Proper forklift inspections are the key to a safe and productive forklift fleet. They also ensure that both operators and pedestrians are working in a safe environment. One component failure on a forklift can result in significant product or facility damage, or even worse, injury or death. This guide is put together with information directly from OSHA, which gives clear guidance on how to thoroughly inspect a lift truck before it is put into service each shift.
29 CFR 1910.178(Q)(7)
OSHA requires that all forklifts be examined at least daily before being placed in service. Forklifts used on a round-the-clock basis must be examined after each shift. [29 CFR 1910.178(q)(7)]
The operator should conduct a pre-start visual check with the key off and then perform an operational check with the engine running. The forklift should not be placed in service if the examinations show that the vehicle may not be safe to operate.
Remember! A vehicle in need of repair, defective or in any way unsafe should not be driven and should be taken out of service immediately. Any problems should be recorded on the appropriate documents and reported to a supervisor.
Before starting your vehicle, conduct a pre-operation (or pre-start) inspection that checks a variety of items, including but not limited to:
- Fluid levels -- oil, water, and hydraulic fluid.
- Leaks, cracks or any other visible defect including hydraulic hoses and mast chains. NOTE: Operators should not place their hands inside the mast. Use a stick or other device to check chain tension.
- Tire condition and pressure including cuts and gouges.
- Condition of the forks, including the top clip retaining pin and heel.
- Load backrest extension.
- Finger guards.
- Safety decals and nameplates. Ensure all warning decals and plates
are in place and legible. Check that information on the nameplate matches the
model and serial numbers and attachments.
- Operator manual. Check that it is both on the truck and legible.
- Operator compartment. Check for grease and debris.
- All safety devices are working properly including the seat belt.
In addition to this general inspection, additional items should be checked depending on the forklift type (electric or internal combustion, including liquid propane).
These include but are not limited to:
- Cables and connectors for frayed or exposed wires
- Battery restraints
- Electrolyte levels
- Hood latch
Note: Always use personal protective equipment such as a face shield, rubber apron, and rubber gloves when checking electrolyte.
INTERNAL COMBUSTION FORKLIFTS
- Engine oil
- Brake reservoir
- Engine coolant
- Air filter
- Belts and hoses
- Hood latch
- Liquid Propane Forklifts
- Properly mounted tank
- Pressure relief valve pointing up
- Hose and connectors
- Tank restraint brackets
- Tank for dents and cracks
- Tank fits within profile of truck
Note: Always use personal protective equipment such as a face shield, long sleeves, and gauntlet gloves when checking liquid propane tanks and fittings.
After completing the pre-operation inspection, operators should conduct an operational inspection with the engine running. This inspection includes:
- Accelerator linkage
- Inch control (if equipped)
- Drive control: forward and reverse
- Tilt control: forward and back
- Hoist and lowering control
- Attachment control
- Back-up alarm (if equipped)
- Hour meter
REQUIREMENTS AND RECOMMENDED PRACTICES
The OSHA powered industrial truck standard [29 CFR 1910.178] lists a number of conditions under which a forklift must be removed from service. If the operator notes these conditions while driving, the operator must stop, park the vehicle and get assistance.
- Any powered industrial truck not in safe operating condition shall be removed from service. All repairs shall be made by authorized personnel. [29 CFR 1910.178(q)(1)]
- Defects must be immediately reported and corrected. [29 CFR 1910.178(q)(7)]
- Any vehicle that emits hazardous sparks or flames from the exhaust system shall be immediately removed from service, and not returned to service until the cause for the emission of such sparks and flames has been eliminated. [29 CFR 1910.178(q)(8)]
- 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 not returned to service until the cause for such overheating has been eliminated. [29 CFR 1910.178(q)(9)]
- No truck shall be operated with a leak in the fuel system until the leak has been corrected. [29 CFR 1910.178(p)(4)]
Remember, it may seem time consuming to thoroughly inspect your lift trucks each shift. But the facts show that a forklift fleet that is routinely inspected and serviced properly is more productive, reduces accidents and maintenance costs and improves the bottom line of your company over the long haul.
For more on OSHA's regulations like how often forklift operator evaluations are required visit our other OSHA blog posts.