• Issued: July 1999
  • Content last reviewed: June 2009

Section 51 of Regulation 851 has two requirements for competency that relate to powered lift trucks (see Appendix I). Clause 51(2)(a) requires the truck operator to be a competent person and, under clause 51(1)(b), the examination of the lift truck's load-handling capability is to be carried out by a competent person. The regulation does not say specifically how these requirements are to be satisfied. However, there is a definition under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), part of which requires a "competent person" to have "knowledge, training, and experience to organize the work and its performance". Any person having the knowledge and skills listed below, for maintenance technicians and truck operators, should meet this requirement.

Competence of Maintenance Technicians

The knowledge and skills listed below should be considered as the minimum qualifications for a maintenance technician to be competent to service a lift truck. But what may be more important is that the technician is familiar with the various types and styles of powered lift trucks (see Appendix II) and, knowing how a particular truck is likely to be used, is able to apply the listed knowledge and skills in determining if there are any limitations or restricted applications pertaining to that use. In hiring someone to service a truck the owner/employer should therefore ensure that the person to be employed has actually had experience with the truck to be serviced.

The Ministry considers the following qualifications necessary for a person to be competent to service a powered lift truck in accordance with the legal requirements.

  • knowledge of personal safety practices necessary to perform routine and periodic inspections of powered lift trucks in current use;
  • familiarity with industry terminology and the terms used in this Guideline and any documents referenced by this Guideline;
  • ability to read and understand powered-lift-truck manuals, manufacturer's specifications, drawings and parts lists;
  • knowledge of the purpose and function of all components, devices and accessories commonly employed on powered lift trucks, and how to carry out an inspection to determine that they are functioning properly;
  • working knowledge of electrical and electronic control circuit principles, as applied to the operation of pumps, motors, valves and switches, and hydraulic principles, as applied to the operation of valves, pumps, cylinders (plungers) and piping;
  • working knowledge of mechanical principles as applied to structures, machines, mechanisms and the effects of traction on chains and sheaves; and
  • where applicable, working knowledge of pneumatic principles as applied to the operation of valves, compressors, cylinders (plungers), pressure vessels and piping.

These qualifications would normally be achieved through five years experience in field service work for users, manufacturers, distributors or service organizations for powered lift trucks.

Competence of Operators

Competent lift truck operators must know not only how to operate the particular class of truck to which they have been assigned but also be aware of hazards associated with the work they have been asked to do; they must be able to operate the truck in a manner that protects both their own safety and the safety of others in the their workplace. It is the responsibility of the employer to establish a worker's competence to operate a powered lift truck.

A "competent" operator should understand:

  • the sections of the OHSA and regulations applicable to the work;
  • the hazards associated with the work, including the principles of operation and features of the lift truck, workplace conditions and environment, and activities that pose actual or potential danger to health and safety in the workplace;
  • the manufacturer's specifications as they relate to the safe operation and load handling for the class or type of truck that is to be operated; and
  • the workplace-specific procedures and practices that have been established for ensuring worker safety.

A "competent" operator should be able to perform, with the truck to be operated and under typical workplace conditions, the following procedures in a manner consistent with established competence standards:

  • pre-operational check;
  • start-up and shut-down;
  • general operation: stopping, starting, turning, driving forward and in reverse, parking, operating around personnel;
  • load handling: selection and security of loads, pick-up and placement, personnel lifting, stacking and restocking;
  • loading and unloading: transport vehicles, structures, elevators; and
  • operational maintenance: refuelling, recharging (where appropriate).

The employer should be satisfied that the truck operator has demonstrated the foregoing skills to a person with expert knowledge on the safe operation of powered lift trucks. A safety association (see Appendix V) or the lift truck manufacturer may be contacted for information on institutions, agencies or persons with expert knowledge of lift trucks.

Employers should maintain in the workplace a record of workers competent to operate powered lift trucks. For each worker, the record should indicate the skills and knowledge successfully demonstrated, the class or classes of truck on which he or she was assessed, the name and affiliation of the assessor and the date the assessment was done. Employers may issue certificates to facilitate identification of competent operators.

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