electing the appropriate powered industrial truck for the workplace and training operators how to use it is just the start of complying with the Powered Industrial Trucks standard (29 CFR 1910.178(m)). You also have to ensure that such equipment is actually operated safely. Here’s an overview of the general trucks operations requirements and how to comply with them.
Click here for an Operator’s Checklist that workers can refer to before operating the equipment.
First, there are the DON’T’s, i.e., the practices pertaining to trucks operation that you can’t tolerate, including allowing:
The standard includes requirements specifically addressing unattended trucks. You need to ensure that when powered industrial trucks are left unattended:
What does unattended mean? A powered industrial truck is considered unattended when the operator is 25 ft. or more away from the vehicle which remains in his view, or the operator leaves the vehicle and it’s not in his view.
When the operator dismounts and is within 25 ft. of the truck still in his view, the load engaging means must be fully lowered, the controls neutralized and the brakes set to prevent movement.
There are also restrictions on space and required clearance for truck operations. First, there must be a safe distance maintained from the edge of ramps or platforms while on any elevated dock, or platform or freight car. Trucks may not be used for opening or closing freight doors.
There must also be sufficient headroom under overhead installations, lights, pipes, sprinkler systems, etc. You must use an overhead guard to protect against falling objects. There must also be load backrest extension used where necessary to minimize the risk of the load or part of it from falling rearward.
Of course, fire aisles, access to stairways and fire equipment must be kept clear.
Operation-specific operating requirements include ensuring that:
Requirements for fueling include making sure tanks aren’t filled while the engine is running and carefully washing away (or allowing for the complete evaporation of) spilled oil or fuel before restarting the engine.
Trucks with a leak in the fuel system may not be operated until the leak is corrected. And you can’t use open flames to check electrolyte levels in storage batteries or gasoline levels in fuel tanks.
Although there are a lot of rules, most are rooted in common sense. The key to compliance is discipline and organization and ensuring that all personnel understand and adhere to the requirements all the time and don’t take shortcuts.