Operator Pre-Use Requirements for Mobile Equipment

Regulations across North America reflect the minimum requirements, within each state or province, to ensure safety in the workplace. This article will clarify the requirements of mandatory equipment inspections, as there is so much confusion of the interpretation (whether from a regulatory officer, employers, supervisors, etc.).

Equipment inspections are no longer referred to as “Pre-Shift Inspections”, as they are now referred to as “Pre-Operational Inspections”. As the new name states, an inspection is required prior to the operation of the mobile equipment; whether a forklift, aerial lift or a loader.

Throughout North America, the operator is directly responsible for the safe operation of mobile equipment. Therefore, in order for the operator to verify that the equipment is safe to operate, he or she must inspect the equipment thoroughly. For due diligence purposes, the inspection should be documented to prove to regulatory officers and court officials that it was indeed conducted. In the court of law, if it was not documented, then it never was conducted.NA-Forklift-Supervisor

In a multi-operator facility, each operator would be required to conduct a pre-operational inspection and must document the inspection. If your company only has one operator on the shift, then technically only one inspection would be mandatory to document. We always recommend looking around the unit, looking for any leaks or damages that was not apparent during the first inspection.

For some companies, this additional time required for each operator to inspect the unit can amount to a great loss of time (and money) in a shift. On the other hand, let’s look at the costs of using improperly maintained units, not conducting pre-operational inspections and the cost of litigation. In the event of an accident or a fatality, the costs associated can be in the millions, if the operator or the equipment is at fault. Regulatory officers can fine a company several thousand dollars to several hundred thousand dollars and in the court of law, fines can be well into the millions depending on the incident that occurred. In the event of a fatality, companies may have to stop operation altogether, until the full investigation is completed, which can be a couple of days or weeks.

The following are excerpts from regulations and standards as indicated:

  • ANSI – 5.5.1 – “At the beginning of each shift and before operating the truck, check its condition, giving special attention to…”
  • CSA – 4.9.1 – “At the beginning of each shift and before operating the truck, a preoperation inspection shall be performed…”
  • OSHA 1910.178 – Subpart N – Section Q#7 – “Industrial trucks shall be examined before being placed in service…”
  • WorkSafeBC 16.34 – “The operator must inspect the equipment before the start of operation on the shift and thereafter as required to ensure the safe operating condition of the equipment”.
  • WorkSafeBC 16.5 –  “The operator of the mobile equipment must operate the equipment safely, maintain full control of the equipment, and comply with the laws governing the operation of the equipment”.

Therefore, as you can see, a pre-operational inspection is mandatory to conduct and it is the operator’s responsibility to conduct the inspection and the supervisor’s responsibility to ensure that it was conducted.

To download the NIS Equipment Inspection Form, please click here.