Forklifts accidents are one of the leading causes of both nonfatal work injuries as well as fatal work injuries. This is in large part due to the fact that forklifts are used across many different industries, including:
- the construction industry,
- the materials handling industry (warehousing),
- the food manufacturing and production industry, and
- the machinery and equipment manufacturing industry.
The single most important factor in preventing forklift accidents is proper forklift operator training. In many forklift accident situations, the workers who operated forklifts (i.e., forklift drivers) were never trained or never received refresher training.
Related: On The Job Forklift Accidents & Injuries Can Be Prevented
OSHA Forklift Training Requirements
Below are the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements for forklift operator training. In addition, states may impose even stricter workplace safety requirements.
1910.178(l) Operator training.
1910.178(l)(1) Safe operation.
1910.178(l)(1)(i) The employer shall ensure that each powered industrial truck operator is competent to operate a powered industrial truck safely, as demonstrated by the successful completion of the training and evaluation specified in this paragraph (l).
1910.178(l)(1)(ii) Prior to permitting an employee to operate a powered industrial truck (except for training purposes), the employer shall ensure that each operator has successfully completed the training required by this paragraph (l), except as permitted by paragraph (l)(5).
1910.178(l)(2) Training program implementation.
1910.178(l)(2)(i) Trainees may operate a powered industrial truck only:
1910.178(l)(2)(i)(A) Under the direct supervision of persons who have the knowledge, training, and experience to train operators and evaluate their competence; and
1910.178(l)(2)(i)(B) Where such operation does not endanger the trainee or other employees.
1910.178(l)(2)(ii) Training shall consist of a combination of formal instruction (e.g., lecture, discussion, interactive computer learning, video tape, written material), practical training (demonstrations performed by the trainer and practical exercises performed by the trainee), and evaluation of the operator’s performance in the workplace.
1910.178(l)(2)(iii) All operator training and evaluation shall be conducted by persons who have the knowledge, training, and experience to train powered industrial truck operators and evaluate their competence.
1910.178(l)(3) Training program content. Powered industrial truck operators shall receive initial training in the following topics, except in topics which the employer can demonstrate are not applicable to safe operation of the truck in the employer’s workplace. Click here for the specific topics: truck-related topics (1910.178(l)(3)(i)) and work-related topics (1910.178(l)(3)(ii)).
1910.178(l)(4) Refresher training and evaluation.
1910.178(l)(4)(i) Refresher training, including an evaluation of the effectiveness of that training, shall be conducted as required by paragraph (l)(4)(ii) to ensure that the operator has the knowledge and skills needed to operate the powered industrial truck safely. Click here for the refresher training requirements (1910.178(l)(4)(ii)).
1910.178(l)(5) Avoidance of duplicative training. If an operator has previously received training in a topic specified in paragraph (l)(3) of this section, and such training is appropriate to the truck and working conditions encountered, additional training in that topic is not required if the operator has been evaluated and found competent to operate the truck safely.
1910.178(l)(6) Certification. The employer shall certify that each operator has been trained and evaluated as required by this paragraph (l). The certification shall include the name of the operator, the date of the training, the date of the evaluation, and the identity of the person(s) performing the training or evaluation.
1910.178(l)(7) Dates. The employer shall ensure that operators of powered industrial trucks are trained, as appropriate, by the dates shown in the following table. [*Table omitted]
Prevention of Forklift Accidents – The Importance of Refresher Training
Practically all forklift accidents are 100% preventable. Forklift operators must not only receive the proper initial training, but must also receive refresher training under certain circumstances, such as:
- when the forklift operator engages in unsafe conduct,
- when the forklift operator is involved in a forklift accident or a near-miss accident, or
- when the forklift operator is assigned to a different forklift.
In addition, forklift operators must be evaluated at least every 3 years. The problem is, however, that employers often fail to require refresher training, even when mandated by OSHA. For example, a forklift operator has a near-miss, and almost hits a worker. However, the employer fails to require refresher training. Months later, the same forklift operator strikes a worker, killing him. In this instance, the fatal forklift accident may have been prevented by proper refresher training.
Related: Workplace Accident Safety – Forklift Operation & Visibility
Forklift Accident Lawyers
Our forklift accident lawyers are licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Illinois and West Virginia, and also accept matters in other states on a case by case basis. If you would like a free case assessment, please call Click To Call. Our lawyers may handle your case by obtaining special admission in your state or may work with local counsel in your area.
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