New CSA lift truck standard: your best practices guide to training and more

May 13, 2015

Forklift workerEmployers now have a new tool for ensuring safe lift truck operation, courtesy of CSA B335-15 Safety standard for lift trucks. This comprehensive document covers the key elements of a lift truck safety program, including operator training, and qualifications for trainers and maintenance technicians.

It's been 11 years since standard B335 was updated, says Chuck Leon, a senior technical consultant with WSPS who is a voting member on B335 and chair of the CSA B334-1 sub-committee. While the entire document has been refreshed, the biggest changes are around training.

Both the previous and new version require operators to be trained to the level of competency, "but the training requirements in the new standard spell out how instruction is to be conveyed and evaluated," explains Leon.

This includes theory, hands-on, knowledge verification and practical evaluation, all of which are defined in B335-15. "It's important that all four levels of training are covered off, to ensure the instruction is understood and absorbed," notes Leon. And to ensure that trainers are capable of delivering this 4-pronged approach. Other changes include:

  • New retraining requirements. "The old standard recommended retraining for operators every three years, and re-evaluation of their skills 18 months later," says Leon. The 18-month evaluation is gone, replaced by a broader responsibility for employers to monitor operator performance on an ongoing basis. And "the three-year requirement becomes secondary to the legislative requirement of the province," says Leon. In Ontario, the requirement is three years.
  • Additional circumstances that trigger retraining:
    • when new equipment is introduced into the workplace
    • when the operating conditions and environment have changed
    • when applicable legislation changes, or
    • when skill or knowledge deficiencies are identified.
  • A "managed systems" context. The new standard is compatible with the CSA Z1000 series of management standards. "It's not just about lift truck training," explains Leon, "because you can train your people but that's not going to keep you safe. You have to have a managed system that talks about, is it the right equipment for the job, are we using the right equipment, are we maintaining the equipment properly, how often are we maintaining it, do we have an inventory list of our equipment. So that you know what has to be on your preventative maintenance program."

Better still, says Leon, "You need to have a mechanical material handling managed system. That's not just lift trucks, but cranes, conveyors, racking systems, loading docks."

Other changes to the standard affect

  • facility design
  • aisleways and obstructions
  • selection of lift trucks
  • operator compartment guards
  • pre-operation inspections
  • risk assessments
  • medical and physical fitness, and more.

Standard also acts as a "due diligence" guide

"If you're doing just what's in the Occupational Health and Safety Act, you're just starting and the minimum may mean that you're not going to be a very safe company" notes Leon. "You need to be going above and beyond the general duties."

A Ministry of Labour inspector who comes to your workplace and finds deficiencies in your lift truck safety program won't cite the standard, says Leon. "They may write you up under the general duty clause of the Act, which is 'use every precaution reasonable.' And what's reasonable is to follow the best practice. And that's the standard." It can help you exercise, and demonstrate, due diligence.

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