4.26 Powered Industrial Truck (PIT) Operation

Safety, Health, and Environmental Manual


These guidelines provide information needed to comply with the Church standards and best practices on operating powered industrial trucks (PITs) (forklift trucks).

Those who supervise PIT operators should help develop training programs that will help employees safely operate PITs. Instructors experienced and qualified in all PIT operations should be selected to conduct the training. Managers and supervisors should establish a record-keeping system to document that employees have been trained and evaluated to operate PITs. These guidelines will help instructors and supervisors fulfill the training requirements.

4.26.1 Training Requirements

Industry best practices (and U.S. OSHA regulations) require (1) that only trained and authorized operators be permitted to operate PITs and (2) that each employer define methods to train operators to safely operate PITs. Training can be conducted at either the operations site, an off-site location, or at both sites. Training can be conducted by a professional training organization.

Use the following minimum training requirements to make training consistent:

  • Classroom instruction should cover safe PIT operating practices. Review these guidelines with those being trained, and use training resources or vendors to accomplish the training objective.

  • As part of their training, trainees should operate and maneuver the PITs they will use on their jobs. They should use empty pallets or empty containers to practice maneuvering the PIT in typical operating conditions.

  • The instructor should verify the trainee is capable of operating a PIT by watching operating practices.

  • After trainees complete classroom instruction and the instructor is confident they can operate a PIT safely, the instructor should designate the trainees as PIT operators.

The instructor should complete the Powered Industrial Truck (PIT) Training Record (see chapter 7) or equivalent and put a copy in the employee’s personal training records or electronic file. Certification cards signifying that training has been completed may be issued by the organization conducting PIT training.

Provide refresher training in relevant topics for 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 he or she 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 safe operation of the truck.

An evaluation of each PIT operator’s performance must be conducted at least once every three years.

4.26.2 Safety Requirements

PIT operators should follow these safety guidelines when choosing, inspecting, and servicing a PIT:

  • In designated hazardous areas, use only PITs designed and approved for use in hazardous locations.

  • Check fuel, oil, water, horns, and brakes on your PITs at the beginning of each shift to make sure they have been properly serviced and are in proper running condition. A daily inspection checklist should be created based on PIT equipment type and the manufacturer’s recommendations. Repair hydraulic or fuel leaks before using the machine.

  • Service PITs at only authorized locations. Shut off motors before fueling. Immediately clean up any fuel spills.

PIT operators should observe these safety guidelines when driving PITs:

  • Do not use substances or medications (prescription or nonprescription) that may affect your driving.

  • Always wear the installed seat belts.

  • Keep your legs within the PIT when it is moving.

  • Do not allow passengers to ride on a PIT unless it is equipped with seats and seat belts for riders.

  • Do not participate in stunt driving or horseplay with PITs.

  • Protect the safety of pedestrians and workers in their areas of operation. The operator of a PIT is entirely in charge of that PIT and will be held accountable for any injuries caused by poor judgment or neglect of safety precautions.

  • Use general highway driving rules for inside and outside operations: keep to the right, stop at blind intersections, cross railroad tracks at a 45-degree angle, and follow all other highway driving rules.

  • Always give pedestrians the right-of-way.

  • Do not operate PITs at speeds exceeding 10 mph (16 kmph) on roadways outside of buildings and 5 mph (8 kmph) inside buildings or on docks. Special PITs designed for road travel may go faster when not carrying loads. Road conditions, weather, and loads are factors that must be considered to ensure driving at a controlled speed.

  • Drive slowly in wet and slippery conditions, and maintain control over the PIT at all times.

  • Always look in the direction you are moving. PITs may travel backward or forward depending on the situation. PITs should travel in reverse when carrying a load on downgrades. Motorized hand trucks should always travel with the forks downgrade.

  • When turning corners or entering doorways, slow down, sound the horn, and proceed with caution. Watch out for overhead structures or wiring on roads and for lights, pipes, fans, and doorways in buildings and dock areas. Use horns only as warning signals.

  • Do not shift gears for braking; this will cause serious damage to the PIT. Before changing directions, properly brake the PIT using the braking system.

  • If the PIT begins to tip sideways, stay on the PIT. Hold on tight, brace your feet, and lean away from the direction of the tip.

  • Park PITs only in specified areas off the aisles. Put the forks flat on the floor, put the operating levers in neutral, turn off the ignition, and set the hand brake. Do this when the PIT is left unattended. Do not block an emergency exit by parking in front of it.

PIT operators should observe these safety guidelines when lifting or moving a load with the PIT:

  • Know the capacity of the PIT. This information is located on the manufacturer’s nameplate attached to the PIT. Also, be aware of the center of the load and the maximum fork height.

  • If you notice any mechanical difficulties while operating the PIT, stop immediately to prevent further damage and report mechanical failures to your supervisor.

  • Do not move unsafe loads. If you believe a load is too heavy, improperly stacked, or improperly tied down, refuse the load and report the condition to your supervisor.

  • Carry all loads with the channels tipped back.

  • If loads do not have tine channels to secure the load to the forks, tie the load securely to the forks by bands, belts, chains, or other appropriate means approved by supervisors.

  • Depending on the surface, travel with the forks approximately four inches above the floor or road. When traveling with a load, keep the forks close to the floor or road to prevent the load from obstructing your field of vision and to reduce the risk of damage or injury from swaying, bouncing, or falling.

  • When moving a load too high to see over, travel in reverse to get a clear field of vision. When moving extra-wide loads or when your vision is obstructed, use spotters to help you maneuver.

  • Do not leave loads unattended with the forks elevated.

  • Do not push or pull objects with the forks of the PIT. Do not tow other vehicles unless the PIT is approved by supervisors for that purpose.

  • Do not lift anyone or let anyone ride on the forks of the PIT.

  • Do not let anyone stand under loads being hoisted or lowered by the PIT.

  • Do not remove forks from PITs except to install other authorized attachments for handling special jobs.

  • Do not stack empty pallets higher than eye level.

  • Do not use severely broken or damaged pallets.

  • Use only approved safety platforms to lift people to elevated locations. The platform should have guardrails, toeboards, and a rear panel to protect personnel from chains, sprockets, and other mechanical hazards associated with the mast. The platform should be securely attached to the PIT. The platform should be metal, and engineered with a 4:1 safety factor. Remain within 20 feet of controls that are not on the platform.

  • Do not attach slings or lifting pads to overhead guards to lift or tow the PIT.

  • Dock plates should be properly secured before driving on the plate.

  • Before anyone enters a trailer, the wheels should be chocked, the brakes locked, and the trailer attached to a tractor or properly supported by nose-end supports.