All powered industrial trucks (PITs) shall be operated and maintained in accordance with this policy.

Back to top


This policy applies to all PITs and provides guidance on the safe operation of propane, gasoline, and electric battery powered forklifts and power lifts.

Back to top

Authority and Responsibility

Environmental Health and Safety is responsible for:

  • Reviewing the PIT policy to assure compliance;
  • Reviewing and updating the training program on an annual basis;
  • Coordinating and providing training of supervisors who will be responsible for conducting practical exercises;
  • Auditing PIT inspection process on a monthly basis; and
  • Maintaining training records of all operators.

Departmental supervisors are responsible for:

  • Ensuring employees attend training and operate PITs in a safe manner;
  • Conducting practical exercises for employees;
  • Ensuring all equipment is in proper working condition;
  • Assuring operators perform appropriate pre-operation safety inspections prior to operating equipment;
  • Scheduling maintenance by outside contractors; and
  • Maintaining required documentation.

Employees are responsible for complying with this policy.

Back to top

General Requirements

PIT Equipment Registration 

Upon the purchase of any powered industrial truck (PIT) equipment, the department manager/supervisor shall perform the following before the equipment is used on campus: 

Notification to EHS should include: 

  • Main storage location (building/room);
  • Department name;
  • Make, model, and serial number of the equipment;
  • Department contact person responsible for the equipment;
  • Picture of the equipment; and
  • Name and email for each PIT users.

Ensure that the operating and maintenance manuals for the powered industrial truck (PIT) equipment have been received. The operator's manual should remain with the PIT. 

General requirements for PITs are as follows:

  • Only trained and authorized operators 18 years of age and older shall be permitted to operate a PIT;
  • The employee is responsible for ensuring the safe operation of the PIT;
  • Modifications and additions that affect capacity and the safe operation of the PIT shall not be performed by the University of Chicago without the manufacturer’s prior written approval. Upon approval, the rated capacity, operation and maintenance instruction plates, tags, or decals shall be modified accordingly;
  • If the PIT is equipped with front-end attachments other than factory installed attachments, the PIT shall be marked to identify the attachments and show the approximate weight of the truck and attachment combination at maximum elevation with load laterally centered;
  • Nameplates, ID plates, and markings shall be in place and maintained in a legible condition; and
  • All University of Chicago PITs are used in unclassified locations according to 29 CFR 1910.178 Table N-1. If a location is re-classified as hazardous, 29 CFR 1910.178(c) shall be consulted in order to determine the appropriate type of PIT to be utilized.

Back to top

Pre-Operation Safety Inspection

Prior to operating a PIT, the employee shall perform a pre-operation safety inspection using the provided Daily Inspection Checklist(Powered Industrial Trucks Inspection Checklist):

  • This inspection shall be made once per shift before use;
  • When PITs are used on a round-the-clock basis, they shall be examined after each shift;
  • The inspection shall identify any conditions that could affect the safe operation of the PIT;
  • If any condition(s) exist, the PIT shall be removed from service and tagged “Out of Service” until the proper repairs or concerns are addressed;
  • Immediately notify your supervisor of any safety concerns so arrangements can be made for the repairs; and
  • Only outside contractors qualified to repair PITs shall perform repairs and adjustments.

Environmental Health and Safety shall audit all inspection processes on a monthly basis. Upon discovery of deficiencies, Environmental Health and Safety will provide training and guidance for proper inspection form completion. If the deficiencies persist Environmental Health and Safety will contact the responsible supervisor and the keys to PITs can be confiscated by Environmental Health and Safety for any PIT without completed inspection checklists.

Back to top

Fuel Handling and Storage

The handling and storage of liquid fuels such as gasoline shall be in accordance with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code (NFPA 30).

The handling and storage of liquefied petroleum gas fuel shall be in accordance with the Storage and Handling of Liquefied Petroleum Gases Code (NFPA 58).

The following procedures shall be followed:

  • When refueling or recharging the batteries of a PIT, the operator shall ensure that the PIT is shut off and the parking brake is engaged;
  • Refueling and recharging shall be completed in areas that are designated and well ventilated;
  • Personal protective equipment (approved face shield, goggles, gloves) shall be worn during all refueling and battery recharging operations;
  • An emergency eyewash/shower station shall be present in the area;
  • Smoking shall be prohibited in refueling and recharging areas. Fuel vapors and gases, which can escape from the battery and fuel vents, are extremely flammable;
  • Tools and other metallic objects shall be kept away from the top of uncovered batteries; and
  • An ABC rated fire extinguisher shall be present in all refueling or recharging areas.

Back to top

Workplace Hazards

Many hazards exist in the workplace that are easily detectable if a quick survey of the area is conducted. These hazards include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Overhead obstructions such as fire protection sprinkler piping, ventilation ducts, lighting fixtures, and power lines. If the load you are moving is carried too high or the PIT mast is raised too high, damage can occur to the overhead obstruction and possibly cause injury to the operator or people in the immediate area;
  • Co-workers or pedestrians traveling to and from certain areas within the facility;
  • Poor housekeeping such as debris left on the floor and wet floors;
  • Poor condition of the floor surface such as uneven concrete, potholes, and cracks;
  • Poor visibility around corners. The operator’s view from a PIT can be blocked or obstructed by the load. If there is not a clear view, drive in reverse or have a co-worker act as a “spotter” and direct you;
  • Operating a PIT in a confined area with poor ventilation can result in accumulated PIT exhaust gases. This creates a hazard not only for the forklift operator, but also for others within the area or building. Environmental Health and Safety shall be contacted to determine air quality if concerns should arise;
  • Operator eyeglasses may steam up when entering a warm atmosphere from a cold atmosphere (i.e. driving into a building from the outside); and
  • Driving too fast for the conditions of the area. When operating a PIT, always remain alert and cautious.

It is imperative that the PIT operator note the existing and potential hazards and conditions that do, or could, exist in the work environment. Whenever a hazard is discovered which requires remediation such as housekeeping, poor floor condition, or poor ventilation, immediately notify your supervisor to ensure the proper procedures are followed to address the hazards.

Back to top

Operating Procedures

When operating a PIT, always travel with the forks approximately four inches from the ground so they clear any uneven surfaces. Always survey the area ahead and to the sides as you travel. Always travel in reverse or use a “spotter” when the load you are carrying obstructs your view.

Some factors that could cause the PIT to tip over:

  • Overloads;
  • Unstable loads;
  • Load not centered on forks;
  • Traveling with the load raised;
  • Sudden stops and starts;
  • Making sharp turns; and
  • Traveling across a ramp or incline.

Safety Practices

The following safety practices shall be adhered to at all times:

  • Wear seat belts whenever the PIT is equipped with them;
  • Keep all body parts inside the driver’s compartment;
  • Drive at appropriate speeds;
  • Do not carry passengers on the PIT;
  • No person shall be permitted to stand or pass under elevated portions of any PIT, whether loaded or empty;
  • All PIT operators working on platforms that are six feet above a lower level shall wear appropriate fall protection devices;
  • When traveling behind other PITs or vehicles, always maintain at least three forklift lengths from the vehicle or PIT ahead, and maintain control of the PIT at all times;
  • Slowly approach ramps and inclines straight, not at an angle;
  • Never turn the PIT while on a ramp or incline;
  • When parking a PIT and prior to dismounting or leaving the unit, shut off the power. The operator shall never leave a running PIT unattended;
  • When the PIT is left unattended, the load shall be fully lowered, controls shall be neutralized, power shut off, brakes set, and wheels blocked if PIT is parked on an incline;
  • Never park a PIT in front of fire protection equipment, emergency exits, or in a manner that would obstruct a person from exiting the area;
  • If, at any time during operation, a PIT is found to be in need of repair, defective, or in any way unsafe, it shall be immediately removed from service. The department supervisor shall be notified so he or she can arrange for repairs;
  • Refueling and recharging areas equipped with emergency eyewash stations shall be inspected on a weekly basis and documented; and
  • Only loads within the rated capacity of the PIT shall be handled. Loads shall be stable or safely arranged before being handled.

Back to top


University employees designated to operate a University owned PIT shall be required to participate in and successfully complete a PIT training program offered through Environmental Health and Safety to ensure the operator is competent to operate a PIT safely before assuming their responsibilities.

Training consists of a combination of formal instruction and practical training. Formal instruction includes an internet based lecture, knowledge assessment, and written material handouts. Practical training includes demonstrations performed by either the supervisor, a third part vendor, or an Environmental Health and Safety Specialist, practical exercises performed by the trainee, and evaluation of the operator’s performance in the workplace.

Trainees may operate a PIT only:

  • Under the direct supervision of persons who have the knowledge, training, and experience to train operators and evaluate their competence; and
  • Where such operation does not endanger the trainee or other employees.


The curriculum of the training program shall, at a minimum, address the following topics:

  • Pre-Operation Safety Inspection;
  • Workplace Hazards;
  • Safe Driving and Operating Procedures;
  • Loading-Carrying-Unloading of Materials; and
  • Operation and Safe Driving Practical.


Employees shall be required to participate in refresher training at least once every three years. Retraining may also be deemed necessary when it has been documented that the operator has been observed to operate the PIT in an unsafe and/or inappropriate manner, involved in an accident or near miss incident, is assigned to drive a different type of PIT, or a condition in the workplace changes in a manner that could affect safe operation of the PIT as directed by this policy and according to OSHA regulations. Curriculum for retraining shall cover the same topics as the initial training.


Environmental Health and Safety shall certify that each operator has been trained and evaluated as required by 29 CFR 1910.178(l).

Back to top

Regulatory Citation

  • 29 CFR 1910.178(c)(l)(table N1) (Subpart A)
  • National Fire Protection Association Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code (NFPA 30)
  • National Fire Protection Association Storage and Handling of Liquefied Petroleum Gases Code (NFPA 58)

Back to top

Guidance Documents

Powered Industrial Trucks Guidance Document

Reviewed: August 2023

Back to top