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This program is to establish procedures for safe operation of power industrial trucks (PITs). It supports compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Powered Industrial Truck Standard, as found in 29 CFR 1910.178. This program applies to employees, who operate material-handling equipment, including forklifts, reach trucks, and powered pallet jacks.


  • Authorized operator: An employee who completed both classroom and operation training on material-handling equipment at the company’s facilities.
  • Load center: The horizontal distance from the edge of the load to the load’s center of gravity.
  • Rated capacity: The maximum weight that the powered industrial truck is designed to lift, as determined by the manufacturer.


Powered Industrial Truck Operations

Operators are responsible for:

  • Operating PIT in a manner consistent with safe rules of operation.
  • Inspecting PIT at the beginning of each work shift and completing the inspection forms.
  • Reporting all equipment malfunctions and/or maintenance needs to their supervisors immediately.  Park PIT in a safe place, remove key, tag or note problem.


Personnel who operate PITs or forklifts, scissor lifts, boom lifts, powered hand trucks, and tractors, are required to be trained. Training shall consist of formal instruction, practical training, and evaluation of the operator's performance in the workplace.  Authorized personnel shall conduct all training.

Training Program Topics

Training shall include information on the following topics:

  • Operating instructions, limitations, and precautions for the types of truck to be operated
  • Differences between the truck and the automobile
  • Truck controls and instrumentation: where they are located, what they do, and how they work
  • Engine or motor operation
  • Steering and maneuvering
  • Visibility (including restrictions due to loading)
  • Fork and attachment adaptation, operation, and use limitations
  • Vehicle capacity and stability
  • Any vehicle inspection and maintenance that the operator will be required
  • Refueling and/or charging and recharging of batteries
  • Any other operating instructions, warnings, or precautions listed in the operator's manual
  • Surface conditions where the vehicle will be operated
  • Composition of loads to be carried and load stability
  • Load manipulation, stacking, and unstacking
  • Pedestrian traffic in areas where the vehicle will be operated
  • Narrow aisles and other restricted places where the vehicle will be operated
  • Hazardous locations where the vehicle will be operated
  • Ramps and other sloped surfaces that could affect the vehicle's stability
  • Closed environments and areas where insufficient ventilation or poor vehicle maintenance could cause a buildup of carbon monoxide or diesel exhaust
  • Other potentially hazardous environmental conditions that could affect safe operation


Retraining, including an evaluation of training effectiveness, is conducted to ensure that the operator has the knowledge and skills needed to operate the PIT safely. Retraining will be conducted when:

  • The operator has been evaluated or observed to operate the vehicle in an unsafe manner
  • The operator has been involved in an accident or near-miss incident
  • The operator is assigned to drive a different type of truck
  • A condition in the workplace changes in a manner that could affect the safe operation of the truck.

An evaluation of each PIT operator's performance shall be conducted at least once every three years.  Employee training records shall be maintained for five years.

Program Activities

Equipment Inspection and Maintenance

  • Each PIT will be inspected before each shift.
  • A file will be maintained that lists the shift inspections of equipment.
  • A maintenance log will be kept that identifies repair needs and actions taken for each PIT.
  • If repairs are needed on a PIT such that it cannot be safely operated, it will be taken out of service until the repairs have been made. After repairs have been completed, the PIT will be given a performance test to ensure that the equipment is safe to operate.
  • PIT will be kept in clean condition, free of dirt, excess oil, and grease.

Changing and Charging Batteries

  • Equipment will be provided to flush and neutralize spilled battery acid and electrolyte.
  • Smoking is prohibited in battery-charging areas.
  • Eyewash equipment will be maintained in charging areas.
  • Precautions will be taken to prevent open flames, sparks, and electric arcs in charging areas.
  • Employees who change and service batteries and handle corrosive liquids will wear the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Safe Work Practices

General Safe Work Practices

  • Only authorized personnel shall operate lift trucks.
  • Always wear the seatbelt when in the cab. If one isn’t available don’t operate or enter the PIT.
  • Before the start of the shift, a visual inspection must be conducted to determine if safe. 
  • Fill fuel tanks outdoors while the engine is off.
  • Drive with both hands on the steering wheel. Do not drive with wet or greasy hands.
  • No person shall ride as a passenger on a forklift or on the load.
  • A forklift will not elevate a platform or pallet with persons on it, except work platforms designed for this purpose. Work platforms must have guardrails, and must be fastened to the forks.
  • No person shall stand or walk under elevated forks.
  • Avoid jerky starts, quick turns, or sudden stops. Do not use reverse as a brake.
  • Slow down on wet and slippery surfaces, cross aisles, or locations where vision is obstructed.
  • When entering a building or nearing a blind corner make the approach at reduced speed.  Sound horn and proceed carefully.
  • Give pedestrians the right-of-way at all times.
  • Do not drive toward any person who is in front of a fixed object or wall.
  • Do not overtake and pass another forklift traveling in the same direction, at intersections, blind spots, or hazardous locations.
  • Do not put body parts between the uprights of the mast, or beyond the contour of the forklift.
  • Forks should always be placed under the load as far as possible. Do not lift a load with one fork.
  • No load should be moved unless it is safe and secure.
  • Use extra care when handling long materials.
  • Compressed gas cylinders shall be moved only in pallets designed for this purpose.
  • When unloading trucks or trailers, the brakes on the vehicle will be set and the wheels chocked.
  • Forklifts must be safely parked when not in use. The controls shall be neutralized, power shut off, brakes set, key removed, and the forks left in a down position flat on the surface, and not obstructing walkways or aisles.
  • A forklift shall not be left on an incline unless it is safely parked and the wheels blocked.
  • Only loads within the rated capacity of the PIT will be handled.


  • Speed limits will be observed, a PIT will be operated at speeds that will permit it to be brought to a stop in as safe manner.
  • Three truck lengths will be maintained between PIT in operation.
  • The PIT will be kept under control at all times. Horseplay is not permitted.
  • When vision is obscured, the operator will slow down and sound the horn.
  • If the load blocks the operator’s view, drive in the direction that provides the best visibility.
  • The PIT will cross railroad tracks at a diagonal.
  • The PIT will be parked 8 feet or further from the center line of the railroad tracks.
  • The operator will keep a clear view of the path of travel.
  • The loaded PIT will be driven with the load upgrade when driving on ascending or descending grades greater than 10%.
  • Dock boards and bridge plates will be secured before they are driven over.
  • When the forklift is not carrying a load, the operator shall travel with the forks as low as possible (maximum of 3 inches on paved surfaces). When carrying a load, it should be carried as low as possible (consistent with safe operation, 2 to 6 inches above the surface.)
  • The forks should not be operated while the forklift is traveling.
  • On a downgrade, the load shall be last, and the forks raised only enough to clear the surface.
  • On an upgrade, the load shall be first, and the forks raised only enough to clear the surface.