Here are OSHA’s answers to some 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.
2. What does the standard require?
The 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. Refresher training is needed whenever an operator demonstrates a deficiency in the safe operation of the truck.
3. Does OSHA provide a list of topics to include in my training program?
The standard provides a list of training topics; however, the employer may exclude those topics which are not relevant to safe operation at the employee’s work location.
4. Who should conduct 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.
If the employer chooses outside training, many resources are available, including truck manufacturers, local safety and health organizations, private consultants, and local trade and vocational schools.
Private companies that provide forklift safety training services, including videos and written programs, can be located on various Internet websites. Most videos can be either leased or purchased. Simply 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.
5. If my employees receive training from an outside consultant, how will I know they 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.
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.
7. Is testing required?
The standard does not specifically require testing; however, some method of evaluation is necessary.
8. Does OSHA require the employer to issue licenses to employees who have received training?
The OSHA standard does not require employees to be licensed. An employer may choose to issue licenses to trained operators.
9. 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.
10. How long must I keep the certification records?
Employers who evaluate the operator’s performance more frequently than every three years may retain the most recent certification record; otherwise, certification records must be maintained for three years.
11. If my employees receive training, but accidents 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.
12. Is annual training required?
No. An evaluation of each powered industrial truck operator’s performance is required to be conducted after initial training, after refresher training, and at least once every three years.
13. How often must refresher training be given?
The standard does not require any specific frequency of refresher training. Refresher training must be provided when:
- The operator has been observed to operate the vehicle in an unsafe manner.
- The operator has been involved in an accident or near-miss incident.
- The operator has received an evaluation that reveals that the operator is not operating the truck safely.
- The operator is assigned to drive a different type of truck.
- A condition in the workplace changes in a manner that could affect safe operation of the truck.
14. If employees have already received training, or have been operating trucks for many years, must I retrain them?
No. An employer does not need to retrain an employee in the operation of a powered industrial truck if the employer certifies that the operator has been evaluated and has proven to be competent to operate the truck safely. The operator would need additional training in those elements where his or her performance indicates the need for further training and for new types of equipment and areas of operation.
15. How do I evaluate my employee’s competency to operate a truck safely?
Evaluation of an operator’s performance can be determined in a number of ways, such as:
- a discussion with the employee
- an observation of the employee operating the powered industrial truck
- written documentation of previous training
- a performance test