OSHA’s Most Common Citations: Powered Industrial Trucks

What’s the driving force behind many industries around the globe?

Powered industrial trucks, of course – the forklifts or lift trucks used throughout many industries to move materials by raising, lowering or removing large or multiple smaller objects stacked on pallets or in boxes, crates or other containers.

As it is with all moving machinery, there’s high risk in using and being around such equipment. Because of that, Powered Industrial Trucks are included among the annual list of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) most frequently issued citations.

There are many types of powered industrial trucks and each type presents different operating hazards. For example, a sit-down, counterbalanced high-lift rider truck is more likely than a motorized hand truck to be involved in a falling load accident because the sit-down rider truck can lift a load much higher than a hand truck.

Workplace type and conditions are also factors in hazards commonly associated with powered industrial trucks. For example, retail establishments often face greater challenges than other worksites in maintaining pedestrian safety. Beyond that, many workers can also be injured when:

  • Lift trucks are inadvertently driven off loading docks,
  • Lift trucks fall between docks and an unsecured trailer,
  • People are struck by a lift truck, or,
  • People fall while on elevated pallets and tines.

Trucks, trains, ships and planes carry goods all over the United States. But at either end of the shipping route, those vehicles are loaded and unloaded, and those goods are moved and distributed, using a much smaller piece of equipment: the powered industrial truck, or forklift.

All powered industrial trucks pose similar hazards – primarily collisions, tipovers, falling loads and fire/explosion hazards. The interaction of the forklift and the work environment may also create a hazard – for example, when forklifts are used in hazardous atmospheres. OSHA’s powered industrial truck standard, 29 CFR 1910.178, requires employers to address these hazards by:

  • Not allowing attachments or modifications that are not approved by the manufacturer.
  • Choosing forklifts with appropriate safeguards for the work environment.
  • Handling forklift fuel and batteries safely.
  • Ensuring that forklifts are regularly inspected and properly maintained.
  • Providing extensive operator training and certification that is specific to the type of forklift and the work environment.

Each year, OSHA tallies up the citations it has issued and publishes a list of the 10 most-cited standards. There are about a half-dozen standards that almost always make that list. Powered Industrial Trucks is one.

Check out the entire list of OSHA’s Most Common Citations and How You Can Avoid Them in a report published by Intelex Technologies. It is available as a free download.

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