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Policy No: 2014
Responsible Office: Safety & Environmental Compliance
Last Review Date: 02/09/2022
Next Required Review: 02/09/2027
Policy No: 2014
Responsible Office: Safety & Environmental Compliance
Last Review Date: 02/09/2022
Next Required Review: 02/09/2027

Forklift Safety

1. Purpose

To provide powered industrial truck operators with proper procedures for use of all powered industrial trucks, including fork trucks, platform lift trucks, motorized hand trucks and lifting gears.

2. Applicability

This policy is applicable to Finance and Administration, Athletics, and USA Health Division employees and contractors that meet the requirements set for the safe use of a forklift.

3. Definitions

Not Applicable.

4. Policy Guidelines

4.1  Training

Training for Powered Industrial Truck (PIT) Operators shall be conducted by a certified instructor. All operational training shall be conducted under close supervision. All training and evaluation must be completed before an operator is in the workplace.

Training consists of a combination of formal instruction, practical training exercised and evaluation of the operator’s performance in the workplace. Refresher training shall be provided to the operator when:

    • The operator has been observed to operate the vehicle in an unsafe manner;
    • The operator has been involved in an accident or near-miss incident;
    • The operator has received an evaluation that reveals that the operator is not operating
      the truck safely;
    • The operator is assigned to drive a different type of truck;
    • A condition in the workplace changes in a manner that could affect the safe operation of the truck;
    • Refresher training will be conducted every three years;

4.2  Operator & Vehicle Information

4.2.1  Only authorized and trained personnel will operate PITs.

4.2.2  All PITs will be equipped with an overhead carriage, fire extinguisher, rotating beacon, face plate, horn, and back-up alarm.

4.2.3  The operator will perform daily pre-inspections.

4.2.4  Any safety defects (such as hydraulic fluid leaks, defective brakes, defective steering, missing face plate, non-working horn, missing fire extinguisher, etc.) will be reported for immediate repair or have the PIT taken out of service.

4.2.5  Operators will follow the proper recharging or refueling safety procedures.

4.2.6  Loads will be tilted back and carried no more than 6 inches from the ground. Loads that restrict the operator’s vision will be transported backwards.

4.2.7  Operator will sound horn and use extreme caution when meeting pedestrians, making turns and cornering.

4.2.8  Passengers may not ride on any portion of a PIT. Only the operator will ride the PITs.

4.2.9  If PITs are used as a man lift, an appropriate man lift platform (cage with standard rails and toe-boards) will be used. Aisle will be maintained free from obstructions, marked and wide enough (six foot minimum) for vehicle operations.

4.2.10  Lift capacity will be marked on all PITs. Operator will assure load does not exceed rated limits.

4.2.11  When unattended, PITs will be turned off, forks lowered to the ground, parking brake applied.

4.2.12  Operators are instructed to report all accidents, regardless of fault and severity to the Department of Safety and Environmental Compliance.

4.3  Changing, Charging & Storing Batteries

4.3.1  Battery charging installations shall be located in well ventilated areas designated for that purpose.

4.3.2  Facilities shall be provided for flushing and neutralizing spilled electrolyte, for fire protection, for protecting charging apparatus from damage by trucks, and for adequate ventilation for dispersal of fumes from gassing batteries.

4.3.3  A carboy tilter or siphon shall be provided for handling electrolyte.

4.1.4  When charging batteries, acid shall be poured into water; water shall not be poured into acid.

4.3.5  Trucks shall be properly positioned and brake applied before attempting to change or charge batteries.

4.3.6  Care shall be taken to assure that vent caps are functioning. The battery (or compartment) cover(s) shall be open to dissipate heat.

4.3.7  Smoking is prohibited in the charging area.

4.3.8  Precautions shall be taken to prevent open flames, sparks or electric arcs in battery charging areas. Storage of combustibles is prohibited in charging locations.

4.3.9  Tools and other metallic objects shall be kept away from the top of uncovered batteries.

4.4  Trucks

4.4.1  The flooring of trucks and trailers shall be checked for breaks and weakness before they are driven onto.

4.4.2  The brakes of highway trucks shall be set and wheel chocks placed under the rear wheels to prevent the trucks from rolling while they are boarded with powered industrial trucks.

4.4.3  Dock plates will be used when loading trucks or trailers. Operators will assure dock plates are in good condition and will store on edge when not in use.

4.5  Operations

4.5.1  If at any time a powered industrial truck is found to be in need of repair, defective, or in any way unsafe, the truck shall be taken out of service until it has been restored to safe operating conditions. Trucks will be tagged to identify safety issues and point of contact for repairs.

4.5.2  Trucks shall not be driven up to anyone standing in front of a bench or other fixed object.

4.5.3  No person shall be allowed to stand or pass under the elevated portion of any truck, whether loaded or empty.

4.5.4  Unauthorized personnel shall not be permitted to ride on powered industrial trucks.

4.5.5  Arms or legs shall not be placed between the uprights of the mast or outside the running lines of the truck.

4.5.6  When a powered industrial truck is left unattended, load engaging means shall be fully lowered, controls shall be neutralized, power shall be shut off, brakes set and keys removed. Wheels shall be blocked if the truck is parked on an incline.

4.5.7  A safe distance shall be maintained from the edge of the ramps or platforms while on any elevated dock, platform or freight car. Trucks shall not be used for opening or closing freight doors.

4.5.8  There shall be sufficient headroom under overhead installations, lights, pipes, sprinkler system, etc.

4.5.9  An overhead guard shall be used as protection against falling objects. It should be noted that an overhead guard is intended to offer protection from the impact of small packages, boxes, bagged material etc., representative of the job application, but not to withstand the impact of a falling capacity load.

4.5.10  A load backrest extension shall be used whenever necessary to minimize the possibility of the load or part of it from falling rearward.

4.5.11  Trucks shall not be parked so as to block fire aisles, access to stairways or fire equipment.

4.6  Traveling

4.6.1  All traffic regulations shall be observed, including authorized speed limits. A safe distance shall be maintained approximately three truck lengths from the truck ahead, and the truck shall be kept under control at all times.

4.6.2  Other trucks traveling in the same direction at intersections, blind spots or other dangerous locations shall not be passed.

4.6.3  The driver shall be required to slow down and sound the horn at cross aisles and other locations where vision is obstructed. If the load being carried obstructs forward view, the driver shall be required to travel with the load trailing.

4.6.4  Railroad tracks shall be crossed diagonally wherever possible. Parking closer than 8 feet from the center of railroad tracks is prohibited.

4.6.5  The driver shall be required to look in the direction of and keep a clear view of path of travel.

4.6.6  Grades shall be ascended or descended slowly. When ascending or descending grades in excess of 10 percent, loaded trucks shall be driven with the load upgrade. On all grades the load and load engaging means shall be tilted back if applicable, and raised only as far as necessary to clear the road surface.

4.6.7  Under all travel conditions the truck shall be operated at a speed that will permit it to be brought to a stop in a safe manner.

4.6.8  Stunt driving and horseplay shall not be permitted.

4.6.9  The driver shall be required to slow down for wet and slippery floors.

4.6.10  Dock board or bridge plates, shall be properly secured before they are driven over. Dock board or bridge plates shall be driven over carefully and slowly and their rated capacity never exceeded.

4.6.11  Running over loose objects on the roadway surface shall be avoided.

4.7  Loading

4.7.1  Only stable or safety arranged loads shall be handled. Caution shall be exercised when handling off-center loads which cannot be centered.

4.7.2  Only loads within the rated capacity of the truck shall be handled.

4.7.3  The long or high (including multiple-tiered) loads which may affect capacity shall be adjusted.

4.7.4  Trucks equipped with attachments shall be operated as partially loaded trucks when not handling a load.

4.7.5  A load engaging means shall be placed under the load as far as possible; the mast shall be carefully tilted backward to stabilize the load.

4.7.6  Extreme care shall be used when tilting the load forward or backward, particularly when high tiering. Tilting forward with load engaging means elevated shall be prohibited except to pick up a load. An elevated load shall not be tilted forward except when the load is in a deposit position over a rack or stack. When stacking or tiering, only enough backward tilt to stabilize the load shall be used.

4.8  Fueling Safety

4.8.1  Fuel tanks shall not be filled while the engine is running. Spillage shall be avoided.

4.8.2  Spillage of oil or fuel shall be carefully washed away or completely evaporated in a well ventilated area and the fuel tank cap replaced before restarting the engine.

4.8.3  No trucks shall be operated with a leak in the fuel system until the leak has been corrected.

4.8.4  Open flames shall not be used for checking electrolyte level in storage batteries or gasoline level in fuel tanks.

4.8.5  Fueling operations shall be located in well ventilated areas designated for that purpose.

4.9  Maintenance of Powered Industrial Trucks 

4.9.1  Any power-operated industrial truck not in safe operating condition shall be removed from service using the lock out –tag out system.

4.9.2  Those repairs to the fuel and ignition systems of industrial trucks which involve fire hazards shall be conducted only in locations designated for such repairs.

4.9.3  Trucks in need of repairs to the electrical system shall have the battery disconnected prior to such repairs.

4.9.4  All parts of any such industrial truck requiring replacement shall be replaced only by parts equivalent as to safety with those used in the original design.

4.9.5  Industrial trucks shall not be altered so that the relative positions of the various parts are different from what they were when originally received from the manufacturer, nor shall they be altered either by the addition of extra parts not provided by the manufacturer or by the elimination of any parts. Additional counter-weighting of fork trucks shall not be done unless approved by the truck manufacturer.

4.9.6  When the temperature of any part of any truck is found to be in excess of its normal operating temperature, thus creating a hazardous condition, the vehicle shall be removed from service and no returned until the cause for such overheating has been eliminated.

4.9.7  Industrial trucks shall be kept in a clean condition, free of lint, excess oil, and grease. Noncombustible agents should be used for cleaning trucks. Low flash point (below 100 deg. F.) solvents should not be used. High flash point (at or above 100 deg. F.) solvents may be used.

4.10  Powered Industrial Truck Pre-Use Checklist

A checklist of the following items (as applicable) is to be conducted by the operator prior to use each shift:

    • Tires
    • Steering mechanism
    • Brakes
    • Hydraulic system
    • Horn
    • Controls
    • Overhead Guard
    • Chains
    • Mast
    • Carriage
    • Attachments
    • Nameplate
    • Fire Extinguisher


Additional items, if applicable:

    • Operating lights; flashing or rotating lights;
    • Clutch or Creeper control;
    • Load backrest extension;
    • Battery connector;
    • Fuel line (for leaks and damage);
    • Exhaust system (for sparks, flame or leaks);
    • Water muffler water level;
    • Directional signals;
    • Back-up alarm;
    • Seat-actuated dead man brake;
    • Safety seat restraint system.

If any deficiencies are noted, the unit is to be placed OUT OF SERVICE until the problem has been corrected. Additionally, it is the operator’s responsibility to notify the immediate supervisor and fill out a maintenance request.

4.11  Safe Operation for Changing LPG Tank

    • No smoking;
    • Move LPG PIT outside for refueling;
    • Turn off PIT.

LPG tanks will be removed in the following order:

    • Shut off service valve;
    • Disconnect tank from hose;
    • Unbuckle and remove tank from bracket.

LPG tanks will be replaced in the following order:

    • Place tanks in bracket and re-buckle;
    • Reconnect hose to tank and tighten firmly;
    • Open valve slowly and assure proper seal.

NOTE: Federal law prohibits dispensing an improper fuel of any type into any vehicle or
into a non-approved fuel container.

4.12  In Case of LPG Leaks or Tank Rupture

    • DO NOT start or move the PIT;
    • If fuel hose is leaking, close the valve immediately and place PIT “Out of Service”
      until repaired;
    • If tank ruptures, warn others, immediately leave the area (at least 50 feet) and
      notify Management;
    • Do not re-enter the area until cleared by Management.

5. Procedures

Not Applicable.

6. Enforcement

This policy is enforced by Safety and Environmental Compliance Department. Non-compliance may result in suspension of associated activities and/or projects. Contractors' failure to comply may require removal from University property and potential ineligibility for future bids. University faculty and staff will be subject to disciplinary action per Faculty Handbook or Staff Employee Handbook, respectively.

7. Related Documents

Not Applicable.