Operators of rough-terrain telescopic forklifts must be able to assess conditions, maneuver loads, and avoid a range of hazards.

The most common large material handlers on masonry jobsites, telescopic-boom forklifts have become indispensable workhorses, and are safe and very valuable when used properly by trained operators. But they can be extremely hazardous in the hands of the insufficiently trained.

Concerned with these and other hazards, OSHA in December 1998 released regulation 29 CFR 1910.178 (1), which defines training requirements for operators of powered industrial trucks, including rough-terrian (Class 7) variable-reach forklifts. By December 1, 1999, all current forklift operators had to be trained and certified in accordance with the OSHA regulation.

At the beginning of the workday, before starting up the machine, the operator needs to walk around the jobsite to see what conditions will be encountered while moving material. High-voltage overhead power lines are extremely dangerous.

The telescopic handler should be checked for anything that might need to be repaired or replaced. Fluid levels should be checked. To esure maximum visibility, the windows and windshield should be cleaned, and the wipers examined.

To prevent accidents, especially tipovers, it is important for the operator to understand how the basic principles of physics—such as leverage, center of gravity, and momentum—affect the stability of both the telehandler and the load.

Understanding the center-of-gravity concept and other basic scientific principles covered in the training programs will make it easier to complete the following maneuvers safely: driving without a load; picking up a load; driving with a load; placing a load.