Forklifts, Transportation

OSHA Proposes Powered Industrial Truck Rule Updates

On February 15, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a notice of proposed rulemaking to update the agency’s powered industrial trucks regulations to reflect current industry practice and state-of-the-art technology (87 Federal Register (FR) 8755).

The proposal would update design and manufacturing requirements for powered industrial trucks, including fork trucks, tractors, platform lift trucks, motorized hand trucks, and other specialized industrial trucks, which are powered by an electric motor or an internal combustion engine. The proposal would also update requirements for equipment used in both construction and general industry.

Comments on the proposal are due May 17.

Proposed updates to the general industry and construction standards would add references in the rules to the latest equipment design and construction requirements published by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), along with the Industrial Truck Standards Development Foundation.

OSHA’s first standard for powered industrial trucks—based on industry consensus standards in 1969 (ANSI B56.1)—took effect in 1971, but the national consensus standards have been updated several times since then. ANSI has updated the B56.1 standard 12 times—in 1975, 1983, 1988, 1993, 2000, 2004, 2005, 2009, 2012, 2016, 2018, and 2020.

OSHA would incorporate by reference the latest ANSI B56 consensus standards.

The powered industrial trucks proposal is part of a series of regulatory projects the agency has undertaken to update nearly 200 agency standards to reflect the current versions of international consensus and national industry standards.

In addition to updating the design and construction requirements for powered industrial trucks manufactured in the future, the proposed rule would also address requirements for equipment manufactured before the final rule’s effective date.

Additionally, the proposal would allow employers to use powered industrial trucks manufactured before the final rule’s effective date as long as the employers can demonstrate that the design and construction of the trucks are at least as protective as equipment designed and made under ANSI B56.1.

OSHA has used a similar approach in other standards. For example, under several protective equipment standards, employers must ensure that the protective devices meet the construction requirements of one or more ANSI standards incorporated by reference or show that the devices are at least as protective as devices made in accordance with the ANSI standards referenced in OSHA’s standards.

The proposal also would add a provision that would allow employers to use powered industrial trucks manufactured on or after the effective date of the final rule if they can demonstrate that the design and construction of the trucks are at least as protective as powered industrial trucks that are designed and constructed in accordance with the applicable ANSI B56 standard.

OSHA acknowledged that ANSI continues to update its B56 standards regularly, and it is difficult for the agency to provide timely corresponding updates in its regulatory standards through the notice and comment rulemaking process.

The agency recognized it is likely that OSHA standards will require compliance with an outdated ANSI standard while industrial truck manufacturers are designing and making equipment under the newest ANSI standard or, possibly, other new non-ANSI consensus standards.

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