The laws are pretty simple, OSHA requires the installation and use of seat belts on lift trucks, and requires that they be in good condition. You’ll note that this inspection is a critical part of our Preventative Maintenance tech sheet.
Quoting OSHA’s CPL 2-1.28A on forklift training standards:
OSHA’s enforcement policy on the use of seat belts on powered industrial trucks is that employers are obligated to require operators of powered industrial trucks that are equipped with operator restraint devices, including seat belts, to use the devices. CSHOs will enforce the use of such devices under Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act in accordance with the October 9, 1996 Seat Belt Enforcement Memorandum.
You’d think the law however would take less precedent than common sense. In the event of a tip over the driver is taught to brace himself inside the cab, if not belted in this is going to be difficult, and the likelihood of sever injury is huge. Look at this slide presentation of just one incident that resulted in death.
There are a lot of things that good operator training will teach drivers to avoid tip overs, the most common being:
- Severe braking
- No chocks used by a truck at the dock, allowing truck to move
- Tilting the mast forward with a raised load
- Load not positioned against the heel of the fork arms
- Lifting loads with a longer load center than specified on the forklift’s data plate
- Operating on a sloping surface
You’ll of course want to work to minimize these, but most importantly and quite simply make certain seat belts are available, that they are not frayed in any fashion, and that you enforce a strict policy that drivers wear them ANY time they are moving the lift further than the length of the truck. With consequences so high, neither you nor your driver wants to run the risk by tempting fate.
Never mind the fines after an accident, most of us would have a difficult time paying the personal consequences for not preventing tragedy in the first place.