OSHA 1926.602 – Loader Training Requirements
OSHA, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, requires all loader/earthmoving (front-end loader, skid steer loader, loader backhoe and excavator) operators to be trained and certified – qualified – as a competent operator prior to permitting your employee(s) to operate the equipment (with an exception during supervised training).
What is earthmoving equipment? The Occupational Safety and Health Act, 1926.602, covers requirements for earthmoving equipment, which is defined as: scrapers, loaders, crawlers or wheel tractors, bulldozers, off-highway trucks, graders, agricultural and industrial tractors, and similar equipment.
The training requirements are specified in section 1910.178(l) which requires the following components to certify your operator: theory training, practical training, and a driving test. In order to demonstrate that your training and certification was conducted, you may be required to prove to an OSHA safety officer through documentation. Therefore, the entire process must be thoroughly documented. An OSHA safety officer may even speak directly with your operator to gauge the effectiveness of your training – whether internal or external training is conducted.
Theory training can be conducted in the traditional classroom format using physical training material or the theory training can be conducted online through a learning management system. We believe there are benefits in conducting training in either format, though regardless of the method you use, the training should always include site-specific requirements found at your workplace.
Practical training is crucial for beginner operators to be able to gain operational experience under the guidance of a trained and qualified instructor. The duration of practical training is truly unknown as this is dependent on your operator’s ability to safely operate the equipment. For experienced operators, conducting practical training is key in the early detection of bad habits that may have been formed over the past few years.
The driving test (evaluation) is the final component of your certification program where your operator should be conducting real everyday work in the working environment. The evaluation should not be conducted in an empty area as this is likely not the conditions or tasks your operator will be conducting once certified. Your evaluation should also incorporate the different operating conditions within your facility e.g. digging, ramps, grades, indoor/outdoors, trailers, etc.