This month, our fourth step on the path to safety leads us to some of the most indispensible and frequently used pieces of equipment in a warehouse or plant: powered industrial trucks (PITs). These same machines that are so vital to operations also cause thousands of injuries to employees and incidents of property damage. Many employees are injured when PITs are inadvertently driven off loading docks, lifts fall between docks and an unsecured trailer; employees are struck by a lift truck, or when employees fall while on elevated pallets and tines.
Most incidents also involve
property damage, including damage to overhead sprinklers, racking, pipes,
walls, and machinery. Unfortunately,
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. In an effort to
combat the frequency and severity of injuries and the significant monetary
losses in property damage resulting from the use of these machines, OSHA has
issued extensive regulations in 29 CFR 1910.178 relating to the use of PITs.
Powered industrial trucks are
defined as any mobile power-propelled truck used to carry, push, lift, stack or
tier materials. PITs can be ridden or
controlled by a walking operator. OSHA
standards require that only trained and competent operators over the age of 18
may be permitted to operate a PIT.
Employers are required to develop and implement a training program based
on the general principles of safe truck operation, the types of vehicle(s)
being used in the workplace, the hazards of the workplace created by the use of
the vehicle(s), and the general safety requirements of the OSHA standard.
Trained operators must know
how to do the job properly and do it safely, as demonstrated by workplace
evaluation. Formal (lecture, video, etc.) and practical (demonstration and
practical exercises) training must be provided. Employers must also certify
that each operator has received the training as well as evaluate each operator
at least once every three years. Refresher training is required whenever an
operator demonstrates a deficiency in the safe operation of the truck.
The hazards commonly associated with PITs vary
depending on the vehicle type and the workplace where the truck is used. Each type of truck and every work place’s
conditions present different hazards.
OSHA has developed an excellent online e-tool which can be found atwww.OSHA.gov/dcsp/products/etools/pit/index.html. The e-tool provides information on OSHA’s PIT
requirements and industry best practices addressing:
(1)the differing types and
fundamentals of PITs;
(2)the basic operating rules and
safe work practices;
(3)how workplace conditions can affect safe operation; and
(4)operator training required by OSHA.
This e-tool is
not a substitute for a formal training program but will get users on the right
path to safety. Conscientious
implementation of a compliant PIT program will lead your company on the path to
an effective safety program and positively impact your productivity, the health
and well-being of your employees, and a better bottom line.
This article was written in conjunction with
participants in the OSHA and ASA Alliance. It does not necessarily reflect the official
views of OSHA or the U.S. Department of Labor.
more information on this and additional safety topics, visit www.asa.net and click on the Safety
Resources tab. A series of
Tool Box Talks can be found there, as well as links to additional resources to
assist in developing an effective safety program at your company.