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Powered Industrial Trucks Fact Sheet


Powered industrial trucks, commonly referred to as forklifts or lift trucks, are involved in many incidents where workers are killed and numerous others seriously injured each year in the United States. Unit overturns are the leading cause of fatalities involving forklifts. Additionally, other worker injuries were caused by forklifts, powered pallet jacks and other lift trucks that drove off loading docks, struck foot/fingers, crushed workers and falls while on elevated pallets. Most incidents also involve property damage, including damage to overhead sprinklers, racking, pipes, walls, and machinery. Most employee injuries and property damage can be attributed to lack of safe operating procedures, lack of safety-rule enforcement, and insufficient or inadequate training.

Applicable Regulations

Summary of Requirements

This regulation refers to the safety requirements relating to fire protection, design, maintenance, and use of fork trucks, tractors, platform lift trucks, motorized hand trucks, and other specialized industrial trucks powered by electric motors or internal combustion engines. It does not, however, apply to compressed air or nonflammable compressed gas-operated industrial trucks, farm vehicles, nor to vehicles intended primarily for earth moving or over-the-road hauling.

Powered Industrial Trucks Operation

University of Maryland (UMD) personnel should follow the operators' manuals supplied by equipment manufacturers that describe the safe operation and maintenance of the unit. The safe operation practices will be studied in depth during the specific powered industrial truck safety training classes . Accordingly, some of the OSHA requirements for powered industrial truck operation are:

  • UMD personnel who are not properly trained and certified to operate powered industrial trucks are not permitted to do so until all training requirements are satisfied.
  • No UMD personnel under 18 years of age shall operate power-driven hoisting apparatus such as forklifts.

Powered Industrial Truck Maintenance

OSHA requires that powered industrial trucks be inspected before being placed in service. They shall not be placed in service if the examination shows any condition adversely affecting the safety of the vehicle. Inspections shall be made at least daily. The use of safety and operational checklist is recommended. When powered industrial trucks are used around the clock, they shall be inspected after each shift. When defects are found, they shall be immediately reported and corrected.

More Resources


University of Maryland employees must successfully complete training as required by OSHA prior to operating a powered industrial truck (except for training purposes). The safety training consists of a combination of practical training (demonstrations performed by certified powered industrial truck operators and practical exercises performed by the trainee prior to the formal instruction and evaluation), formal instruction (e.g., lecture, discussion, interactive computer learning, video tape, written material), and evaluation of the trainee's performance in the workplace.

The Department of Environmental Safety, Sustainability and Risk (ESSR) will coordinate the formal instruction and the trainee's evaluation. ESSR will issue an operator's certificate to employees that successfully complete these two components of the training.

Refresher training is required if the operator is observed operating the truck in an unsafe manner; is involved in an accident or near miss; has been determined during an evaluation to need additional training; or is assigned a different type of truck. Evaluations of each operator's performance are required as part of the initial and refresher training, and at least once every three years.

The Powered Industrial Trucks standard requires additional training for forklift operators who change and charge batteries; handle propane tanks, fuel diesel or gasoline engines; and repair and maintain powered industrial trucks.

University Resources

Department of Environmental Safety, Sustainability and Risk
Phone No. (301) 405-3960
ESSR Fax No.     (301) 314-9294
ESSR Website:

Written: 10/05
Last Updated: 12/15

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