Revised standards for training forklift operators in the construction industry were published by OSHA in November 1998, ending nearly a decade of work on more detailed training requirements. With an effective date of March 1, 1999, the new standards require compliance by December 1, 1999 for forklift operators hired prior to December 1, 1999, and if hired after December 1, 1999, prior to assigning the employee to operate a forklift.

Under the new standard, the employer must ensure that each “powered industrial truck operator is competent to operate a powered industrial truck safely, as demonstrated by the successful completion of the training and evaluation specified” in the standard. See 29 C.F.R. §§ 1910.178(l) and 1926.602(d). The training regime includes a combination of formal instruction, practical training, and evaluation of the trainee’s performance in the workplace. The standard specifically identifies the “truck-related topics” and “workplace-related topics” that must be covered in the training, and provides information in a non-mandatory Appendix that will assist employers in implementing the training and evaluation requirements. “Refresher training and evaluation” of operators is also required when the operator demonstrates a need for further training and evaluation, is assigned to drive a different type of truck, or a change in conditions at the workplace affect safe operation. Finally, the employer is required to certify that each operator has been trained and evaluated as required by the standard.

OSHA expects a ten percent decline in truck-related fatalities and injuries as a result of this training, and a savings in the direct cost of accidents of in excess of 135 million dollars annually.

Steven K. Metcalf

This Newsletter addresses recent items of interest in various areas pertaining to the construction industry. While the Newsletter may alert you to potential problems or changes in the law, it does not attempt to offer solutions, opinions, or advice concerning specific problems. Such legal advice or opinion can only be given by an attorney after careful consideration of the facts unique to a given situation. Inquiries concerning this Newsletter or its subject matter should be directed to its contributors, Steven K. Metcalf, Esq. at (918) 430-3703 or William H. Spitler, Esq. at (918) 430-3704.

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