Skip to Content

Does the New OSHA Rule for Powered Industrial Trucks Affect You?

On December 1, 1998 OSHA issued new requirements for training employees that operate powered industrial trucks. OSHA is estimating that the new rules will cover more than 1.5 million operators. This includes general industry, construction and maritime industries. They revised the existing general industry standard 1910.178(l), added for shipyards a new standard 1915.120(l) cross-referencing the 1910.178(l). For the construction industry, a new standard has been added – 1926.602(d) with a cross-reference to 1910.178(l). OSHA defines powered industrial trucks as forklifts and other vehicles that carry, push, pull, lift, stack or tier material. The standard does not apply to vehicles that are used for earth moving or over-the-road hauling. What is the time limit for training? Employees that are hired before December 1, 1999 must be trained and evaluated by December 1, 1999. Employees hired after December 1, 1999, must be trained and evaluated before being assigned to operate a powered industrial lift truck. What must be included in the training program? The training program must consist of three parts:

  1. Formal Instruction. Formal Instruction can be administered through lecturing, discussions, interactive computers, videos or written material. The instruction does not have to occur in an actual classroom setting. It can be as simple as an instructor speaking with the trainee about the training material such as vehicle stability, what causes instability and how to avoid it.
  2. Practical Hands-on. This covers demonstrations performed by the instructor with practical exercises performed by the trainee. An example would be a “road course” utilizing cones.
  3. Evaluation. The instructor must evaluate the trainee’s ability to handle the truck safely in the workplace.

Specific Training Topics. These are located within the standards. All of these topics must be covered unless the employer can show that certain topics are not needed. The training program must be based on the trainee’s prior skill and knowledge, types of powered industrial trucks that are used in your workplace and the trainee’s ability to handle the powered industrial truck safely. Who is responsible for conducting the training? Although the standard does not specifically stipulate that a designated person conduct the training, it does explain the knowledge, skills and experience that the instructor must possess. Having all three requirements listed above, the instructor can be a supervisor, an employee or an outside resource. Employers must certify that the training and evaluation has been completed. How often must the training be conducted? Each operator’s performance must be evaluated every 3 years. The refresher training consists of operator observance to determine if the operator is performing the task safely and a question and answer session to ensure that the operator still has the needed knowledge to operate the powered industrial truck. Refresher training is also required when one of the following occurs:

  • The operator is involved in an accident or near-miss event;
  • The operator has been observed operating the vehicle unsafely;
  • The operator, during evaluation, has been determined to need more training;
  • The operator is assigned to a different type truck then they are used to.
  • There are changes in the workplace that could affect safe operation (such as a different type of paving, reconfigured racking system, new layouts with narrower aisles to maneuver through or restricted visibility.

Did you know…? OSHA estimates that at least 101 employees are killed on the job every year due to industrial powered truck accidents and 94,570 injuries occur annually in industrial truck mishaps. Here are some of the reasons why:

No training

Improper equipment

Tip over, Over turn Struck by Powered Industrial Truck

Employee struck by a falling load

Elevating an employee on the truck

Carrying excess passengers

Ran off loading dock or other surface

Poor Maintenance

Accident during maintenance

Lost control of truck


Vehicle left in gear

Operator inattentive

Unloading unchocked trailer

Employee fall from vehicle

Electrocutions Unstable load

Comments are closed.

Back to top