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OSHA Forklift Regulations You Need to Know

Posted by: admin on March 24, 2023

osha forklift regulationsForklifts are essential components of warehouses and construction sites around the world. Their ability to move heavy loads quickly and safely allows them to play key roles in a number of different industries. So long as OSHA forklift regulations are followed, these machines are excellent additions to any workplace. Too often, though, safety best practices are ignored, resulting in dangerous workplace accidents. 

It is estimated that forklifts cause about one percent of all factory and warehouse accidents. Despite this relatively low percentage, forklifts account for about 10 percent of injuries in such settings. Annually, forklifts are involved in more than 90,000 accidents throughout the United States. 61,000 of these incidents result in minor injuries, while nearly 35,000 lead to serious injuries. About 85 people die in forklift accidents each year. Forklift training classes can help workers stay safe on the job.

OSHA Forklift Rules and Regulations

OSHA forklift safety rules are outlined in OSHA Forklift Standards, Part 1910, Subpart N. The title is “Powered Industrial Trucks.” The subtitle is “Materials Handling and Storage.” You can read the guidelines on OSHA’s website. While all OSHA forklift regulations are important, a few highlights include:

Locations for Use

OSHA has forklift rules and regulations that govern areas for truck usage. They are broken down into three classes:

  • Class 1: Areas where flammable gases or vapors could produce explosive mixtures
  • Class 2: Areas where combustible dust presents a hazard
  • Class 3: Areas with ignitable mixtures in amounts not likely to ignite

Table N-1 provides a complete picture of these OSHA forklift regulations.

Safety Guards

High lift rider trucks must have an overhead guard that complies with ANSI guidelines for powered forklifts. If there are any hazards associated with the load, the truck must have a vertical load backrest extension.

Fuel Handling and Storage

Gas, diesel fuel, and LPG must be stored and handled using NFPA Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code guidelines.

Changing and Charging Storage Batteries

  • Designated battery charging stations must be set up and used at all times.
  • A conveyor or overhead hoist must be used to handle batteries.
  • Recharged truck batteries must be properly stored and maintained.
  • To fully charge a battery, a truck must be completely deactivated.
  • Defective battery vent caps must be replaced.
  • Employees should never smoke in the battery charging area.
  • Lighting in Areas Where Trucks are Used
  • Use auxiliary lighting when standard lighting is less than two lumens per square foot.

Control of Unsafe Gases and Fumes

Forklift carbon monoxide levels must not exceed those listed in section 1910.1000.

Safe Operation

Perhaps one of the most important OSHA forklift regulations requires all truck operators to be trained and certified. Lifts are not to be driven up to someone who is sitting or standing – untrained workers cannot ride on forklifts, either. Workers can’t stand or pass under the elevated part of the truck, regardless of whether or not it is loaded. Lifts in need of repair must be taken out of service until fixed. Fuel tanks may not be filled as the truck is actively running. 

Forklift operators are required to maintain a safe distance between trucks and travel slowly up and down grades. Safe stopping is a must, so speed must be kept to a minimum. It should go without saying that stunt driving isn’t allowed. Only safely arranged loads within the appropriate rated weight limit should be handled.

OSHA Forklift Training Requirements

Training is a key component of OSHA forklift regulations. According to OSHA, forklift training requirements consist of three main components: the training program itself, the topics taught, and renewal training. If you’re unsure how to become OSHA compliant, keep in mind these three things.

Training Program

In order to abide by OSHA forklift safety rules, training must consist of formal written instruction, practical training, and a skills evaluation to determine the skillset of the trainee. Training courses must be led by a qualified and experienced personnel in a safe environment that doesn’t put any other workers in danger (our OSHA approved online training qualifies)

Training Topics

  • Truck-related topics: Any OSHA forklift rules and regulations training classes online should include operating instructions and precautions; truck controls and instrumentation; the differences between a truck and an automobile; engine or motor operation; steering and maneuvering; vehicle capacity and stability; visibility; fork attachments; refueling or recharging batteries; performing inspections and maintenance; any operational limitations
  • Workplace-related topics: Different surface conditions; load composition; load manipulation and stacking; avoiding pedestrians; driving in hazardous locations; maneuvering ramps and slopes; driving in closed environments safely; navigating in narrow aisles and tight spaces

Refresher Training

Refresher training must be completed at least every three years for all employees, or as soon as any of the following occur: the operator has been caught operating the lift in an unsafe manner; the operator is involved in an accident or near-miss; the operator evaluation proves incompetency; a different type of lift is assigned; a condition in the workplace changes that can affect safety. has OSHA approved online training with refresher training included!

Do all these requirements sound overwhelming? Not to worry! offers the OSHA training online for forklifts you need to completely fulfill OSHA’s forklift regulations for operators. Our courses include all required topics, components, and come with free three-year renewals for life. Everything you need to be compliant with OSHA regulations is built into our easy, online courses.

The High Cost of OSHA Violations

Forklift rules and regulations aren’t mere suggestions. Fail to meet OSHA standards and your business may be heavily fined. A survey of 100 business owners found that more than half had their safety plans audited by OSHA. 82.5 percent received fines, many of which topped more than $100,000. Though OSHA forklift regulations seem relatively easy to abide by, many businesses struggle to meet safety standards.

Even when a business manages to sidestep financial penalties, they may see an increased rate of workplace accidents. OSHA regulations were designed to keep workers safe on the job. Forklifts are as dangerous as they are useful.

  • They can weigh up to 9,000 lbs. (three times heavier than many cars).
  • They can be used to load and unload heavy weights from high places.
  • They only have brakes in the front, making them tough to stop.
  • Uneven weight distribution can make them difficult to handle.
  • Rear-wheel drive increases the chance of tip-overs.
  • Full loads on the forks can obstruct the driver’s view

One of the biggest safety risks is using untrained forklift workers. OSHA indicates that better training could reduce forklift accidents by about 70%.

OSHA Forklift Safety FAQs

Complying with OSHA forklift regulations can be challenging. Here are answers to common forklift safety questions to help you meet OSHA forklift safety requirements.

Does OSHA require daily gorklift inspections?

Forklifts must be inspected before they are used each day. A forklift maintenance checklist can help guide workers through the process. They allow users to keep tabs on the condition of their lifts and the frequency of repairs. Monitoring usage helps keep equipment running smoothly for as long as possible.

Which safety precautions apply to forklifts?

Businesses that employ forklift operators are required to comply with OSHA forklift regulations. Failure to do so can result in OSHA penalties. Even worse, it increases the risk of forklift accidents.

What are the requirements to operate a forklift?

All forklift operators must be at least 18 years old and receive training and certification. If an underage or unlicensed operator is found using a lift, their employer can be penalized.

Follow OSHA forklift safety rules — you’ll be glad you did. Employers that comply with OSHA standards can lower the risk of forklift accidents. They can also help their forklift operators safely and effectively perform everyday tasks.

Get Forklift Certified and Stay Up-to-Date with OSHA Forklift Regulation

Comprehensive forklift training and certification is the best way to prevent workplace accidents and stay aligned with OSHA forklift regulations. offers fast, affordable options for learning about safety best practices. Our training program is designed for workers of all backgrounds and experience levels. Most people complete training in about an hour. 

If you’re looking to level up the way your business trains and certifies your employees, get in touch with today. Our OSHA experts are standing by to answer questions, tell you more about our offerings, and help your organization adopt safer policies and procedures. Reach out online or give us a call at 1-888-699-4800.

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