[box type=”shadow”]Lift trucks pick up supplies and transport them across industrial sites. So the truck operator and other construction workers don’t get injured during this process, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration–OSHA–regulates the design, maintenance and use of lift trucks. OSHA also restricts who is allowed to drive a lift truck. Today, forklifts are extremely common, and a huge number of rules and regulations govern how they can and should be used. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) sets most of these regulations, but individual companies can set additional guidelines that don’t contradict the OSHA laws.[/box]
A major requirement for driving a forklift is training. Not just anyone who wants to learn can start a forklift and begin driving. OSHA guidelines require that all potential forklift drivers go through classroom instruction and practical application lessons. The latter instruction consists of potential drivers watching the instructor as he performs a variety of actions in a forklift. Students are also expected to have some hands-on training in facilities with driving and loading with a forklift.
Forklifts don’t require lights if they’re going to be used outside during daylight hours or in brightly lit indoor areas. However, if a forklift is going to be used outside after dusk, it must have front and rear lighting (as does any other work truck under the law), and it must have appropriate signs on the front, sides and rear to identify it and warn people in the immediate area that it could be dangerous.
Only the forklift’s operator is allowed to ride on the vehicle. (It has only one seat, which the driver occupies.) Other persons aren’t allowed to ride on the forklift, whether hanging on the back or sides or riding on the front forks. Doing so is extremely dangerous and can lead to workplace injuries or fatalities. However, attachments that go over the forks and lock in place can create a solid lift platform, and if these attachments are used, people can ride safely on the forks.
According to Section 5(a)(1), employers must “furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.” This means that lift truck pathways must be wide enough to navigate and clear from clutter and obstructions and anything else that might result in an accident. Lift trucks also cannot be used in atmospheres where high concentrations of dangerous gas are present such as acetylene, hydrogen and diethyl ether. The atmosphere must also be free of high concentrations of metal dust such as aluminum or magnesium before a lift truck can be used.
Lift Truck Operation
OSHA applies certain rules to the operation of a lift truck. The operator of a lift truck may not steer the lift truck towards another human being if that person is standing in front of an unmovable object such as a secured bench or wall and has no way of escape. To protect employees from head injuries, employers must prohibit their employees from standing or walking beneath the elevated part of the truck, even if the lift is not carrying a load. When the lift truck is left unattended, the load must be completely lowered, the power turned off and the brakes set. If the truck is parked on an incline, blocks must be placed behind the wheels.