The Ultimate Guide to OSHA Forklift Compliance

Forklift operator following OSHA forklift safety rules

Let’s face it, OSHA forklift guidelines are confusing. There are dozens of OSHA forklift standards, each noted by long numbers and complicated language. It’s hard to tell what they actually mean.

Unfortunately, not understanding these guidelines doesn't give you a free pass. Failing to comply with OSHA forklift safety rules could cost you over $100,000 in fees.

Industrial Forklift Truck is here to help. We’ve broken down each OSHA forklift standard into simple, actionable steps that you can implement at your business. Following OSHA forklift safety rules has never been easier.

Learn more about OSHA forklift training requirements, safety protocol, and other guidelines here.

OSHA Forklift Training Requirements

As confusing as OSHA can be, they’re very clear on one thing: It is the employer’s responsibility to make sure operators are properly trained and certified. If OSHA finds that one of your operators doesn’t meet forklift certification requirements, the fines will fall on you.

Because of this, it’s important to fully understand OSHA forklift training requirements and other safety guidelines. If you’re going to offer a forklift training program in-house, you’ll need to provide:

  • Initial training
  • Licensure
  • Evaluation
  • Renewal training

Forklift certification requirements include formal instruction, practical training, and operator evaluation. It’s not enough to do online training. OSHA forklift training requirements also include an in-person learning portion.

OSHA offers a list of topics your program should cover to meet forklift certification requirements. Keep in mind that operators will need to undergo an evaluation and additional refresher training every 3 years to continue to meet OSHA forklift standards.

Forklift Inspection Checklist

OSHA forklift standard 1910.178(q)(7) requires that forklift operators assess the equipment every day before use. Prepare a forklift inspection checklist to make this process simple for your employees.

Ensure this checklist is followed daily. Keep a logbook for operators to sign each time it is completed. Create a streamlined process for operators to follow if an issue is found and the equipment needs a repair. Again, at the end of the day, failure to comply falls on you.

Keep in mind that this inspection should bring small issues to light before they come major, expensive ones. It'll also protect your operators from dangerous accidents caused by equipment failure.

Here’s what your forklift inspection checklist should include:

1. Pre-Operational Inspection

Check these items before turning on the forklift.

  • Fluid levels
  • Visible defects (leaks, cracks, etc.)
  • Tire condition (cuts, gouges, low pressure, etc.)
  • Forks (including top clip retaining pin & heel)
  • Load backrest extension
  • Finger guards
  • Safety decals & nameplates (check for legibility and correct information)
  • Operator manual (should be in truck & legible)
  • Safety devices (seat belt, horn, etc.)

Additional forklift inspection checklist requirements exist for certain forklift types. If your equipment uses one of the engine types listed below, check these additional items.

  • Electric:
    • Frayed/exposed wires
    • Battery restraints
    • Electrolyte levels
    • Hood latch
  • Internal combustion:
    • Engine oil & coolant
    • Brake reservoir
    • Air filter
    • Belts/hoses
    • Radiator
    • Hood latch
  • Liquid propane:
    • Pressure relief valve (pointing up)
    • Hose & connectors
    • Tank (check restraint brackets & check that tank is properly mounted)

2. Operational Inspection

Check these items after the pre-operational inspection. The equipment should be turned on for this part of the inspection.

  • Accelerator linkage
  • Inch control
  • Brakes
  • Steering
  • Drive & tilt control (both forward & in reverse)
  • Hoist & lowering control (attachment control)
  • Horn & back-up alarm
  • Lights
  • Hour meter

Access OSHA's sample forklift inspection checklists here.

Any equipment that does not pass this daily forklift inspection checklist or is deemed to be in unsafe operating condition should be immediately removed from service. To comply with OSHA forklift safety rules, it’s imperative that all issues are immediately reported and fixed by authorized personnel.

Forklift operator complying with forklift certification requirements

Complying With Standards

To comply with OSHA forklift safety rules, you should also schedule routine maintenance for all equipment. This will prevent any safety incidents caused by broken machinery. Well-trained forklift operators paired with quality equipment can also prevent expensive repairs.

OSHA forklift protocol covers every step, from training to maintenance. Operators that meet forklift certification requirements will increase the productivity of your business while helping you avoid hefty fees. Most importantly, OSHA forklift safety rules keep your employees protected from work-related injuries.

If your equipment itself is a safety hazard, turn to Industrial Forklift Truck. We carry the largest inventory of new and refurbished equipment nationwide. When you use Industrial Forklift Truck, you can compare pricing and information on all of your options before you choose.

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