OSHA issued guidance to its safety and health inspection officers on enforcing the powered industrial truck operator standard.
The standard was issued Dec. 1, 1998, and applies to more than 1.5 million workers who operate forklifts and other powered industrial trucks in all industries except agricultural operations.
The standard requires employers to ensure that each powered industrial truck operator is competent to operate a powered industrial truck safely, as demonstrated by successful completion of a training program and evaluation.
The training program includes truck-related topics, workplace related topics and the requirements of the standard.
It also requires a periodic evaluation of each operator''s performance, along with refresher training if circumstances warrant, such as unsafe operation or an accident.
The compliance directive provides the following guidelines to assist compliance officers in enforcing the standard:
- Inquire about the employer''s training approach, and ensure all training is conducted by an experienced and knowledgeable person.
- Ensure that operators have received training in operating instructions, warnings or precautions listed in the operator''s manual for the vehicles they will operate.
- Observe forklifts in operation and interview the employer and employees.
- Ensure the employer certifies that all required training and evaluations have been conducted.
- Follow specific enforcement guidelines for the longshoring and marine terminal industries.
Almost 1 million powered industrial trucks are currently in use.
OSHA estimates the training standard will prevent 11 deaths and 9,500 injuries each year, and save employers $135 million in costs associated with powered industrial truck-related accidents.
Deadlines Extended for Longshoring, Marine Terminal Operations
Employees of longshoring and marine terminal operations received longer compliance deadlines as a result of a July 14 settlement agreement with several industry groups, including the National Maritime Safety Association (NMSA) and labor unions, including the International Longshoreman''s Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
The NMSA petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals last year to review the standard''s impact on longshoring and marine terminal operations, specifically asking for extended compliance deadlines.
Under that agreement, longshoring and marine terminal employers must meet the standard''s requirements by Oct. 1, 2001, for workers who regularly operated a powered industrial truck before Dec. 1, 1998.
Longshoring and marine terminal employers must comply with the standard by June 30, 2001, for workers who did not regularly operate such equipment before Dec. 1, 1998.
All other employers were required to comply with the standard by Dec. 1, 1999.
The directive can be accessed from OSHA''s Web site at www.osha.gov under the "Directives" link.
by Virginia Sutcliffe