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Powered Industrial Lift Trucks

Powered industrial trucks, also known as forklifts or lift trucks, are important tools in many workplaces.  They perform a variety of material handling tasks and can facilitate moving, raising, lowering, or removing heavy or bulky materials or a number of smaller objects on pallets or in boxes, crates, or other containers. 

During the movement of materials, there are numerous opportunities for injuries and property damage to occur.  The Industrial Truck Safety Program has been created to minimize the risk of injury to employees or bystanders and to avoid damage to university property.  This program applies to the operation of all powered industrial trucks, motorized hand trucks, or other specialized industrial trucks by university employees or contractors engaged in university projects. 

Fork Truck:  Also called forklift truck, a fork truck is a small vehicle with two power-operated prongs at the front that can slide under heavy loads and then raise for moving and stacking. Fork trucks can be powered by electricity, compressed natural gas, liquid petroleum gas, diesel fuel, or gasoline.

Powered Industrial Truck:  Any mobile power-propelled truck used to carry, push, pull, lift, stack or tier materials. Powered industrial trucks can be driven or controlled by a walking operator.

Safety and Risk Management

Safety and Risk Management has the primary responsibility for the implementation and enforcement of the Industrial Truck Safety Program and is responsible for the following:

  • Developing, implementing, and evaluating the Industrial Truck Safety Program to ensure compliance.
  • Providing initial and periodic training of employees on the safe operation of equipment.
  • Maintaining the training documentation of all employees who complete training sessions.


Supervisors in support and administrative areas are responsible for providing the necessary direction and support to ensure the effective implementation of the Industrial Truck Safety Program for their work areas.  Supervisors are responsible for the following:

  • Ensuring that employees have been trained and evaluated on the specific types of powered industrial trucks that they will be operating.
  • Ensuring that employees inspect powered industrial trucks at the beginning of each work shift and complete the appropriate inspection forms.
  • Ensuring that proper maintenance according to the manufacturers’ recommendations is performed on the powered industrial truck and any hazards identified are corrected.
  • Ensuring that employees comply with all OSHA regulations while operating a powered industrial truck.


Affected Employees are responsible for the following:

  • Completing the required safety training course for powered industrial trucks.
  • Operating all powered industrial trucks in a safe manner consistent with their training.
  • Inspecting powered industrial trucks at the beginning of each work shift and completing the appropriate inspection forms.
  • Reporting all equipment malfunctions and/or maintenance needs to their supervisor immediately.
  • Complying with all OSHA regulations while operating a powered industrial truck.
  • Each powered industrial truck will be inspected before each shift.  Inspections must be documented using the Daily Checklist Form.
  • Shift inspection records shall be kept on file with the supervisor of the power industrial truck.
  • A maintenance log will be kept that identifies repair needs and corrective actions taken for each powered industrial truck. Documentation shall be kept with the supervisor of the powered industrial truck. 
  • If repairs are required on a powered industrial truck such that it cannot be safety operated, it must be taken out of service until the repairs have been completed.
  • Maintenance or repair activities are to be performed by a qualified service technician.
  • After repairs have been completed, the powered industrial truck will be operated to inspect that repairs have been completed and the equipment is safe for normal operation.
  • Powered industrial trucks will be kept in clean condition, free of dirt, excess oil, and grease.

Employees shall follow the powered industrial truck operations:

  • When a powered industrial truck is left unattended, the equipment will be put into neutral, the emergency brake will be set, and the power will be shut off. When the powered industrial truck is parked on an incline, the wheels will be blocked.
  • A powered industrial truck will be considered unattended when the operator is 25 feet or more away or when the vehicle is not in view.
  • When the operator has dismounted the powered industrial truck and is within 25 feet of the truck, the load will be lowered, the controls will be neutralized and the brakes will be set.
  • Powered industrial trucks will not be used to open or close freight doors.
  • Floors of truck trailers will be checked for breaks and weaknesses before powered industrial trucks are driven on them.
  • Riders are prohibited on forklifts and in cargo area of powered industrial trucks.
  • Persons are not allowed to pass under raised forks.
  • When an employee is being lifted by a powered industrial truck, a safety platform will be used that is firmly secured to the lifting carriage and/or forks. An operator will remain at the controls of the truck while the employee is being lifted.
  • Propane tanks will not be replaced while the engine is running.
  • Oil or other fluids spilled on the floor will be cleaned up immediately.
  • Only stable and safely arranged loads will be handled.
  • Only loads within the rated capacity of the powered industrial truck will be handled.
  • Only attachments approved and listed by the manufacture may be used.
  • Horseplay or unsafe driving is not tolerated.
  • Accidents are immediately reported to the supervisor and the Safety and Risk Management Office.

Standard Safety Equipment

  • Seatbelts are installed and utilized on each powered industrial truck.
  • Powered industrial trucks must have a functional horn, strobe light, fire extinguisher, and backup alarm.
  • Powered industrial trucks must have a nameplate listing lift category, load rating, and load center prominently affixed.
  • Powered industrial trucks must have a driver cage installed to protect the employee from falling materials.


Employees shall follow the powered industrial truck travel requirements:

  • Safe speed limits will be observed, and under all travel conditions a powered industrial truck will be operated at speeds that will permit it to be brought to a stop in a safe manner.
  • Three truck lengths (or two seconds) will be maintained between powered industrial trucks in operation. The powered industrial truck will be kept under control at all times.
  • When vision is obscured, the operator will slow down and sound the horn.
  • If the load blocks the operator’s view, the powered industrial truck will be driven in the direction that provides the best visibility.
  • The operator will keep a clear view of the path of travel.
  • The loaded powered industrial truck will be driven with the load upgrade when driving on ascending or descending grades greater than 10%.
  • Dock boards and bridge plates will be properly secured before they are driven over.

Only trained and authorized operators shall be permitted to operate a powered industrial truck.  Training will consist of classroom safety training and hands-on training with the powered industrial truck that the employee will operate.  If there are two or more types of powered industrial trucks that the employee will be operating, then the employee must have practical training for each different powered industrial truck they will be operating.     

Employee Qualifications

Employees must demonstrate their driving competence by passing a written test and completing a practical driving test for powered industrial trucks.  Employees must demonstrate acceptable competence and knowledge in performing each task. 

Refresher Training

Refresher Training in relevant topics shall be provided to the employee when:

  • The operator has been observed to operate the vehicle in an unsafe manner.
  • The operator has been involved in an accident or a near miss incident.
  • The operator is assigned to drive a different type of powered industrial truck.
  • A condition changes in the workplace that could affect the safe operation of the powered industrial truck.
  • Shall be provided at least every three years if none of the above situations occur.
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