chat icon


Do I Have to Wear A Seatbelt On a Forklift?

Yes, forklift operators should always be wearing a seat belt while driving their machines. Forklift operators are required to wear a seatbelt without exception. Failure to wear a seat belt while using a forklift puts the operator, their coworkers, and bystanders at risk of injury. It could also lead to OSHA fines and penalties.

What is Forklift Safety?

Forklift driver safety is crucial. All forklift drivers should be trained through a forklift safety course. Doing so can minimize accidents and fatalities on the job. It is important to note that, unlike cars, forklift seat belts are not meant to protect drivers from high-speed collisions. Instead, forklift seat belts are intended to protect operators from being crushed in the event that the forklift tips over.

As the forklift begins to tip, it has been found that the operator’s natural urge is to jump out of the forklift. But the only way they can get out is the side that the forklift is tipping over on. The end result is normally the operator being crushed beneath the forklift. Take this case study as an example:

Joe was operating a forklift truck that was used for transporting construction debris and waste material. He drove the forklift loaded with construction material down to the receiving docks. The construction waste materials were being dumped into a metal dumpster on the far side of the basement. Joe extended the mast of his forklift fully in order to dump the waste in the dumpster. When he realized he would need to come in at a different angle, he reversed to the right. The mast hit a sprinkler system pipe that was overhead. The impact caused the forklift to tip over on its right side. While the forklift was falling sideways, Joe jumped towards the right side, onto the pavement. The forklift overhead guard caught Joe and pinned him to the ground. Joe was killed from crushing injuries to the upper chest and neck area.

Unfortunately, accidents like this happen all the time, and most accidents are preventable. If Joe had been wearing his seat belt, he would not have been able to jump out and would not have been crushed under the falling forklift.

Common Causes of Forklift Tipover

There are many factors that can cause a forklift tipover. The most common causes of a tipover happen when the forklift is:

Standards On Wearing Seat Belts

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not have specific standards that require the use of seatbelts, however, they do require employers to protect employees from serious and recognized hazards. When it comes to forklift operators, the best way for employers to ensure employee safety is by requiring them to wear a seatbelt.

OSHA refers to the standards laid out by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) when it comes to the use of an operator restraint system. ASME requires that forklift operators must wear a seat belt while driving, and OSHA enforces it.

If so, OSHA may impose a seatbelt installation requirement. In order to comply with this, the forklift manufacturer must inform the employer that a risk exists.

What if My Forklift Doesn’t Have a Seat Belt?

Most forklifts are manufactured and equipped with a seat belt. However, that standard was not established until 1992. This means that it is possible the forklift you are working on does not have a seat belt or a restraint device system.

What is My Employer Responsible For?

As stated previously, OSHA does not have any standards specifically mentioning seat belts. However, they do require employers to protect their employees from workplace hazards. One of the best ways for employers to protect their employees is by providing them with personal protective equipment (PPE). Seat belts are a form of PPE, and while the forklifts should come equipped with a seatbelt, all other PPE standards and requirements are applicable.

For example, when PPE is in need of being replaced, employers are required to replace it. The same goes for a cut or frayed seat belt that will no longer protect the operator in the event of a tipover. Employers are also responsible for:

OSHA has many different standards and requirements when it comes to PPE. OSHA addressed PPE specifically in their standards for general industry, maritime, and construction. In each standard it states that many of the different categories of PPE should be equivalent to the standards that were developed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

Employee Responsibility

The forklift operators also have responsibilities to fulfill when it comes to wearing their seat belts. For example, they are required to:

The Safety Trainings We Offer

Here at Hard Hat Training, we offer multiple forklift training courses. We also offer these courses in different learning formats. We provide these options for our customers with the hope of providing a learning experience that works best with their company regardless of the number of employees they have or their work schedule. The forklift courses we offer are: