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Telescopic handlers

  • Issued: January 18, 2016
  • Content last reviewed: January 2016

Disclaimer: This resource has been prepared to help the workplace parties understand some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and regulations. It is not legal advice. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations. For further information please see full disclaimer.

A telescopic handler or “telehandler” is mobile equipment similar in appearance to a power elevated work platform, a forklift or a mobile crane. It has a single telescopic boom that can extend forwards and upwards from the vehicle. Many are designed to accommodate several interchangeable attachments on the end of the boom, such as a work platform, forks or a winch.

Rotating telescoping handlers are versatile pieces of equipment and able to fulfill the functions of mobile cranes with similar capacity when they are on the “crane mode” carrying out hoisting tasks.

Whether the telescopic handler is used as a crane, power elevated platform or a forklift, its operator must be competent (Construction Projects Regulation, O. Reg. 213/91, s. 96(1)).

If the operator or employer cannot demonstrate that the operator is competent, the inspector may issue orders, including a “stop use order” until the employer provides a competent operator for the piece of equipment being used.

Background information and legal requirements

The Ministry of Labour enforces the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations, which set legal requirements for employers to ensure the protection of workers.

Employers have a duty under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, clause 25(1)(c) to ensure that the measures and procedures prescribed are carried out in the workplace. Clause 25(2)(a) requires the employer to provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect the health or safety of the worker. Clause 25(2)(h) requires the employer to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker.

  • With respect to cranes and similar hoisting devices, section 150 of the Construction Projects Regulation requires certification from the Ontario College of Trades or other training of equipment operators, depending on the rated load-carrying capacity of the equipment.
  • It is the employer’s responsibility to obtain information about the unit they want to use in the workplace, and ensure it complies with all the applicable regulatory requirements, for example:
    1. If the unit has been manufactured to an elevating work platform (EWP) standard or has been identified by the manufacturer’s literature as an EWP, it must be designed, manufactured, tested, inspected and used in compliance with section 144 of O. Reg. 213/91. The maintenance and use of the unit must also comply with sections 145-149 of O. Reg. 213/91.
    2. If the equipment has been designed and constructed to operate as a mobile crane or in a “crane mode,” its rated load-carrying capacity must be determined by the manufacturer or a professional engineer in accordance with the Canadian Standards Association Standard Z150-1974 Safety Code for Mobile Cranes, pursuant to clause 151(2)(a) of O. Reg. 213/91. Use of the equipment as a mobile crane must also comply with all other regulatory requirements in sections 150-156 of O. Reg. 213/91, including the operator’s training and certification requirements in section 150, if applicable.
    3. Telescopic handlers that have been designed and constructed to have a dual purpose, i.e. to operate as an EWP or as a crane, depending on the attachment and the chosen mode of operation, must meet all the regulatory requirements for both EWP and cranes. The operator must be trained in both usages and fulfil all applicable training and certification requirements.
    4. Telescopic handlers must be used in accordance with any operating manuals issued by the manufacturer (O. Reg. 213/91, s. 93(3)).
    5. A signaler must be assigned to assist the operator whenever the operator’s view of the intended path of travel is obstructed or if a person may be endangered by the equipment or its load (O. Reg. 213/91, s. 104(3)).

Please note that this list is not exhaustive and other regulatory requirements must be complied with depending on the work activity being undertaken.

Some applicable regulatory requirements of O. Reg. 213/91 (Construction Projects Regulation) under the OHSA (non exhaustive)

  • Equipment, general requirements: sections 93 to 116.
  • Elevating work platforms requirements: sections 143 to 149.
  • Cranes requirements: sections 150 to 156.
  • Vicinity of approach to overhead power lines: sections 187, 188 and 189.

Construction Program enforcement with respect to telescopic handlers

  • Inspectors may check the manufacturer’s operating manual for a telescopic handler to ensure that it is being used in accordance with the manual (s. 93(3) of O. Reg. 213/91)
  • Depending on the information outlined by the manufacturer, whether the equipment has been designed and built to a crane, elevating work platform, or forklift standard, or a combination thereof, the employer may be required to provide information demonstrating compliance with applicable regulatory requirements pertaining to the type of equipment:
    • Proof that the equipment’s rated load-carrying capacity has been determined by the manufacturer or a professional engineer in accordance with the applicable Canadian Standards Association Standard, when it has been designed and constructed to a mobile crane standard or to fulfill “crane mode” tasks;
    • Certification by a professional engineer that the equipment complies with the applicable National Standards of Canada standard set out in the Table to subsection 144(6) (O. Reg. 213/91, s. 144 (4)), when used as an elevating work platform or in this mode.
  • In those instances where the telescopic handler is versatile and may be used in various modes, such as EWP mode, crane mode, etc., necessary documentation pertaining to each mode of use must be available; the operator must also be competent to handle the various modes of usage, taking into account the maximum capacity that the equipment is capable of handling and the most stringent conditions of its usage.
  • Inspectors may issue an order based on the category or categories of equipment the telehandler is capable of fulfilling as per the manufacturer’s operating manual, should any regulatory requirement under any of the applicable categories not be fulfilled.
  • Inspectors may use their powers under clause 54(1)(f) of the OHSA to require the employer to provide a report by a professional engineer or the manufacturer confirming any detail necessary to ensure the safety of the operator or other persons on the project where the telescopic handler is being used.
  • Inspectors may also require that the workplace not be disturbed for a reasonable period of time for the purposes of carrying out their investigation (clause 54(1)(i) of the OHSA).

Disclaimer: This web resource has been prepared to assist the workplace parties in understanding some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the regulations. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations and reference should always be made to the official version of the legislation.

It is the responsibility of the workplace parties to ensure compliance with the legislation. This web resource does not constitute legal advice. If you require assistance with respect to the interpretation of the legislation and its potential application in specific circumstances, please contact your legal counsel.

While this web resource will also be available to Ministry of Labour inspectors, they will apply and enforce the OHSA and its regulations based on the facts as they may find them in the workplace. This web resource does not affect their enforcement discretion in any way.