Skip to content
Home » HR Industry Articles » Creating an OSHA-Compliant Forklift Safety Policy

Creating an OSHA-Compliant Forklift Safety Policy


    Ensuring the safety of forklift operations is a paramount concern for employers. To meet OSHA compliance standards and protect your workforce, it’s crucial to have a comprehensive forklift safety policy in place. This article will outline the essential components of what should be included in an OSHA-compliant forklift safety policy.

    The Legal Foundation

    OSHA Regulations

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established strict guidelines for forklift safety. It is imperative for employers to understand and adhere to these regulations to prevent accidents and maintain legal compliance. Key OSHA regulations include:

    • 29 CFR 1910.178: This regulation outlines general industry standards for forklift operations, covering areas such as training, maintenance, and safe operation.
    • 29 CFR 1926.602(d): In the construction industry, forklift safety is governed by this regulation, which mandates compliance with the same general industry standards.
    • 29 CFR 1910.178(l): This section of the standard addresses requirements for refueling and charging of forklifts, a critical aspect of safety.

    ANSI/ITSDF B56.1 Standard

    Another important source of guidelines for forklift safety is the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and Industrial Truck Standards Development Foundation (ITSDF) B56.1 standard. Employers should familiarize themselves with this standard, which offers additional insights into forklift safety.

    Essential Components of an OSHA-Compliant Forklift Safety Policy

    A Clear Policy Statement

    An OSHA-compliant forklift safety policy should start with a clear and concise statement that emphasizes the organization’s commitment to safety. It should be prominently displayed and readily accessible to all employees.

    Roles and Responsibilities

    Training and Certification

    1. Forklift Operators: Specify the training and certification requirements for forklift operators. Ensure that only certified individuals operate forklifts, as mandated by OSHA regulations.
    2. Supervisors: Describe the responsibilities of supervisors in monitoring and enforcing safe forklift practices. They should be trained to recognize unsafe behavior and take corrective action.
    3. Safety Coordinators: Appoint a safety coordinator who is responsible for overseeing the forklift safety program, conducting regular inspections, and reporting any issues.

    Safe Operating Procedures

    Clearly define safe operating procedures in your policy. These should include:

    • Pre-Operation Checks: Detail the pre-operation checks that operators must perform, such as inspecting brakes, steering, tires, and other critical components.
    • Load Handling: Provide guidelines on how to safely handle loads, including information on load capacity, weight distribution, and stacking.
    • Speed Limits: Specify maximum allowable speeds within the workplace to prevent accidents and collisions.
    • Pedestrian Safety: Address the safety of pedestrians working in the vicinity of forklifts. Implement clear pathways and pedestrian walkways.

    Maintenance and Inspection

    Meticulous maintenance and regular inspections are essential to prevent accidents. Your policy should cover:

    • Maintenance Schedule: Establish a maintenance schedule for forklifts, which adheres to OSHA regulations and manufacturer recommendations.
    • Inspection Records: Maintain records of inspections and repairs. These records should be readily available for OSHA inspections.
    • Proactive Maintenance: Encourage operators to report any issues they encounter promptly, emphasizing the importance of proactive maintenance.

    Emergency Response

    Provide guidance on how to respond to accidents, including:

    • Reporting Accidents: Require immediate reporting of accidents and near misses, emphasizing the importance of accurate and timely reporting.
    • First Aid and Medical Assistance: Detail the availability of first aid resources and the procedures for obtaining medical assistance in case of an accident.
    • Incident Investigation: Define a process for investigating accidents to identify root causes and prevent recurrences.

    Training and Certification

    Thorough forklift operator training is a cornerstone of safety. Your policy should include:

    • Initial Training: Specify the content and duration of initial training, ensuring it covers all aspects of safe forklift operation.
    • Refresher Training: Outline the frequency and content of refresher training, as required by OSHA regulations.
    • Certification Process: Describe the certification process, including written and practical evaluations.
    • Documentation: Stress the importance of maintaining comprehensive training records.

    Safe Fueling and Charging

    Compliance with OSHA’s regulations on fueling and charging forklifts is crucial. Address:

    • Designated Areas: Specify designated areas for refueling and charging, ensuring proper ventilation and fire protection measures.
    • Training: Ensure that only trained personnel are responsible for fueling and charging operations.

    Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

    Incorporate PPE requirements into your policy, in accordance with OSHA standards:

    • Helmets: Mandate the use of helmets to protect operators from falling objects.
    • Safety Shoes: Require safety shoes with toe protection to prevent foot injuries.
    • High-Visibility Clothing: Emphasize the importance of high-visibility clothing in areas with forklift traffic.

    Reporting and Correcting Hazards

    Establish a procedure for reporting and correcting hazards:

    • Hazard Identification: Encourage employees to identify and report hazards promptly.
    • Responsibility: Assign responsibility for hazard correction and establish reasonable timelines for resolution.

    Documentation and Records

    Your policy should mandate the creation and maintenance of various records:

    • Training Records: Maintain records of training, certifications, and refresher courses.
    • Inspection Records: Keep detailed records of equipment inspections, maintenance, and repairs.
    • Accident Reports: Document all accidents, near misses, and incident investigations.

    Compliance and Enforcement

    Emphasize the consequences of non-compliance:

    • Disciplinary Measures: Detail disciplinary measures for violations of safety policies, including suspension or termination if necessary.
    • Incentives: Encourage adherence to safety policies through rewards and incentives for safe behavior.


    An OSHA-compliant forklift safety policy is not just a legal requirement; it is a fundamental tool for ensuring the safety of your workforce. By incorporating the key components outlined in this article, backed by OSHA regulations and ANSI/ITSDF B56.1 standards, you can create a robust forklift safety policy that mitigates risks and promotes a culture of safety within your organization. Remember that regular updates and continuous training are essential to maintain compliance and protect your employees from potential hazards.

    Note: Information found on this site is information only and is not intended to be used as legal advice. Please consult your attorney or counsel for specific legal information.