In this article, mechanical expert, Matt Lykins, provides an introduction to industrial truck inspection and repair, including some of the relevant standards.
Industrial Truck (Forklift) Maintenance
Most of us have had the dreaded experience where a problem develops with our car, but when we take it in for service the technician cannot repeat the issue. Too often we are sent on our way without resolution, in a questionably safe vehicle. This same issue occurs with forklifts and other industrial trucks. Modern lift trucks are not entirely different from automobiles; they are equipped with sophisticated computer systems, including diagnostic error codes. Service and repair of these vehicles requires a high degree of training and technical expertise.
Our experts are often retained in cases where an earlier malfunction in a lift truck could not be repeated by the service technician and was put back into service without repair. When these same vehicles are involved in incidents, our experts are tasked with determining whether or not the malfunction was a contributing cause in the incident and if the lift truck was properly diagnosed and serviced before being returned to service.
Inspection & Repair of Industrial Trucks + Other Helpful Information
Definition of Industrial Truck
OSHA defines a powered industrial truck as, “Any mobile power-propelled truck used to carry, push, pull, lift, stack or tier materials. Powered industrial trucks can be ridden or controlled by a walking operator. Earth moving and over the road haulage trucks are not included in the definition. Equipment that was designed to move earth but has been modified to accept forks are also not included.”
Inspection & Repair
When approached with these cases, it is necessary to determine whether or not a repair or service call was properly executed, including determining if the service provider followed the appropriate steps in troubleshooting and correcting an error before returning equipment to service.
Appropriate service can take a lot of forms depending on the issue at hand, but is specific when a reported issue is intermittent or when adequate corrective action of a reported issue is not clear to the maintenance technician. Below we have provided an operational flow that should be followed in the event that a system malfunction cannot be properly resolved:
- Confirm the nature and circumstances involved with the specific operational failure of the equipment.
- Operate the equipment in a controlled environment until the fault is observed first-hand by maintenance personnel.
- Review the maintenance history of the equipment to identify any trends or related maintenance issues.
- Consult the applicable vehicle maintenance manuals and related documents.
- Involve other technicians, including manufacturer authorized service centers, to elicit their experience and maintenance history of the specific reported issue.
- Contact the manufacturer’s technical support.
- Keep the equipment out of service until the reported issue is remediated.
The work flow stops at any point if the issue can be resolved, but in order to promote employee safety, it is essential to adequately troubleshoot and repair any malfunctioning equipment before returning it to service. Failure to follow this rule exposes employees to a potentially dangerous condition should the known malfunction recur.
Some of the standards relevant to the maintenance and repair of industrial trucks, include:
29 CFR 1910.178(q)(1-12) OSHA, Materials Handling and Storage, Powered Industrial Trucks, Maintenance of Industrial Trucks
ANSI.B56.1.1969 (701,702) Safety Standards for Powered Industrial Trucks, Maintenance Practices
When necessary our experts can conduct a reconstruction to determine the cause of the incident and whether or not the claimed malfunction contributed to the cause. Please contact Matt directly to discuss incident reconstruction within the scope of your case.
We have the experts to assist in a complete investigation of the injuries. Experts in warehouse operations and facilities engineering complement Matt’s expertise with industrial trucks. When appropriate, we also have experts in biomechanics and human factors.
Matt provides investigations, analysis and testimony in matters related to the maintenance & repair of industrial vehicles and equipment. Throughout his career Matt has owned, operated, and maintained industrial trucks, farm equipment, and aircraft. Matt also has experience training vocational students; earlier in his career Matt was an FAA technical instructor, he also served as an FAA Designated Mechanic Examiner, administering the FAA oral and practical exams. Matt’s degree is in Aviation Maintenance from Purdue, he’s also an FAA Certified Mechanic.