The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) developed standards that employees operating a forklift and their employers must follow under federal and state law. The types of training a forklift operator receives, the places he or she may operate and the type of machinery the forklift operator may use are all regulated by OSHA compliance. Those who violate OSHA compliance do not only face being cited, but put employees, pedestrians and others in harm of being injured or killed.
Employers under OSHA law must certify all employees who will be operating a forklift, prior to working. An employee must be trained before receiving certification. Any employer that does not train an employee can be cited. The forklift training should include operating instructions, warnings and precautions. Although OSHA does not regulate who can provide the forklift training, an employer should ensure all training is provided by someone who has the knowledge, training and experience to train employees who will be operating the forklift.
Under OSHA law, the forklift must be inspected each day and also prior to each operator's shift. If the forklift does not pass inspection, the forklift may not be used until it has received maintenance and passed the inspection. OSHA requires the technicians who maintain the forklifts to be qualified and licensed in this area.
To keep the workplace safe, there are regulations for how the forklift may be operated. With traffic, the forklift operator must slow down, stop and sound the horn at all intersections or whenever the driver's view is hindered. The forklift operator cannot allow anyone to stand or pass underneath the load or lifting mechanism of the forklift. OSHA does not permit forklift operators to carry passengers in the forklift with them, unless authorised. The forklift operator must remain a safe clearance from co-workers at all times.
Employers should be warned when hiring youth to operate forklifts. The Fair Labor Standard Act does not permit workers under the age of 18 to use or operate a forklift for non-agricultural operations. This is considered an occupational health hazard, and the law was established to help prevent the number of teen fatalities that occur each year.
Forklift laws do not prohibit a person who cannot read from working as a forklift operator. This is a misconception. When the employee is being trained and evaluated, the trainer and employer can make the decision to allow the employee to operate the forklift if he or she has the knowledge and skills to perform the job. However, training this type of employee may be tougher because the employee will need to be taught what cannot be read in the operator's manual.