Avoiding three frequently-cited forklift violations

Date Posted: 04/12/2021
Forklift Violations

OSHA’s powered industrial truck standard consistently appears in the top five most-cited general industry regulations. Many of those citations fall into just three categories: training and evaluations, operating unsafe equipment, and capacity plates.


Since forklift training must include an evaluation of competence, unsafe operating habits can result in citations for training. For example, if an OSHA inspector sees an operator raising or lower a load while moving, or driving at excessive speeds, the inspector can cite the employer for inadequate training. Similarly, if the operator cannot answer questions regarding safe operation, the employer could be cited.

OSHA also requires that each operator’s performance be evaluated at least once every three years. This must cover both skills and knowledge, so it must include observing the operator in the work area as well as questioning the operator on safety. These evaluations must be performed by someone who has the knowledge, training, and experience to train operators and evaluate their competence.

Trucks with defects

Operator training must include how to conduct pre-shift inspections. If defects are found, the vehicle must be removed from service. Citations can be issued for seemingly minor issues like a headlight out or a horn not working. Missing these items during a pre-shift inspection (or assuming they are not serious) can result in citations.

Even if a pre-shift inspection finds everything working, something may break during the shift, so operators should watch for failures throughout the shift. If something breaks or fails, the operator must remove the truck from service. Driving a defective vehicle until the end of the shift is not acceptable.

Capacity plates

Every forklift has a plate showing the truck’s carrying capacity along with other information. The OSHA regulation requires that all nameplates and markings be maintained in a legible condition, but after years of use, the plate might become worn or otherwise unreadable.

If the truck uses attachments, the truck manufacturer must approve the attachment, and the capacity plate must be updated to include data for that attachment. OSHA can issue citations for failing to update the plate.

Finally, the operator must be trained to use attachments by someone who has experience using that particular type of attachment. Otherwise, the employer can again be cited for training failures.

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How Safety Management Suite Can Help

A lot of regulations require training, but OSHA only spells out the minimum requirements. Employers may certainly provide training that isn’t required by OSHA, deliver training more frequently than required, or conduct evaluations more frequently than required. Meeting your training goals is easier using the self-paced online training courses in the J. J. Keller SAFETY MANAGEMENT SUITE, which allows you to assign training that employees can complete at their convenience.

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