How to Comply with Powered Industrial Truck Operating Requirements

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

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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.

Truck Operating Practices to Forbid

First, there are the DON’T’s, i.e., the practices pertaining to trucks operation that you can’t tolerate, including allowing:

  • Trucks to be driven up to anyone standing in front of a bench or other fixed object;
  • Any person to stand or pass under the elevated portion of a truck, whether it’s loaded or empty;
  • Unauthorized personnel to ride on powered industrial trucks (Another option is to permit riding by unauthorized personnel but ensuring there’s a safe place for them to ride;  and
  • Placing of arms or legs between the uprights of the mast or outside the running lines of the truck.

Unattended Trucks

The standard includes requirements specifically addressing unattended trucks. You need to ensure that when powered industrial trucks are left unattended:

  • Load engaging means are fully lowered;
  • Controls are neutralized;
  • Power is shut off;
  • Brakes are set; and
  • Wheels are blocked if the truck is parked on an incline.

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.

Spatial Truck Operating Requirements

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 Truck Restrictions

Operation-specific operating requirements include ensuring that:

  • Brakes are set and wheel blocks are in place to prevent movement of trucks, trailers or railroad cars while loading or unloading;
  • Where necessary, fixed jacks are used to support a semitrailer during loading or unloading when the trailer isn’t coupled to a tractor; and
  • The flooring of trucks, trailers and railroad cars is checked for breaks and weakness before they’re driven onto.

Fueling Requirements

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.