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Powered Industrial Trucks, General Industry – Regulation 29 CFR 1910.178

Ranking: 7

A Workplace Story

From a NIOSH In-house FACE Report:

A 16-year-old part-time worker died when the forklift he was operating tipped over during a turn occurring as the truck was going from a paved alley onto a gravel surface. The worker, who was not wearing the forklift’s seat belt, either jumped or was thrown from the operator’s seat and was pinned to the ground by the overhead guard. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

An investigation determined that the company had an unwritten safety policy and that orientations for newly hired employees included training in the company’s hazard communication program, company history, general safety rules, use of protective equipment and procedures for reporting unsafe conditions and injuries. The victim had been hired 6 weeks before the incident to work part-time after school hours. He had received orientation on his first day of work, along with a hard hat and safety glasses. Although he was not assigned to operate the forklift, he had used it occasionally within the warehouse to move materials while cleaning. This was the company’s first fatality.

NIOSH investigators concluded that, to help prevent similar occurrences, employers should ensure that:

  • forklifts are operated only by employees trained to use safe operating procedures
  • seatbelts should be worn by operators of sit-down forklifts
  • employers comply with child labor laws, which prohibit people under 18 years of age from operating powered industrial trucks.

The Numbers

Enforcement from October 2019 through September 2020

Total citations: 1,516

Total inspections: 1,037

Total proposed penalties: $4,009,343

Industries most often violating the powered industrial trucks standard:

Manufacturing (part 3 of 3): $721,508

Manufacturing (part 2 of 3): $585,418

Wholesale Trade: $541,125

Construction: $541,125

Transportation and Warehousing (2 of 2): $493,593

Retail Trade (part 1 of 2): $277,339

Transportation and Warehousing (1 of 2): $235,654

Manufacturing (part 1 of 3): $219,964

Retail Trade (part 2 of 2): $84,233

Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services: $183,128

Other Services (except Public Administration): $31,631


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The hazards commonly associated with powered industrial trucks vary depending on the vehicle type and the workplace where the truck is used. Each type of truck presents different operating hazards. For example, a sit-down, counterbalanced high lift rider truck is more likely than a motorized hand truck to be involved in a falling load accident, because the sit-down rider truck can lift a load much higher than a hand truck. Workplace conditions also present different hazards. For example, retail establishments often face greater challenges than other worksites in maintaining pedestrian safety.

The best way to protect employees from injury also depends on the type of truck operated and worksite where it is being used.

Determining the best way to protect workers from injury largely depends on the type of truck operated and the worksite where it is being used. Employers must 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 29 CFR 1910.178(l)(1).

In terms of forklifts, safely operating the vehicles requires preparation, anticipation and careful attention in order to maintain control of the vehicle at all times.

Pre-operation safety: Inspect and maintain the forklift before use. A vehicle that is in need of repair, defective or in any way unsafe should be removed from service. The problem should be recorded on a log and reported to a supervisor immediately.

Traveling and maneuvering: Use good operating practices to prevent accidents. Operators must always maintain control of the forklift, keep a proper lookout and operate the forklift at speeds safe for the particular operation and worksite conditions.

Load handling: Identify the hazards and recommended practices for each step in the load handling process, including:

  • Load composition
  • Safe handling preparation
  • Approaching
  • Mast position
  • Fork position
  • Lifting the load
  • Lowering the load
  • High tiering
  • Truck trailers and railroad cars


Among the requirements of the powered industrial truck standard:

  • All new powered industrial trucks acquired and used by an employer shall meet the design and construction requirements for powered industrial trucks established in the “American National Standard for Powered Industrial Trucks, Part II, ANSI B56.1-1969,” which is incorporated by reference as specified in §1910.6, except for vehicles intended primarily for earth moving or over-the-road hauling.
  • Approved trucks shall bear a label or some other identifying mark indicating approval by the testing laboratory. See paragraph (a)(7) of this section and paragraph 405 of “American National Standard for Powered Industrial Trucks, Part II, ANSI B56.1-1969”, which is incorporated by reference in paragraph (a)(2) of this section and which provides that if the powered industrial truck is accepted by a nationally recognized testing laboratory it should be so marked.
  • Modifications and additions which affect capacity and safe operation shall not be performed by the customer or user without manufacturers prior written approval. Capacity, operation and maintenance instruction plates, tags or decals shall be changed accordingly.
  • The atmosphere or location shall have been classified as to whether it is hazardous or nonhazardous prior to the consideration of industrial trucks being used therein and the type of industrial truck required shall be as provided in paragraph (d) of this section for such location.
  • Power-operated industrial trucks shall not be used in atmospheres containing hazardous concentrations of metal dust, including aluminum, magnesium and their commercial alloys, other metals of similarly hazardous characteristics, or in atmospheres containing carbon black, coal or coke dust except approved power-operated industrial trucks designated as EX may be used in such atmospheres.
  • In atmospheres where dust of magnesium, aluminum or aluminum bronze may be present, fuses, switches, motor controllers and circuit breakers of trucks shall have enclosures specifically approved for such locations.
  • 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). WMHS

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