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Hit the books!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Some of you may have played this game as a kid. You have a number of people in a room, the first one starts with a short story and whispers it in the ear of the next person, that person remembers what he/she can and passes it along. The last person says aloud their version of the story and then the first person says the original version.

This usually gets a big laugh because of the big difference from start to end. This is similar to what I see happen in the forklift safety and training sector at times. It is certainly hard to keep all the many standards and rules straight and that goes for any country. In the U.S., we have the OSHA standard, numerous letters of interpretation and a variety of compliance directives from the federal government. There is also quite a few ANSI, also now listed as ITSDF standards, as well as, industry accepted or best practices.

On top of that, most large companies also have their own policies which usually go above and beyond government mandated practices. Each year I usually have at least a few times where I get asked questions I should probably know but am not 100% sure. In these cases, I must go back and do my research versus just giving my best guess.

Too many times I have heard people, which should know better, giving a customer an answer that is not correct, but stating it with such confidence that the person takes it as fact.

People need to learn to question even “experts” by doing their research.

Below are several questions which I would challenge you to answer by first guessing and check them against the answer key. These questions are taken from the OSHA forklift standard here in the U.S., but the same type of test could be done in any country with likely the same results.

Obviously any company can go above and beyond a standard, but it is always good to know the starting point from where you came when dealing with an enforcement agency such as OSHA or in a court of law. The answers do not reflect my opinions; they are simply what the standard states.

If you want to save time finding the answers, use the edit and find functions in your browser with a keyword from the question, it will work much faster than reading the whole standard when looking for something very specific. I urge you not to “trust me” but to “hit the books” on OSHA’s website under 29CFR1910.178.

OSHA forklift knowledge test

1) OSHA’s forklift law (29CFR1910.178) says the following about “seatbelts:”

A) Seatbelts are mandatory on every forklift in the U.S.
B) The word “seatbelt” is not mentioned in the standard, but is covered in several OSHA letters of interpretation.
C) It clearly states “they shall be worn at all times with no exception.”
D) They must be worn, but only during certain hazardous operations, such as on ramps or during trailer loading.

2) Modifications, such as adding additional counterweight or adding an attachment shall not be performed unless:

A) You have written approval from the manufacturer.
B) The salesperson from the forklift dealership says it is “OK.”
C) You are sure the modification will not endanger anyone.
D) You get the change approved by OSHA.

3) OSHA requires refresher training every three years?


4) If you have off center loads that can’t be centered, OSHA says you must not handle those loads with a forklift.


5) OSHA forbids driving on wet or slippery floors with a forklift.


6) Forklift operators must stop and sound the horn at cross aisles or where vision is obstructed.


7) When operators leave a forklift unattended it must have the key taken out, the brakes set, the controls neutralized and the forks fully lowered.



1) B
2) A
3) FALSE - They require a re-evaluation every three years, refresher training is something different.
4) FALSE - They say you must use caution handling them.
5) FALSE - They say you must slow down.
6) FALSE - They say you must slow.
7) FALSE - The power must be off, but the key does not have to be removed.

How well did you score?
How sure of your answers were you, enough to advise someone on them?

If you were surprised, then you understand the point I was trying to make.

Written by Brian Colburn of Forklift Training Systems, a leading provider of forklift safety training and materials. Forklift Training Systems can be contacted at 614-583-5749 or at Visit them on the web at