How to Comply with Powered Industrial Truck Loading Requirements

Date First Published on SafetySmart Compliance: February 21st, 2012
Topics: Materials Handling & Storage | Powered Industrial Trucks |

The OSHA Powered Industrial Trucks standard requires employers to take steps to ensure the safe loading of trucks (29 CFR 1910.178(o)). Here’s a summary of the requirements.

Click here for a Model Safe Loading Policy for Powered Industrial Trucks that you can use to ensure compliance.

Loading of Powered Industrial Trucks

The standard’s requirements are designed to ensure that only stable or safely arranged loads are handled. You must exercise caution when handling off-center loads which can’t be centered and ensure that only loads within the rated capacity of the truck are handled.

The long or high (including multiple-tiered) loads which may affect capacity must be adjusted. Trucks equipped with attachments must be operated as partially loaded trucks when they’re not handling a load.

Mast and Tilting Requirements

There must be a load engaging means placed under the load as far as possible and the mast must be carefully tilted backward to stabilize the load. Extreme care must be used when tilting the load forward or backward, particularly when high tiering.

Tilting forward with load engaging means elevated shouldn’t be allowed except to pick up a load. You must also ensure that an elevated load isn’t tilted forward except when the load is in a deposit position over a rack or stack. Only enough backward tilt to stabilize the load may be used when stacking or tiering.


There are 2 loading practices you need to be very careful about using: “split-forking,” i.e., moving 2 separate pallet loads with one truck by inserting one fork into each pallet, and “bulldozing,” i.e., having one pallet on the forks and using that load to push other pallets out ahead of the truck. Although not specifically addressed in the standard, OSHA indicated in a 1999 Interpretation Letter that these practices are potentially hazardous and may violate the loading requirements, specifically the requirement that only stable loads be handled.