Thousands of forklift operators and construction workers are victims of workplace accidents in the United States every year, and the reason for many of these accidents is often linked to insufficient training of construction equipment and forklifts, and a lack of safety-rule enforcement. OSHA forklift regulations are in place to reduce the risk of workplace incidents and ensure that all employees have been adequately trained in safety procedures and guidelines when driving a forklift. All companies that use forklifts must comply with OSHA forklift regulations or they will be fined for violating the law.

OSHA Forklift Regulations and Standards

All powered industrial trucks, or forklifts, are subject to OSHA forklift regulations and industry standards. According to Federal law, anyone under the age of 18 years is not permitted to operate a forklift. Anyone over 18 years of age who has not received appropriate training and certification is also not permitted to operate a forklift.

The key areas covered under OSHA forklift regulations include:

  • Materials and storage procedures and handling requirements
  • General design and construction standards of powered industrial trucks (forklifts)
  • Approved trucks for use on construction sites and in warehouses
  • Labeling requirements
  • Storage and handling of liquid fuels
  • Storage and handling of liquid petroleum gas
  • Carbon monoxide levels and maximums
  • Dockboards
  • Cargo handling gear and equipment

How OSHA Forkflit Regulations Are Enforced

As of April 2011, twenty-five states in the United States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are compliant with OSHA-approved State plans and have also adopted their own method of enforcement and standards. Most of these standards are identical to those mandated by the Federal government, but some States choose to adopt different standards based on their own policies.

OSHA requires all employers to develop a solid training program that ensures the forklift operator has the skills and knowledge necessary to safely operate their truck. Employers are required to monitor the employee's performance regularly, and also provide refresher courses to make sure all employees remain compliant with OSHA forklift regulations.

Key areas of compliance include:

  • Providing evaluations in the form of classroom training and hands-on training
  • Trainers must have extensive knowledge, experience and training credentials in order to teach forklift drivers
  • All training must be site-specific and equipment-specific
  • Trainees must be tested on the actual equipment that will be used at the work site, and in the same environment that they will be operating the vehicle in
  • Companies must take steps to insure all personnel operating the equipment have received adequate safety training
  • All training sessions, exams and evaluations of forklift drivers must be thoroughly documented so that the information can be reviewed periodically
  • All forklift drivers must undergo a refresher training course if they are involved in a workplace incident or if they have been observed operating the forklift in an unsafe manner

OSHA requires these forklift training programs to include both classroom and practical training, and to evaluate employees at least once every three years. All trained employees must be certified and/or have a written evaluation that confirms that the training is complete. Forklift training that consists of only videos or online tutorials is not acceptable. All forklift operators must complete a hands-on portion to demonstrate their skills.

All employees or forklift driver trainees who are looking for a forklift driver training program need to make sure that the program has been OSHA-approved and meets all OSHA forklift regulations.