Powered Industrial Trucks

OSHA defines powered industrial trucks (PITs) as “any mobile, power-propelled truck used to carry, push, pull, lift, stack or tier materials.” Regardless of the trade, every construction company uses PITs.

Most people think of PITs as forklifts. Forklifts come in many shapes and sizes, and are all regulated under OSHA’s Powered Industrial Truck Standard, 29 CFR § 1910.178. PITs also include man lifts, scissor lifts, boom lifts and motorized hand trucks. Though this Toolbox Talk will often refer to forklifts, the requirements apply to all PITs.


 The employer must ensure that each PIT operator has had proper training and is competent to operate the truck safely in any environment.

  • Employees must have separate training for each type of PIT they will be operating; however, they do not need separate training to operate the same type of PIT made by a different manufacturer.
  • Employers must develop a written PIT operation training program, and conduct classroom training. They must observe the employee operating the assigned equipment under the physical conditions of their workplace, such as aisles, ramps, loading docks and construction sites.
  • Employers must provide a certificate stating the employee has completed the training.
  • Employees must be retrained and recertified at least every three years, or after an accident or near miss that resulted from an unsafe act.


 OSHA prohibits operating a forklift that is not in safe operating condition. The agency also recommends employers conduct an inspection of each forklift at the beginning of each shift, and following maintenance and accidents. Lift operators should use checklists when conducting an inspection and employers should review completed checklists periodically to ensure employees are utilizing them.

Employers must remove a forklift from service under the following conditions:

  • It is not in safe operating condition (example: controls aren’t operating properly);
  • It emits hazardous sparks or flames from the exhaust system;
  • The temperature of any part of the forklift exceeds the normal operating temperature; or
  • It has a leak in the fuel system.

Violations of the PIT standard are often the basis for an OSHA citation. Failure to follow this standard can expose an employer to potentially broad liability.

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