243 FW 4
Powered Industrial Trucks

Supersedes 243 FW 4, 12/21/2012

Date: February 10, 2016

Series: Occupational Safety and Health

Part 243: Motor Vehicle and Equipment Operator Program

Originating Office: Division of Safety and Health



PDF Version




4.1 What is the purpose of this chapter?


A. This chapter describes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) 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? Yes. All PITs must have manufacturer-approved seat belts (i.e., an operator restraint system). If a PIT doesn’t have a seat belt, we must install a manufacturer-approved operator restraint system or take the machine out of service. The Regional Safety Manager and the Assistant Regional Director for the program in question (or his/her designee) must approve any request for an exemption from this requirement.


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 Standards Institute (ANSI)/Industrial Truck Standards Development Foundation (ITSDF) B56 Standards, unless operating conditions won’t allow it.


B. Forklifts must have a vertical load back rest extension manufactured in accordance with the ANSI/ITSDF B56 Standards 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 platform is:


(a) Equipped with standard guardrails or something equivalent to guardrails,


(b) Firmly secured to the lifting carriage or forks, and


(c) Used with a personal fall protection system that meets the ANSI Z359 Standards.          


(2) The hydraulic system is designed so that the lift mechanism will not drop faster than 135 feet per minute if any part of the system fails.


(3) An operator attends the lift equipment while workers are on the platform.


(4) The operator is in the normal operating position while raising or lowering the platform.


(5) The vehicle does not travel from point to point with the work platform elevated more than 4 feet while workers are on the platform. If necessary, the operator can inch the platform forward while it is occupied and raised above 4 feet from the ground, but only if he/she does so at very slow speeds and the occupants are tied off using an approved personal fall protection system (i.e., body harness and lanyard tied to an appropriately rated tie-off point on the work platform).


(6) The area between workers on the platform and the mast is guarded to prevent contact with chains or other shear points.


(7) There is a safe and adequate access/egress method for workers on the work platform.


(8) The manufacturer of the forklift designed it to be used as a lifting platform.


(9) The worker platform is designed to work with the forklift you own. Check with the forklift manufacturer for baskets that you can use on their equipment to lift workers.


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 so 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, vape, or engage other forms of ignition (e.g., using a cell phone) 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, 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 consists 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, Performance, and Management Programs.



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