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ESH Manual Page: 7000: Occupational Safety

Forklifts, tow-motors and other powered material handling equipment are used throughout the Sanford Underground Research Facility to perform a variety of functions.   Equipment of this type is often grouped together under the title “powered industrial trucks.”  The operation, inspection, maintenance, and testing of powered industrial trucks and associated equipment shall be in accordance with mandatory standards and other requirements of this chapter. 


This chapter applies to any powered industrial trucks (PITs) used at Sanford Laboratory. PITs are any designed to move, lift, carry, stack, push, and pull a load. This includes locomotives, forklifts, electric pallet movers, and walk-behinds with elevating mechanisms.  PIT’s may be electrically-powered, gasoline-powered, LP- gas-powered, or diesel. See ASME B56.1 for information on all the types of truck configurations. Some of the standards directly applicable to the use of PITS are found in:

  • 29 CFR 1910, Subpart N, OSHA General Industry Standards, Materials Handling and Storage
  • 29 CFR 1926.602 (c), (d) – Material Handling Equipment
  • ASME B56.1 - Safety Standard for Low Lift and High Lift Trucks 

3.1.  All Department Directors shall:

  • Implement the requirements associated with the use of powered industrial trucks.
  • Ensure that only properly trained and authorized operators use powered industrial trucks.
  • Appoint Operator Evaluators for powered industrial trucks they own.
  • Ensure that inspections are performed for the powered industrial trucks they operate.
  • Arrange for the review of Attachment Engineering Notes by qualified persons or committee.
  • Keep a file of all Engineering Notes (if required) for attachments used in their departments.

3.2 The Operations Department shall:

  • Be responsible for the maintenance, repair, and upkeep of all powered industrial trucks.
  • Keep maintenance records for all powered industrial trucks owned and operated by Sanford Laboratory. 

3.3 The EHS Department shall:

  • Maintain the lesson plan and training materials for the class-room phase of the operator training.
  • Maintain documentation of all classroom training, on-the-job training and evaluations.
  • Audit compliance with the requirements of this program. 

Attachments – A device added to the PIT, designed and built by the user, purchased from a commercial supplier, or provided by the manufacturer of the PIT, other than the conventional forks, and intended to carry the load. Examples include non-conventional forks, fork extensions, extension booms, non-conventional or special or unique load handlers, rotating devices, side
shifters, load stabilizers and jib crane booms. A removable attachment is an attachment that can be mounted on the forks, or in place of the forks on the carriage, by means of such conventional fasteners as bolts, pins, etc., and does not require the disassembly of any other portion of the lifting system to install or remove.

Bulldozing - The action that results when an operator would have one pallet on the forks, then use the load to push other pallets ahead of the truck. Bulldozing may also involve having two pallets arranged vertically on the forks plus pushing up to six pallets (single or double stacked) out in front of the truck.

Electric pallet truck - An electrically-powered pallet truck.

Employee - For the purpose of this chapter, includes Sanford Laboratory direct hired personnel, term and temporary employees and contract technicians.

Forklift truck - A self-loading truck equipped with load carriage and forks for transporting and tiering loads. There are eleven truck designations that are applicable: D, DS, DY, E, ES, EE, EX, G, GS, LP and LPS.

Free Rigging – The direct attachment to or placement of rigging equipment (slings, shackles, rings, etc) onto the tines of a P.I.T. for a below-the-tines lift. This type of lift does not use an approved lifting attachment.

Non-employee - This category defines contractors, subcontractors, users, experimenters, graduate students, experimental collaborators, visiting or guest scientists and engineers.  

Operator Evaluator – Individual assigned by the responsible department to evaluate the performance phase of an operator’s training.

Pallet truck - A self-loading, low lift truck equipped with wheeled forks of dimensions to go between the top and bottom boards of a double-faced pallet and having wheels capable of lowering into spaces between the bottom boards so as to raise the pallet off the floor for transporting. 

Powered Industrial Trucks (PIT) - Equipment designed to move, lift, carry, stack, push, and pull a load. This includes locomotives, forklifts, electric pallet movers, and walk-behinds with elevating mechanisms.  PIT’s may be electrically-powered, gasoline-powered, LP- gas-powered, or diesel. See ASME B56.1 for information on all the types of truck configurations.

Qualified Operator - An individual deemed competent by management after successfully completing the Training and Qualification requirements of this chapter. 

Qualified Person - A person who, by possession of a recognized degree in an applicable field or a certificate of professional standing, or who by extensive knowledge, training, and experience, has successfully demonstrated the ability to solve or resolve problems relating to the subject matter and work. 

Split-forking - The action that results when the operator moves two palletized loads by inserting one fork in each pallet. 

Tractors - An industrial tractor, tugger or locomotive designed exclusively for towing a trailer or other load on wheels at speeds of 5 mph or less. Generically used brand names jeep, towmotor and donkey are often used to describe these vehicles. The tractor may be hitched to a load at either end, if two appropriate hitches are provided by the manufacturer or user. A locomotive may have rail cars hitched at both ends at once. Farm tractors in agricultural service, lawn mowing tractors, and licensed road-going tractors are excluded from this definition. 


5.1 Employee - Operator training and qualification shall include those requirements identified in regulatory standards (29CFR1910.178).  In addition, the prospective powered industrial truck operator must hold a valid U.S. driver’s license. 

5.2 Non-employee - Qualification of non-employees requesting to operate powered industrial trucks owned by Sanford Laboratory shall be made by a qualified Operator Evaluator of the department responsible for the equipment to be operated. In all cases, where previous training and experience is used as the basis for accepting qualification, such training and experience shall be certified in writing by the employer as meeting the requirements of 29CFR1910.178. When there are special hazards/features associated with a particular piece of equipment, e.g., unfamiliar controls or modifications to the original design, a qualified department Operator Evaluator will determine whether the operator(s) (including professional contract operators and contract riggers) shall receive documented job instructional training from Sanford Laboratory supervisory personnel.  In addition, the prospective powered industrial truck operator must hold a valid U.S. drivers license.

 In the case of contractor personnel, follow the procedures under the section “Loaning of Powered Industrial Trucks.”

5.3 Qualification Training - Qualification training shall include both a classroom and a performance phase. Demonstration of the operator's abilities to perform all activities expected or anticipated for the job will be part of the qualification process during the performance phase.

The performance evaluation must be conducted in the environment, or one similar, to where the PIT is to be operated.

A designated department Operator Evaluator shall observe such demonstrations and document the performance results on the “Sanford Laboratory – Forklift Operator Evaluation Form” (see attached).  A record of this training shall be maintained in the training database.  Operator qualification is for a period of three (3) years unless withdrawn within that period by the operator’s supervisor.  Re-qualification training will include both a classroom phase and a performance phase. 

5.4 Certification records - Training records certifying operator qualification shall include the name of the trainee, date of training, and the signature of the trainer or evaluator.

5.5 Remedial training - Remedial training will be provided to individuals who do not successfully pass the qualification course.  The course instructor or Operator Evaluator will determine the level of remedial training required. Remedial training will be provided also to operators involved in an accident, a near-miss incident, or who are observed operating a forklift in an unsafe manner.  The operator’s supervisor will determine the level of remedial training needed under these circumstances. 


6.1 Daily Pre-use Inspections - A safety inspection shall be completed for each powered industrial truck and any attachment prior to the start of each shift, or prior to the first use of the day for equipment not in continuous service. A qualified operator shall conduct the inspection, and preferably one that is familiar with the specific equipment.  Daily pre-use inspections are required to be documented.  Each operator must perform their own pre-use inspection.  If the unit is provided with a pre-use inspection log book, fill out the pre-use inspection, return the white copy to your supervisor, and leave the yellow copy in the book.  If there is no pre-use inspection log book, document completion of a pre-use inspection on your 5-point card or other paper that can be returned to your supervisor. 

 Daily inspections are not required for equipment that is not in service.  Prior to being placed back into service, the daily inspection shall be completed by a qualified operator.

Defects on any equipment, machinery, and tools that affect safety shall be corrected in a timely manner to prevent the creation of a hazard to persons.  When defects make continued operation hazardous to persons, the defective items including self-propelled mobile equipment shall be taken out of service and placed in a designated area posted for that purpose, or a tag or other effective method of marking the defective items shall be used to prohibit further use until the defects are corrected.

6.2 Preventative Maintenance Inspection – A documented inspection shall occur at least every six months as part of the Preventative Maintenance and Repair program described in this chapter. 

 6.3 Attachment Periodic Inspection – A documented, annual inspection.  Inspection frequency may be modified if so specified in the engineering note. 


7.1 Scope

All PIT attachments used at Sanford Laboratory shall meet the requirements of this chapter.

PIT attachments provided and used by outside contractors in execution of their contract work are outside the scope of the following engineering note procedure but must adhere to the balance of this chapter.

7.2 Engineering Note Procedure

7.2.1. Engineering Notes:  An Engineering Note shall be prepared by a qualified person for each PIT attachments used at Sanford Laboratory (irrespective of who owns it)unless it was purchased from a reputable manufacturer, was constructed to meet applicable codes, has not been modified in any manner, and is used in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.  The minimum format for the Engineering Note is shown in the appendix of this chapter.

a. Engineering Notes for all attachments shall include: 

  • Attachment unique identifier.
  • Identification of PIT(s) or class of PIT(s) for which it is designed.
  • Allowable operating parameters: load rating, operation envelope, etc.
  • Operating instructions, if required for safe operation.
  • Inspection frequency and criteria. 

b. Engineering Notes for attachments designed at Sanford Laboratory or other non-commercial institutions (such as Universities or other Laboratories) shall include design compliance calculations to verify that the attachment meets, as a minimum, the requirements of ASME B56.1 and 29 CFR 1910, as well as demonstrating a safety factor greater than or equal to 3 on yield strength for all load bearing components.

 c. Modifications to PIT attachments (whether designed at Sanford Laboratory or other non-commercial institutions such as Universities or other Laboratories or purchased from a commercial source engaged in the manufacturing of lifting fixtures) shall be documented in the Engineering Notes.

 d. Load tests shall be documented in the Engineering Note.

 7.2.2. Review of Engineering Notes:  All PIT attachment Engineering Notes shall be reviewed by a qualified person for compliance with the requirements of this chapter.

 7.2.3. Amendment of Engineering Notes:  All subsequent changes in usage that could affect the safety of personnel or the capability of performance of the attachment shall require an amendment to the original Engineering Note.  This amendment shall be reviewed in the same manner as the original note.

 7.2.4. Similar Attachments:  Attachments that are manufactured or fabricated to meet previously engineered, fabricated and reviewed attachments need not have the full engineering analysis repeated.  Documentation shall be provided by reference to an existing approved Engineering Note and the detailing of all differences.  A load test shall still be required. 

7.3 Attachment Load Test

  1. Any PIT attachments not purchased from a commercial manufacturer shall be acceptance load tested prior to initial use. The load rating should not be more than 80% of the maximum load utilized during the test. The test shall be documented in the Engineering Note including signature of the qualified person overseeing the test.
  2. Commercially manufactured PIT attachments do not need to be load tested unless the attachment has been altered, repaired, or modified.  In this case a qualified person must be consulted.

7.4 Attachment Inspections

All attachments used in the course of operating a powered industrial truck must be inspected periodically and used in accordance with ASME B56.1 and the manufacturer’s requirements and recommendations.  Inspection frequency shall be determined by the engineer and/or user-based on the service.  Minimum inspection criteria shall incorporate the items as noted in this chapter and ASME B56.1. At a minimum, each attachment will be inspected visually before each use.  Each department shall document the periodic inspections using the forms provided at the end of this chapter as an example. 


Powered Industrial trucks shall only be used in the environment, atmospheres and surfaces for which they are designated by the manufacturer for use.  Note: See 29 CFR 1910.178(c). 

8.1 Installation of Operator Restraint Systems (Seat Belts) - All powered industrial trucks with seats shall be fitted with seatbelts. Those PIT’s for which retrofit kits are not available are exempt from this requirement. Department directors shall notify the EHS Department of any powered industrial truck that cannot be retrofitted.  

8.2 Use of Seat Belts - Seat belt use is mandatory at all times when the operator is seated on the truck and the truck is equipped with seat belts. Notify the building manager if seatbelts were installed but are missing and tag the truck “Out of Service” until seat belts can be installed.

 8.3 Prohibited and Restricted Work Practices: 

  • The practice of split-forking is prohibited.
  • The practice of bulldozing is prohibited unless specifically authorized in writing by the line manager. Only stable or safely arranged loads shall be handled. Caution shall be exercised when handling off-center loads which cannot be centered.
  • The use of a spinner knob on the steering wheel is not allowed except on stand-up rider trucks where steering is designed to be accomplished with one hand and a steering wheel is used or, if the powered industrial truck is equipped with an anti-kickback device on the steering mechanism. The operator must exercise caution when using a spinner knob to avoid over-controlling the vehicle that would cause the vehicle to tip over.
  • Free rigging is prohibited unless specifically authorized in writing by the line manager and after a Job Hazard Analysis has been performed.

PIT Nameplate(s) and Marking - Every truck shall have a durable, corrosion-resistant nameplate, legibly inscribed with the following information: truck model, serial number, truck weight and designation of compliance with the mandatory requirements of ASME B56.1, Safety Standard for Low and High Lift Trucks, applicable to the manufacturer and rated capacity.  

8.4 Control of Access to Powered Industrial Trucks - Means shall be provided to prevent forklifts, tow-motors, and other powered industrial trucks from use by unqualified personnel (e.g., restricting access, locking operating controls, removing ignition keys, posting each truck with a sign that states: “Trained Personnel Only” or other appropriate measures).  This is the responsibility of the department who owns the equipment.

 8.5 Damage to Powered Industrial Trucks - When a powered industrial truck is damaged in an accident, it will be tagged and locked “out of service” by the department responsible for the truck.  Owners will investigate and document incidents resulting in damage to a powered industrial truck. Do not return to service until repaired and, if applicable, until acceptance testing has been completed (See Acceptance Testing paragraph above).


Frequency of preventive maintenance inspections, other than semi-annual, will be determined by the powered industrial truck owner based on use.


At times it may be necessary to drive a powered industrial truck on public roads. These are slow moving vehicles that may introduce a collision hazard because of their slow speeds. A powered industrial truck equipped with a rotating yellow light or yellow strobe light and an operating horn does not need an escort as long as the rotating yellow light or yellow strobe and the horn are in working condition and the lights turned ON.  A powered industrial truck without a yellow strobe or rotating beacon requires an escort when transiting.