Annual Forklift Inspections - the Law

Although forklifts are designed for rugged industrial applications, the stress and strain of regular usage can cause damage in a number of ways. And, while a regular maintenance schedule and daily pre-operation inspections should catch most issues before they become a safety hazard, there's still a possibility that some issues go unnoticed. As such, the Occupational Health and Safety Act mandates that every forklift and lift truck undergo a comprehensive safety inspection at least once per year, regardless of its usage and/or maintenance schedule.

Like other regulations, however, the annual timeframe provided within this document is only meant to serve as a minimal requirement. Specifically, Section 51(1)(b) of Regulation 851 stipulates that a lifting device "be thoroughly examined by a competent person… as often as necessary but not less frequently than recommended by its manufacturer and, in any case, at least once per year." To better understand the implications of this regulation, let's examine its constituent parts:

A Competent Person – the Lift Truck Mechanic

As stated within Section 51(1)(b)(ii), there are a number of specifications that must be met for an individual to qualify as a "competent" forklift mechanic. Nominally gained as a result of 5+ years of experience servicing forklifts and lift trucks, a competent mechanic is defined as follows:

  • knowledge of the personal safety practices as they relate to lift truck inspections familiarity of industry terminology;
  • ability to comprehend user, maintenance and parts manuals;
  • knowledge of the purpose and function of all components, devices and accessories commonly found in lift trucks; and
  • working knowledge of electronic controls, mechanical and pneumatic principles as they relate to lift trucks and forklifts.

Inspection Frequency

As a general rule, the legally mandated annual inspection is based upon 2,000 hours of total use in a single shift operation over a 12 month period. Yet, under more strenuous conditions, lift trucks should be inspected more regularly to ensure their safe operation. For example, if a lift truck is operated more frequently (e.g., in a 2 or 3 shift operation), the frequency of inspections must increase at a corresponding rate. Additional factors that may require more frequent examinations include harsh environmental conditions, including extreme temperatures or corrosive environments.

Employer Responsibilities

Wherever lift trucks are used within the workplace, employers are responsible for establishing appropriate procedures to ensure compliance with OHSA clause 25(1)(b) and subsection 51(1) of Regulation 851. These responsibilities begin with ensuring all lift trucks are examined as often as necessary by a competent individual (as defined by clause 51(2)(a) of Regulation 851) to "determine the safety of the equipment [clause 51(1)(a)] and its capability of handling its maximum rated load."(For an overview of the specific requirements of annual inspection, view the Ministry of Labour's guidelines)

Employers must also maintain a permanent record detailing their safety inspections. These records must record the date of the mandated inspection, the mechanic, whether the equipment was deemed safe to operate and lift its maximum rated load, and list the inspection points covered and subsequent repairs. For assistance with your forklift inspections, service or planned maintenance, contact Lucas Liftruck Services today!

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Martin Parr

we have an old forklift in our boat /fishing club, it is used to lift out engines and driven down the public slipway to launch and recover our boats,the drivers have all had a 2 hours course , from some walk in trainer,and been deemed worthy..the fact is the forklift itself, has not had any sort of test as far as i know, our club seem to think it does NOT NEED ONE ..is this correct

Lucas Liftruck

Hi Martin,
Yes, that's correct. All forklifts must be inspected by a mechanic at least once per year. This is known as an OHSA inspection. Please contact us and we'll book an inspection for you.

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