let me give you one example.

Lift trucks, as you know, are three point suspension. You can have an operator sitting on a lift truck and you try to explain that. But unless he's seen it, he or she has seen it and unless it has been explained to them and illustrated to them, it's very difficult for them to grasp the concept of three point suspension on a four wheel truck. That can be explained in a classroom and then, hopefully, it won't have to be demonstrated because demonstrated would mean a tipped over truck.

But there are certain things that cannot be demonstrated as adequately as they can be shown in graphs, slides and explained and tested in the book and there are certain things that cannot be covered in the operation. But those things that can, it simply reinforced them.

I think most of us, in our education, understand that any reinforcement we can get all the way from demonstration to illustration, in print and in slides or videos is just reinforcement and helps the learning process to take effect much more deeply.

Another commenter (Ex. 7-31) stated:

The proposal requires that training consist of a combination of classroom instruction and practical training. In small workplaces with few employees classroom instruction, per se, may not be practicable. Training needs to include a combination of methods and be flexible enough to work in different work environments and applications. Classroom instruction is but one way that preliminary instruction can be provided as a prelude to practical training exercises. The method of providing face-to-face instruction should be at the instructor's discretion.

We suggest that subparagraph (ii) be modified to read: Training shall consist of a combination of instruction (classroom, lecture, audiovisual aids, and/or conference) and practical training (demonstrations and practical exercises by the trainee).

Several commenters (Exs. 7-31, 7-35, 7-36, 7-47, 7-49, 11-15, Tr. pp. 24, 153) suggested that classroom training was impractical, particularly when a small business employer has one trainee being trained by a supervisor. Both the proposed and final standard make clear that the "classroom" part of the training need not take place in a classroom, but can consist of other methods such as discussions, review of printed material, or viewing of video tapes. Discussions can consist of the trainer talking to the trainee and explaining the training material, either in the workplace or in another location. The Agency's intent was not to limit the flexibility of the employer by requiring that any phase of the training be conducted in a classroom. Rather, the rule requires that the training include an explanatory element as well as a practical element. To make this clearer, the word "classroom" has been changed to the word "formal," and examples of different kinds of formal training have been listed in parentheses.

Some of the topics that OSHA lists at paragraph (l)(3) lend themselves to being taught in a formal way. For example, teaching a trainee about vehicle stability by having the trainee tip over a powered industrial truck does not make sense and is not an effective way to learn about that principle. Stability is best learned initially by having the trainer explain the concept of stability, the causes of instability, and the ways to avoid instability. Practical training then may reinforce how to avoid creating an unsafe condition. On the other hand, telling someone what it is like to drive a powered industrial truck with front wheel drive and rear wheel steering is not sufficient to teach the trainee how to operate the vehicle safely, and considerable practical training is also necessary to teach the necessary skills.

The training also includes an evaluation of the operator's performance in the workplace. This is necessary to determine that the operator can effectively utilize all the training to drive safely in the workplace. This is similar to the requirement that was part of paragraph (l)(2)(ii) of the proposal. There was no opposition to the requirement.

OSHA concludes that powered industrial truck operators need to be trained using a combination of classroom type and practical training. Some elements are better taught using one or the other type of training, and often both methods of training are needed. As one hearing participant (Tr. p. 35) stated:

The first point that I would like to comment on is I believe that initial certification training should include both classroom and operational training. This belief is based on the fact that in many cases what I have seen is without giving the correct instruction prior to individuals getting onto equipment, is they tend to develop some very bad habits quickly. I believe giving them the appropriate information initially and then reinforcing that while on the truck is the most effective way to train that. I also believe that with the initial certification, both evaluation of the classroom and the operational performance should be required. Again, this is to identify that they do have the correct knowledge of the equipment and that they have the skills to operate the equipment effectively.

At paragraph (l)(2)(iii), OSHA requires that all training and evaluation required by this standard be conducted by persons with the requisite knowledge, training, or experience to train operators. As discussed elsewhere in this preamble, the employer may have the necessary prerequisites to qualify as a trainer and evaluator, or he or she may assign the responsibility for training and evaluation to one or more employees or an outside trainer and evaluator having those prerequisites. There were several comments on this provision.

One commenter (Ex. 7-34) stated:

Paragraph (l)(2)(iii) provides that training and evaluations must be conducted by a "designated person." Dow is concerned as to what OSHA means by the term "designated person." Hopefully, OSHA does not envision that one person must be hired to specifically conduct the training and evaluations. Dow recommends that the term "designated person" be broadly defined to include employees who have been through the training (or possibly an instructor from the training course) and have demonstrated sufficient knowledge and skill to fulfill this role.

Moreover, Dow believes paragraph (l)(2)(iii) must be modified to reflect that training may be handled by a variety of instructors, not merely one "designated person." For large facilities with multiple departments it may be more appropriate that there be multiple trainers with each focusing on specific elements of the training program. For example, one person would discuss the technical characteristics of the vehicle while another person would discuss the specific loading types for their particular department. Therefore, Dow recommends OSHA modify this section to allow facilities the flexibility to have multiple "designated persons."

OSHA has concluded that the final rule should adopt a performance-oriented approach to the qualifications of trainers and evaluators. As discussed above under issue 1, OSHA does not have the resources to evaluate and certify trainers and does not consider it necessary to do so. Trainers and evaluators with different backgrounds can achieve the level of ability necessary to teach and evaluate trainees. To meet these commenters' concerns, OSHA has eliminated the term "designated person" from the final rule and has instead described the knowledge, skills, or experience any trainer or evaluator must have under the standard.

The Agency finds that this approach will eliminate problems, especially in the construction industry, where terms such as "designated person," "authorized person," "competent person," "qualified person," and others, have distinct meanings and definitions. As written in the final rule, an employee with the requisite knowledge, training, and experience could himself or herself conduct the required training (both initial and refresher) and evaluations. An employer could also employ one or more such persons, or could contract with an outside training organization to conduct the required training and evaluation activities.

This change responds to comments (see, e.g., Exs. 11-10A, 11-29, 11-5, 11-6A) submitted to the record. For example, a comment submitted by Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLC, on behalf of a client, the Miller Brewing Company, explains that, in today's environment, which is characterized by "declining levels of supervision and increasing employee participation and empowerment," the person conducting the training and evaluation would in all likelihood be an employee (Ex. 11-29). Another comment from the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) urged OSHA to use language in the final rule that would clearly recognize training given by "qualified third parties when a company does not have a qualified staff instructor" (Ex. 11-5). The Mobil Oil Company (Ex. 11-6A) expressed the view that a designated person was not needed succinctly: "the requirement for operator certification by a "designated person" is not practical and would hinder the quality and timeliness of operator training."

E. Training Program Content -- Paragraph (l)(3)

To ensure that the training provided to powered industrial truck operators contains the appropriate information for the operator, the final rule includes a list of subjects that must be mastered in order to operate a truck safely. Paragraph (l)(3) states that all of the topics must be covered in operator training unless the employer can demonstrate that one or more of these topics is not necessary for safe operation in a particular workplace. It is the employer's responsibility to ensure that operators successfully complete all needed training and that the appropriate subjects are taught, including those that are pertinent to the type(s) of truck the operator will be allowed to operate and the work environment in which the vehicle(s) will be operated. Paragraph (l)(3) permits the employer to exclude those topics that are not relevant to safe operation at the employee's work location. However, the employer has the responsibility of demonstrating that these topics are not needed.

For example, if the operator will be operating an order picker, that employee must be trained in, e.g., the location and function of the controls; the location and operation of the engine or motor; steering and maneuvering; visibility; inspection and maintenance that the operator will be expected to perform; and the other general operating functions of the vehicle listed in paragraphs (l)(3)(i)(A) through (M) as well as the workplace-related topics covered in paragraph (l)(3)(ii)(A) through (I). The employee also must be taught and understand, for example, that he or she must be restrained from falling when the platform of the truck is in an elevated position and that he/she must never drive the truck when the platform is elevated (except as specified in the operator's manual). Under paragraph (l)(3), it is the employer's responsibility to ensure that the necessary elements of the training for the type(s) of vehicle to be used and the workplace in which that vehicle(s) will be operated are included in the training.

Some of the elements may be omitted if the employer can demonstrate that they are not relevant to safe powered industrial truck operation in the employer's workplace. In such cases, the employer must be able to demonstrate that a particular topic on the list is not relevant to the training program because that element does not apply to the type of vehicle(s) in use, or because the workplace condition addressed by the element does not exist. For example, if a powered industrial truck is not used in a hazardous environment (gases, vapors, combustibles -- see paragraph 1910.178(c)), no training in this element is needed. Similarly, if the truck will be operated on smooth concrete floors, no training needs to be given on operating on rough terrain.

There were several comments (Exs. 7-7, 7-12, 7-13, 7-14, 7-16, 7-34, 7-36, 7-39, 7-65, 7-67, 7-69, 7-70, 11-5, 11-10, 11-11, 11-12, 11-14, 11-15, 11-18, 11-24, 11-29, 11-30, 11-31, 11-32, 11-37, 11-44, 11-45, 29, Tr. pp. 49, 54, 71, 336) that discussed one or more of the topics included in the training program. Some commenters and ACCSH (Exs. 11-5, 7-13, 11-18) suggested that describing the similarities of powered industrial trucks and automobiles could lead a trainee to believe that being able to drive a car automatically means being able to safely operate a powered industrial truck. On the other hand, according to these commenters, emphasizing the differences between driving a car and operating a powered industrial truck would help to clarify important differences, e.g., in steering, stability, and other characteristics.

For example one commenter (Ex. 7-13) stated:

In section (3)(i)(B), delete * * * "Similarities to and differences from the automobile * * *" What does this have to do with operating industrial trucks and why does it have to be included in training? It should be noted that experience with automobiles on the country's highways is far worse than the experience of industry with the use of industrial trucks. Section (3)(iii) should be deleted or reworded. As stated, an employer could be cited for violations if they have not covered the OSHA Standard as a mandatory part of training. However, it is not agreed that this would significantly improve the overall safety of industrial truck operations.

Another commenter (Ex. 11-5) disagreed:

ASSE believes it is appropriate to differentiate between operating a powered industrial truck and a car. The different steering techniques and the hazards unique to industrial truck operations, we believe, makes such training necessary.

The language of paragraph (l)(3) has been changed slightly in the final rule to emphasize the need to explain the differences between industrial trucks and automobiles.

There also was comment about whether operators must learn all about servicing and maintaining a powered industrial truck if they will not have to perform that servicing and maintenance. For example, one commenter (Ex. 7-39) stated:

Subparagraph (i)(D) should be deleted in its entirety. The phrase "and maintenance" should be deleted from subparagraph (i)(J).

These topics have no bearing on the operator's ability to operate a forklift in a safe manner. The operator does not require knowledge in how an internal combustion power plant or an electrical battery works or is maintained in order to safely operate a forklift. Unless the operator is going to perform this specialized work, there is no need to train the operator in such topics.

OSHA agrees with these commenters' contentions and has changed the final rule accordingly. Paragraph (l)(3)(i)(J) is now written to clarify that if an operator has no servicing responsibilities, that operator need not be trained in how to conduct that servicing activity. On the other hand, if the operator is required to perform any servicing or maintenance on a vehicle, that operator should know how to perform that servicing or maintenance.

The training topics included in this final rule were developed from those contained in the ASME B56.1-1993 standard. Much professional expertise has gone into their development. Many commenters (see, e.g., Exs. 11-10A, 11-18, 11-19, 11-25) generally supported the topics listed. For example, one hearing participant (Tr. p. 54) stated:

In my opinion, there are a vast number of industries, many largely diversified within themselves, using a multitude of various classifications of lift trucks. Within these classifications there may be multiple attachment applications. Thus, I support the position of OSHA giving the employer the option to eliminate a topic from the list of required subjects provided the employer can demonstrate that the topic is unrelated to the work environment. There are certain topics which are necessary for operators to thoroughly understand and appreciate.

Another commenter (Ex. 11-18) stated:

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters feels that the current list of topics is comprehensive and should not be substantially altered.

OSHA concludes that the topics proposed, as modified in the final rule based on public input, are appropriate as the basis of effective powered industrial truck operator training programs.

In developing training programs for different types of vehicles, there are certain elements that are common to each program. When training operators of different types of vehicles, employers can take advantage of these similarities by only training employees once on these common subjects. This principle reflects the Agency's desire to allow employers to conduct the training as efficiently and inexpensively as possible while ensuring that the training is adequate.

F. Refresher Training and Evaluation -- Paragraph (l)(4)

Paragraph (l)(4)(i) requires employers to provide refresher training as required by paragraph (l)(4)(ii) to ensure that the operator continues to have the knowledge and skills to operate the powered industrial truck safely. Refresher training, which is triggered by the occurrence of the events listed in paragraph (l)(4)(ii), complements the initial training required by paragraph (l)(3) and serves to reinforce that initial training. The refresher training also includes an informal evaluation component that might involve, for example, observing the operator to ensure that he or she has mastered the skills necessary to address any performance deficiency or has developed the skills to operate a new type of truck safely.

An instance of unsafe operation, or an accident, or a near-miss incident, triggers refresher training as specified in paragraph (l)(4)(ii). Such refresher training also is needed if evaluation reveals that an operator is not operating the truck safely, or if an operator is assigned to drive another type of powered industrial truck or to work in substantially different or changed conditions. The type and amount of training needed in the refresher training depend on several factors, including: the different characteristics of the new type of truck or terrain; the practice or practices that the evaluation indicated needed improvement; the nature of the unsafe act; and the potential for an accident to occur. OSHA's decision not to specify the frequency of refresher training but to require it to be provided on an as-needed basis is discussed elsewhere in this preamble. The final rule provides a performance-oriented and cost-effective approach to refresher training. It also requires, at paragraph (l)(4)(i), evaluation of the effectiveness of the refresher training, to ensure that safe practices have been reinforced. This evaluation can be brief and informal. Many comments addressed this provision (Exs. 7-13, 7-16, 7-20, 7-21, 7-23, 7-25, 7-26, 7-28, 7-29, 7-31, 7-34, 7-35, 7-38, 7-39, 7-43, 7-44, 7-45, 7-46, 7-47, 7-48, 7-49, 7-52, 7-56, 7-58, 7-59, 7-61, 7-65, 7-67, 7-69, 7-70, 113, 11-4, 11-5, 11-10, 11-12, 11-15, 11-19, 11-20, 11-27, 11-29, 11-31, 11-32, 11-36, 11-38, 11-44, 28, 29, Tr. pp. 27, 36-39, 55, 63-65, 78, 82, 101, 179, 210, 319, 345, 395, 421-422). Some commenters supported the proposed rule's approach of relying on certain events, operator practices or workplace conditions to trigger refresher training. For example, one commenter (Ex. 11-3) stated:

Bell Atlantic believes unsafe operation, accidents or near-misses are important criteria for determining if refresher/remedial training is required; however, it is also appropriate for employers to evaluate employees to ensure the employee retains and uses the skills, knowledge, and ability needed to operate the powered industrial truck safely. This evaluation can be accomplished by the employer conducting periodic work observations of the employee's operation of the vehicle to identify areas where remedial training may be needed. The timing of these evaluations should be left to the discretion of the employer.

Another commenter (Ex. 7-46) stated:

The NAM agrees that employees should be retrained when they are shown to have operated equipment in an unsafe manner * * *

The final rule, at paragraph (l)(4)(ii), contains the triggers for refresher training that were proposed, but adds two others: when a different type of truck or different conditions are introduced or occur in the workplace. This could include a different type of paving, reconfiguration of storage racks, new construction leading to narrower aisles or restricted visibility, etc. These triggers have been added to the final rule because they are specified in the current ASME standard (B56.1-1993, section 4.19.5) and because some commenters (see e.g., Ex. 11-5) recommended that OSHA "follow the requirements of * * * [that standard] as a guide for refresher/remedial training."

Some commenters (see, e.g., Exs. 11-3, 11-4, 11-5, 11-10, 11-14, 11-15, 11-25, 11-27, 11-32, 7-13, 7-25, 7-36, 7-45, 7-58) recommended that periodic evaluations be conducted at less frequent intervals, rather than annually, as proposed. These commenters suggested that more frequent evaluations were unnecessary, would interrupt the production process, and would be burdensome for employers.

OSHA believes that the triennial evaluations required by the final rule need not take excessive time, be unduly burdensome, or interrupt the production process. In most cases, the person conducting the evaluation would do two things: first, observe the powered industrial truck operator during normal operations to determine if the operator is performing safely, and second, ask pertinent questions to ensure that the operator has the knowledge or experience needed to operate a truck safely. In some cases, because of the danger or complexity of the operation, the extent of the change in conditions, or the operator's need for additional skills, the evaluation will need to be lengthier and more detailed.

The proposed rule would have required employers to evaluate the driving performance of powered industrial truck operators on an annual basis. Commenters from general industry, construction, and the maritime industries (shipyards, marine terminals, and longshoring operations) objected to the frequency of the proposed evaluations (see e.g., Exs. 7-13, 7-25, 7-28, 7-34, 7-36, 7-45, 7-58, 7-59, 7-69, 7-70, 11-5, 11-10, 11-14, 11-15, 11-25, 11-27, 11-29, 11-32, 11-36, 11-46). For example, the American Petroleum Institute (API)(Ex. 11-10) stated:

API * * * emphasizes our position that * * * it would be unnecessary to evaluate operators annually. Rather, API suggests that operators be evaluated every three years. This would substantially reduce the information collection burden, while still attending to those operators who may require additional training or who are operating in an unsafe manner.

Arguing along similar lines, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) (Ex. 11-14), stated:

NAHB finds it an unreasonable burden on small employers for OSHA to require an annual evaluation of each operator * * * This will just be an unnecessary requirement and expense to small employers with no clear benefit.

The West Gulf Maritime Association (Ex. 7-66) held the same view, stating:

Refresher and/or evaluation training shall be provided [only] when determined necessary by performance.

The Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) also questioned the need for annual evaluations. Jere W. Glover, Chief Counsel for Advocacy, stated (Ex. 7-41):

* * * I question whether * * * it is necessary to perform official evaluations annually. Particularly in a small workplace, evaluations -- albeit informal -- may be ongoing. Furthermore, coupled with the need for written certification and the requirement for maintaining records, I am concerned about the paper trail that this provision would generate as well.

A few commenters (Exs. 7-29, 7-52) favored a biennial evaluation period rather than the proposed annual interval, but did not present data to support biennial, rather than triennial, evaluation.

In response to these concerns, the final rule requires that periodic evaluations of operator performance be conducted only once every three years. OSHA has revised this provision of the proposal because the Agency concludes that the final rule's comprehensive training requirements -- initial training and evaluation for all powered industrial truck operators needing such training; refresher training and evaluation for any operator observed to be operating unsafely, involved in an accident or near-miss, determined by evaluation to need retraining, or called upon to operate a different kind of truck or to operate under changed workplace conditions; and triennial evaluation to ensure that the necessary knowledge and skills have been retained -- provide a complete and systematic approach to powered industrial truck operator training. Given this three-tiered approach to training -- initial training and evaluation, refresher training and evaluation as needed, and periodic evaluations--annual evaluations are unnecessary. The final rule, at paragraph (l)(4), reflects this finding.

Paragraph (l)(4)(iii) requires employers to conduct an evaluation of each powered industrial truck operator's performance once every three years to ensure that the employee has retained and continues to use the knowledge and skills necessary for safe operation of the vehicle. The required evaluation does not have to be a formal, structured exercise. For example, an 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 powered industrial truck is being operated safely and asking the operator a few questions related to the safe operation of the vehicle.

G. Avoidance of Duplicative Training -- Paragraph (l)(5)

In paragraph (l)(5), the final rule allows employers to forego those portions of the required training that operators have previously received. OSHA proposed two similar provisions, one pertaining to new hires and one to current operators. The final rule combines these two provisions into one paragraph. The provision at paragraph (l)(5) is intended to prevent unnecessary or duplicative training both for newly hired operators and those already on the payroll. For example, if an operator is already trained in certain aspects of powered industrial truck operation, knows the necessary information, has been evaluated, and has proven to be competent to perform the duties of an operator, there is no reason to require an employer to repeat that operator's training.

There was a general consensus of opinion supporting the utility of this provision. (See Exs. 7-25, 7-31, 7-34, 7-39, 7-67, 7-68, 7-69, 11-12, 11-15, 11-17, 11-18, 11-20, 11-27, 11-28, 11-29, 11-30, 11-37, 11-42, Tr. pp. 283.) These commenters pointed out that unnecessary and repetitive training does not use the employer's or the operator's time productively. If an operator already knows how to operate a powered industrial truck safely and can demonstrate that ability, there is no need to further train that operator. OSHA agrees with these commenters, and the final rule reflects this conclusion.

Paragraph (l)(5) of the final rule provides that an employer need not provide further training to any operator (whether currently on the payroll or a new hire) in any training topic in which the operator has previously received training, if the operator, after evaluation, is found to be competent to perform the operator's duties safely. The operator would need additional training in any element(s) for which the evaluation indicates the need for further training, and for any new type of equipment or changes in workplace conditions.

In evaluating the applicability and adequacy of an operator's prior training, the employer may wish to consider these factors: the type of equipment the operator has operated; how much experience the operator has had on that equipment; how recently this experience was gained; and the type of environment in which the operator worked. The employer may, but is not required to, use written documentation of the earlier training to determine whether an operator has been properly trained. The operator's competency may also simply be evaluated by the employer or another person with the requisite knowledge, skills, and experience to perform evaluations. The employer can determine from this information whether the experience is recent and thorough enough, and whether the operator has demonstrated sufficient competence in operating the powered industrial truck to forego any or some of the initial training. Some training on the site-specific factors of the new operator's workplace is likely always to be necessary.

H. Certification -- Paragraph (l)(6)

OSHA proposed to require that employers certify that the required training and evaluation had been conducted and that the operator was competent to perform the duties of an operator safely by keeping a record with the name of the trainee, the dates of the training, and the signature of the person performing the training or evaluation. OSHA also proposed that the employer retain the training materials and course outline and, if the training was conducted by an outside trainer, the name and address of the trainer.

OSHA has, in this final standard, switched the order of the paragraphs on Certification and Avoidance of Duplicative Training. It is more logical to complete all elements of the training program before reaching the requirement to certify that training has been provided. Accordingly, the Certification paragraph in the final rule is in paragraph (l)(6) and the Avoidance of Duplicative Training is at paragraph (l)(5).

There was considerable comment on the proposed certification requirements. (See Exs. 7-13, 7-14, 7-16, 7-19, 7-21, 7-25, 7-26, 7-27, 7-34, 7-39, 7-40, 7-44, 7-47, 7-57, 7-58, 7-59, 7-62, 7-67, 7-69, 7-71, 11-3, 11-5, 11-6, 11-10, 11-12, 11-14, 11-15, 11-18, 11-24, 11-27, 11-28, 11-29, 11-30, 11-31, 11-32, 11-36, 11-37, 11-44, 28, 29, Tr. pp. 25, 51, 56, 102, 122, 155, 178, 203, 308, 321, 335, 341-344, 385, 408, 423.)

Some commenters pointed out that maintaining written certification records, particularly of training, provides a good means of measuring compliance with a standard. They pointed out that many conscientious employers already maintain records of employee training. For example, one commenter (Ex. 7-39) stated:

Subparagraph (l)(5) requires employers to certify that each operator has been trained or evaluated. Since training for training's sake should never be the focus of a training standard, and since keeping such documentation will not make some a safer driver, CMA believes that OSHA should require the employer to document the verification of the knowledge and skill of the forklift operator. Consistent with the above, CMA recommends that the documentation include: (1) the authorized operator's name and personal identifier; (2) the date of verification; (3) a reference to the verification method; and (4) the name of the verifier and personal identifier. The verifier should not be required to be signed because this prevents the use of electronic filing.

A second commenter (Ex. 11-3) stated:

In addition, OSHA requested specific comments on the collection of information requirement proposed in 1910.178(l)(5) which requires employers to prepare and maintain a record to certify that employees have been trained and evaluated as required by the proposed standard. Bell Atlantic provides a four (4) hour training program to approximately 300 employees who operate powered industrial trucks, at a cost of $224 per trainee, total training costs = $67,200. This training is documented on the employee's training record and maintained in their personnel file. Bell Atlantic fully supports the use of electronic collection and submission of information wherever possible.

One hearing participant (Tr. p. 423) stated:

Training records are an important tool for industries. It has been proven time and time again that analyzing prior training records before conducting refresher training will enable companies to identify employee conceptions of existing safety rules and standard operating procedures.

Some commenters agreed with the need to maintain records, but suggested that the requirement for a signature be deleted so it would be easier to computerize the records. (See Exs. 7-13, 7-21, 7-26, 7-27, 7-39, 7-40, 7-47, 7-59, 7-69.) OSHA agrees with these commenters and, accordingly, has changed the wording of this provision of the final rule to indicate that the identity of the person performing the training and evaluation is sufficient; a signature is not required. In addition, the final rule has substantially streamlined the proposed certification requirements, reducing the number of items needing to be certified, and eliminating the requirement to maintain training materials, course outlines, and other information when outside trainers are relied on.

Some commenters questioned the need for the employer to retain written records of the training on the grounds that the purpose of training is to prepare the trainee to operate a powered industrial truck in a safe manner and that observing that the operator is driving safely should be sufficient. For example, one commenter (Ex. 11-14) said:

These requirements will be a tremendous burden to builders, especially small builders, who are already overwhelmed by onerous existing recordkeeping requirements. This new request for information from the employer seems inappropriate considering the recent inquiries by OSHA about ways to reduce the paperwork burden on employers. Why mandate these requests for information now when they will most likely be identified at a later date as a source of unnecessary paperwork?

OSHA has been responsive to this comment. The Agency believes that the final rule's certification requirements will provide the assurance necessary that the operator has been trained and evaluated, as required by the standard. However, in response to those who felt that some of the recordkeeping was unnecessary, OSHA has eliminated the requirement for employers to maintain training materials and information from outside trainers. OSHA believes that the certification required by the final rule is sufficient written evidence that the training and evaluation required by the standard has occurred.

I. Dates -- Paragraph (l)(7)

The proposal did not include start-up dates. There are approximately 1.5 million powered industrial truck operators, and there is substantial turnover among these operators. Consequently, employers will need a reasonable period of time to implement the training and evaluation required by this final rule. There were a few comments on start-up dates ranging from immediately to three years. The period OSHA has chosen is based on its experience in implementing other safety standards.

The table in the final rule sets out the operator's employment status, and when the initial training and evaluation of operators must be completed. OSHA finds that the use of a table, rather than several written requirements, increases clarity and avoids confusion.

J. Appendix

OSHA has included a non-mandatory appendix in the final rule. Appendix A provides guidance to employers and employees on understanding the basic principles of truck stability. The information contained in this appendix is not intended to provide an exhaustive explanation; rather, it is intended to introduce basic concepts that the employer may use in developing and implementing a training program. The material in the appendix does not add to or reduce any of the mandatory requirements of these standards.

OSHA proposed a non-mandatory Appendix A that contained lists of training topics and other guidance and was primarily based on the current consensus standard, ASME B56.1-1993. Because most of the information in proposed Appendix A is included in the final rule itself at paragraph (l)(3), OSHA has not included proposed Appendix A in the final rule.

The appendix proposed as Appendix B is retained, and has been designated Appendix A in the final rule.

K. Statement of Reasons for Publishing This Standard in Lieu of the National Consensus Standard

In accordance with section 6(b)(8) of the OSH Act, the National Technology Transfer and Advancement (NTTAA) and OMB circular A-119, which implements the NTTAA, OSHA has reviewed the voluntary consensus standard, Safety Standard for Low Lift and High Lift Trucks (ASME B56.1-1993), and has made extensive use of it in developing its final rule. Where there are differences between OSHA's standard and the consensus standard, they are based on several considerations. First, the Agency bases its standards on the rulemaking record. Second, voluntary consensus standards are not always written with enforcement in mind. Third, the consensus standard contains more detail than is necessary in an OSHA standard. OSHA has developed a final rule that is flexible and protective, as well as performance-based. For these reasons, the Agency finds that the final rule better effectuates the purposes of the Act than the consensus standard.

[63 FR 66237, Dec. 1, 1998]

Regulations (Preambles to Final Rules) - Table of Contents

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