Each year in the United States, nearly 100 workers are killed and another 20,000 are seriously injured in forklift-related incidents [BLS 1997, 1998]. Forklift overturns are the leading cause of fatalities involving forklifts; they represent about 25% of all forklift-related deaths. Additionally, other worker injuries were caused by forklifts, powered pallet jacks and other lift trucks that drove off loading docks, struck foot/fingers, crushed workers and falls while on elevated pallets. Most incidents also involve property damage, including damage to overhead sprinklers, racking, pipes, walls, and machinery. Most employee injuries and property damage can be attributed to lack of safe operating procedures, lack of safety-rule enforcement, and insufficient or inadequate training.
This regulation refers to the safety requirements relating to fire protection, design, maintenance, and use of fork trucks, tractors, platform lift trucks, motorized hand trucks, and other specialized industrial trucks powered by electric motors or internal combustion engines. It does not, however, apply to compressed air or nonflammable compressed gas-operated industrial trucks, farm vehicles, nor to vehicles intended primarily for earth moving or over-the-road hauling.
UMD personnel should follow the operators' manuals supplied by equipment manufacturers that describe the safe operation and maintenance of the unit. The safe operation practices will be studied in depth during forklift safety training class. Accordingly, some of the OSHA requirements for forklift operation are:
OSHA requires that industrial trucks be inspected before being placed in service. They shall not be placed in service if the examination shows any condition adversely affecting the safety of the vehicle. Inspections shall be made at least daily. The use of safety and operational checklist is recommended. When industrial trucks are used around the clock, they shall be inspected after each shift. When defects are found, they shall be immediately reported and corrected.
University of Maryland employees must successfully complete training as required by OSHA prior to operating a powered industrial truck (except for training purposes). The safety training consists of a combination of practical training (demonstrations performed by certified powered industrial truck operators and practical exercises performed by the trainee prior to the formal instruction and evaluation), formal instruction (e.g., lecture, discussion, interactive computer learning, video tape, written material), and evaluation of the trainee's performance in the workplace.
The Department of Environmental Safety will coordinate the formal instruction and the trainee's evaluation. Environmental Safety will issue an operator's certificate to employees that successfully complete these two components of the training.
Refresher training is required if the operator is observed operating the truck in an unsafe manner; is involved in an accident or near miss; has been determined during an evaluation to need additional training; or is assigned a different type of truck. Evaluations of each operator's performance are required as part of the initial and refresher training, and at least once every three years.
The Powered Industrial Trucks standard requires additional training for forklift operators who change and charge batteries; handle propane tanks, fuel diesel or gasoline engines; and repair and maintain powered industrial trucks.