Be Persistent With PIV Safety
EP Editorial Staff | March 1, 2022
By Cory Moore, CSST, NRP
Powered industrial vehicles (PIV) are essential warehouse tools. Most important, they prevent countless injuries by greatly reducing physical strain caused by repetitive lifting. While the cost savings are evident, training and upkeep of the equipment needs to be in place as they are closely monitored by OSHA under requirements set in 1910.178.
All employers using PIVs are required to have a three-part program that includes a formal classroom, practical training, and equipment evaluation. Another OSHA requirement calls for re-training or re-evaluation on a three-year interval with intermittent training as deemed necessary due to environment changes, operational issues, or if the company chooses to exceed the stated requirements on a more frequent basis.
Operators tend to think of PIVs as machinery that picks up and moves things, instead of as vehicles. Usually, operating speeds aren’t nearly as fast as a car or truck. However, within confined areas such as a warehouse or dock, relatively fast-moving PIVs can still create issues, especially when dealing with pedestrians or static items.
PIVs are usually smaller than most vehicles, they steer differently, are heavier, have dynamic stability changes, and are narrower. These traits allow them to be operated easily within warehouses and on a variety of surfaces (rough terrain), based on the type of unit being operated. The added weight of the unit results in notable forward momentum during sudden stops and turns. Also, if the payload is liquid, the sloshing effects add to that momentum. Longitudinal stability can also be greatly affected on any unit that lifts above ground level and even more so on units that shift or tilt the forks.
A good training program requires an instructor who can demonstrate proper operation and then spend time with the new operator as they develop their skills. Once the candidate and trainer feel comfortable with basic initial operation, the student moves into the operating environment. The trainer should also periodically assess all operators during a typical work period to identify any at-risk operational behaviors and quickly correct them to prevent unsafe events.
A key facet of any forklift operation is carrying out required inspections. Often these get “pencil whipped” to save time. This is one of the most cited infractions by OSHA with regards to forklifts. It usually takes very little time to perform a thorough inspection. Required inspection items can all affect operator safety.
Though forklifts are relatively small, their added weight and operation in congested areas increases the potential for incidents to occur. Good practices must be followed, a proper educational program needs to be in place, and continuous evaluation used to maintain safe operation. EP
Cory Moore, CSST, NRP, is a Safety Advisor at Safety Management Group, Indianapolis, IN (safetymanagementgroup.com). With almost 30 yr. in the industry, he has worked around the world in various industries as a safety professional, most notably with the petroleum and drilling sectors as a Construction Site Safety Technician and paramedic. Moore is an OSHA 10/30 instructor and PIV trainer. Contact him at email@example.com.