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Do You Need to Comply with OSHA Forklift Regulations?

Posted by: admin on March 23, 2021

Complete Guide to OSHA Forklift RegulationsForklifts play a key role for warehouses and other jobsites. They move heavy loads quickly and safely, so that jobs get done faster than ever before. Forklifts can also be used to quickly move products in and out of a warehouse. And, they allow for more efficient storage.

There is a lot to like about forklifts. However, driving a forklift involves a certain amount of risk.

Forklifts cause only 1% of all warehouse or factory accidents. Yet, they account for 10% of injuries in those worksites. Each year, forklifts are involved in more than 90,000 accidents throughout the U.S. Among these accidents, 61,000 cause minor injuries, almost 35,000 result in serious injuries, and about 85 result in death of the driver or other workers.

Why Are Forklifts Dangerous?

There are many reasons why forklifts can be dangerous, including:

  • 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 Rules and Regulations

Forklift safety guidelines 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.

General Requirements

This section covers safety guidelines for areas such as fire protection and design. It also covers maintenance and operation of certain types of trucks. These include fork trucks, tractors, platform lift trucks, and motorized hand trucks. These can either run on electricity or fossil fuel. The section does not cover compressed gas trucks, farm vehicles, earth movers, or load haulers.

All new and used forklifts must meet required design and construction guidelines. These can be found in the “American National Standard for Powered Industrial Trucks, Part II, ANSI B56.1-1969.”

Trucks must have a label or other mark showing the approval of the testing lab. An approved forklift has passed fire safety tests performed by a recognized testing firm using approved testing standards. Any changes that alter the capacity and safety of a forklift must have written approval from the manufacturer.

OSHA Forklift Standards – Designations

  • Battery charging stations should be placed in areas used exclusively for recharging vehicles.
  • All batteries should be handled with a conveyor or overhead hoist.
  • Recharged truck batteries must be safely stored and maintained.
  • The brakes must be fully activated when changing or charging the battery.
  • Battery vent caps must be in good working order.
  • No smoking is permitted in the battery charging area.

This section of OSHA forklift rules and regulations covers 11 types of forklifts or tractors:

  • G trucks use gas fuel. They have basic safeguards to protect against fire hazards.
  • D trucks are a lot like G trucks, except they use diesel rather than gasoline to power the engine.
  • DS trucks also use diesel fuel. They come with more safeguards on the exhaust, fuel, and electrical systems.
  • DY trucks have the safeguards of the DS without any electrical equipment. They also come with features that can limit the engine temperature.
  • E trucks use electric power. They come with basic safeguards for fire hazards.
  • ES trucks use electric power. As with E units, they must have safeguards that prevent sparks and limit surface temperatures.
  • EE trucks use electric power, and have the same requirements as E and ES units. They also have an enclosed motor and other electrical gear.
  • EX trucks use electric power. They have electrical fittings that are designed for use in areas that may have flammable vapors or dusts.
  • GS trucks use gas fuel. They have more safeguards to protect the exhaust, fuel, and electrical systems.
  • LP trucks are about the same as G trucks but use liquid petroleum gas (LPG) instead of regular gas.
  • LPS trucks use LPG. They also have come with extra safeguards for the exhaust, fuel, and electrical systems.

Other OSHA Forklift Safety Rules

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

All truck operators must be trained and certified. Forklifts must not be driven up to a person standing or sitting. Untrained workers cannot ride on forklifts. Workers should not stand or pass under the elevated portion of a truck, loaded or empty. Forklifts in need of repair must be taken out of service until repairs have been made. Fuel tanks must not be filled while the truck is running.

Drivers must maintain a safe distance between trucks. Forklifts must be driven slowly while go up or down grades. Trucks should be driven at a speed that allows a safe stop.

Stunt driving is not allowed. Only stable or safely arranged loads within the rated weight limit can be handled.

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.

Q: Does OSHA require daily forklift inspections?

A: You are required to inspect your forklifts at least once a day. It often helps to use a forklift maintenance checklist as part of lift inspections. The checklist allows you to track the condition of forklifts and the frequency of inspections and repairs. It can help you keep your forklifts running at peak levels for as long as possible.

Q: Which safety precautions apply to forklifts?

A: 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.

Q: What are the requirements to operate a forklift?

A: 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.

Learn More About OSHA Forklift Regulations

For the complete listing of all forklift regulations, visit OSHA’s 29 CFR standards page. You should stay up to date on OSHA forklift rules. This ensures you can comply with OSHA forklift safety standards now and in the future.

Of course, you can keep your workers and your workplace safe by signing up for forklift training from, too. It’s the fast and affordable way to learn all you need to know about OSHA forklift standards.

Our forklift safety certification training program is designed for workers of all experience and skill levels. It focuses on a variety of forklift safety topics and can be completed in as little as one hour.

We are happy to teach you about our forklift safety training program or get your workers signed up for it. For more information, please contact us online or call us today at 1-888-699-4800.

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