Do forklift operators have to wear seat belts? Do forklifts even have to have seat belts? These are questions that all forklift owners have likely asked at some point. With forklifts being used in so many different situations and circumstances, safety laws are very important. Here’s a simple question-and-answer about the basics of forklift seat belt use.
Q: Do forklifts have to have seat belts included when they are manufactured?
A: Essentially, yes. Every truck manufactured after 1992 must include some form of restraining system with the purpose of protecting the operator from falling out of the truck if the truck tips over. A seat belt is one of the cheapest and most effective methods of doing this, so it is the most commonly used restraint system.
Q: What about forklifts manufactured before 1992? Must they be retrofitted with seat belts?
A: Pretty much, yes. By OSHA standards, an employer is required to protect his or her employees from all workplace hazards, and powered industrial trucks like forklifts are widely recognized as workplace hazards. Thus, if an employer has been made aware of this risk and is capable of retrofitting a seat belt (or other restraining system) to his or her truck, it’s essentially a case of negligence if he or she does not do so. OSHA can write up an employer for this.
Q: If the forklift has a seat belt attached, must the operator wear it?
A: Yes. If there is any form of restraining system on the truck (as there should be, post-1992), it must be used while the forklift is in use. This includes seat belts, regardless of how often the operator has to get on and off the forklift.
Q: Who is at fault if an operator doesn’t use a seat belt?
A: It depends. There have been cases of both an employer and an employee being at fault. In the past, employees have gotten fired for ignoring seat belts while operating forklifts. However, employers have also gotten fined for not providing working restraining systems (an obvious offense) or not properly training employees on safety standards. In short, it benefits both employer and employee if everyone makes an effort to stay safe.
Q: What if an operator doesn’t fit in the standard forklift seat belt?
A: Don’t worry. Intella offers seat belt extensions for precisely this reason. Click here for more information.
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