243 FW 4
Powered Industrial Trucks

Supersedes 243 FW 4, FWM 444, 04/01/04

Date:  December 21, 2012

Series: Occupational Safety and Health

Part 243: Motor Vehicle and Motor Equipment Safety

Originating Office: Division of Safety and Health



PDF Version

4.1 What is the purpose of this chapter?


A. This chapter describes the safety requirements for operation of powered industrial trucks (PIT). PITs are also known as forklifts and lift rider trucks.


B. Use this chapter in conjunction with the other chapters in Part 243.


4.2 What is the scope of this chapter? See 243 FW 1 for information about the applicability of all the chapters in Part 243.


4.3 What governs the use of PITs? Operation and training for PITs must, at a minimum, comply with 321 FW 1 and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards in 29 CFR 1910.178.


4.4 Are seat belts required? All PITs manufactured since 1993 have operator restraint systems (seat belts or other types) that operators must wear at all times when operating PITs. PITs manufactured prior to 1993 must have seat belts installed if an after-market kit is available.


4.5 What are the hazards associated with PITs? Hazards vary for different vehicle types, makes, and models, so the methods for preventing accidents also vary by type. For example, a counterbalanced high lift rider truck is more likely to be involved in a falling load accident than a motorized hand truck because the rider truck can lift a load much higher than a hand truck. PITs are assigned a specific designation indicating in what environments they are designed to operate.


4.6 What are the safety requirements for PITs?


A. High lift rider trucks must be fitted with an overhead guard manufactured in accordance with the American National Standard for Powered Industrial Trucks, Part II, ANSI B56.1-1969, unless operating conditions won’t allow it.


B. Forklifts must have a vertical load back rest extension manufactured in accordance with the American National Standard for Powered Industrial Trucks, if the type of load presents this hazard.


4.7 What are the restrictions on PIT operation?


A. Do not allow unauthorized personnel to ride on a PIT, or anyone to pass under raised loads or forks.


B. Personnel may work from a platform on a PIT only by meeting the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.178(m) and when:


(1) The truck is equipped with vertical only, or vertical and horizontal controls elevatable with the lifting carriage or forks designed for lifting personnel,


(2) The safety platform is firmly secured to the lifting carriage or forks for lifting personnel,


(3) There is a way for the personnel on the platform to shut power off to the truck, 


(4) There is adequate protection from falling objects, and


(5) The PIT’s manufacturer has provided a letter stating that the lift platform is compatible with the PIT model.


C. PIT operators must not operate a PIT in an incompatible environment per the equipment’s assigned designation (e.g., gasoline and diesel powered units must not be operated in certain areas, such as confined spaces, because of the hazard of unburned fuel exhausts).


4.8 What are the training requirements for PIT operators? PIT operators must receive training in accordance with 321 FW 1.


4.9 Where can employees find standards for battery removal, repair, and charging? Whenever removing, repairing, or maintaining a PIT’s battery, adhere to the following OSHA standards:


A. Powered Industrial Trucks, 29 CFR 1910.178(g).


B. Overhead and Gantry Cranes, 29 CFR 1910.179.


C. Personal Protective Equipment, 29 CFR 1910.132.


D. Medical Services and First Aid, 29 CFR 1910.151.


E. Hazardous Locations, 29 CFR 1910.307.


4.10 What are the safety requirements for battery charging areas?


A. Charging areas must be in compliance with 29 CFR 1910.178(g) and applicable requirements of the National Electric Code (including sections 503 and 505). If there’s a conflict between the regulations, the more stringent applies.


B. We prefer acquisition of lift trucks with self-contained “plug-in” recharging systems where there is no need for contact with the battery.


C. Battery charging installations must be located in areas designated for that purpose.


D. Properly position trucks and apply the brakes before attempting to charge batteries.


E. When charging batteries, keep the vent cap in place to avoid electrolyte spray. Make sure that vent caps are functioning. The battery (or compartment) cover(s) must be open to dissipate heat.


F. Do not smoke or engage other forms of ignition (e.g., using a cellphone) in the battery charging area. Designated battery charging areas must be posted with signs stating, “DANGER – NO SMOKING OR IGNITION SOURCES.”


G. Take precautions to prevent open flames, sparks, or electric arc in the battery charging area.


H. Keep tools and other metallic objects away from the top of uncovered batteries.


4.11 What safety/emergency equipment is necessary for PIT operation?


A. The immediate areas where battery charging activity or battery-related corrosive materials (e.g., acids) are stored and used must have suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body.


(1) We recommend that eyewash and shower facilities be connected through permanent plumbing to a potable water source.


(2) The unobstructed travel distance from the eyewash and shower system to the corrosive material usage area must not exceed 100 feet or 10 seconds travel time.


B. There should be a fire extinguisher, or other way to respond to a fire situation, used in conjunction with employee fire extinguisher training, proper maintenance, and monthly inspections (see 29 CFR 1910.157).


4.12 Do employees need to wear personal protective equipment (PPE)?


A. Employees involved in charging or maintaining PIT batteries, including adding acids:


(1) Should review a battery charging Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) to determine the appropriate types of PPE to wear (the Project Leader/supervisor is responsible for developing a JHA (see 240 FW 1), and


(2) Must wear adequate PPE to protect them from injury.


B. In most cases, the PPE ensemble will consist of splash goggles or face shield, or both, an acid-resistant apron, and acid-resistant gloves (see 241 FW 3).



For more information about this policy, contact the Division of Safety and Health. For more information about this Web site, contact Krista Bibb in the Division of Policy and Directives Management.



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