What does it take to operate a lift truck safely and legally? Can any employer simply add a lift truck to a materials handling workplace with no experience, no license, and no official authorization of any kind? Can an employee step behind the controls of a lift truck with no special training or certification? And just as important, can any functional lift truck be used in any workplace with no specific requirements regarding maintenance or inspection?

Some employers would prefer “yes” answers to all of these questions, since limited lift truck regulations would reduce time and cost. But the restrictions placed on lift truck operation and maintenance are designed to keep both employees and products safe, and to protect the Canadian workplaces from expensive damage and devastating accidents and injuries.

But in order to comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the Regulation for Industrial Establishments (also called Regulation 851), company operators must take action and pay close attention to the following areas:

  • Safety inspections and maintenance
  • Load-handling capacity assessments
  • Assessor competency
  • Inspection frequency
  • Maintenance and inspection records
  • Correct operating procedures
  • Operator competence
  • Operator training

Since some employers may have questions about the legal definition of a “lift truck” or a piece of equipment that must adhere to OHSA and other regulatory requirements, the text of Regulation 851 makes this clear. A powered lift truck is defined as “a mobile, power-propelled, self-loading truck equipped with a load carriage and attachments for lifting, transporting and stacking material.”

For any powered lift truck, each of the areas attention listed above will require an understanding of clause 25 of OHSA, and Appendix I and II of Regulation 851. Clause 25 outlines the employers responsibilities regarding worker protection, which include everything required to maintain a safe lifting fleet in acceptable operating condition. The clause also addresses all requirements related to worker training and supervision.

Regulation 851 clarifies the terms, definitions, and types of equipment that are subject to these training, supervision, and maintenance rules.

Before allowing any employee to operate any form of lifting equipment, employers should review these regulations on the Ontario Ministry of Labor website and contact the Ministry with specific questions. Meanwhile, employers can reach out to the equipment and training experts at Liftow for additional guidance.