The typical forklift (classified as a “Powered Industrial Truck” by OSHA), needs several points of attention. First, although OSHA does not specifically state that the operator must keep a written pre-operation inspection log, it is wise to do so. Doing so helps formalize inspections, service and repair and will demonstrate to OSHA that you are indeed inspecting your forklifts.
In brief, the forklift should have operable safety devices such as a horn, warning lights, a back-up beeper, seatbelts and a currently tagged and inspected fire extinguisher on board. Operators must use seatbelts. If the factory belt does not extend far enough to buckle in a portly operator, compliant belt extenders are available. In other words, there is no excuse of a big-around-the-middle forklift operator to not be belted in.
The lifting capacity of the forklift should be noted on the machine – information usually found on the manufacturer’s information plate or tag. But, sometimes this information is missing or illegible – tags are painted over or fall off. One easy fix is to stencil the load capacity to the mast facing the operator – so they will know that information at a glance. Don’t forget to comply with operator certification requirements found here: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/poweredindustrialtrucks/. By the way, it is against the law for anyone younger than 18 years old to operate a forklift/powered industrial truck.