Using of cell phone is not allowed when operating forklift Using of cell phone while operating forklift poses a very serious hazard and it should never be allowed. You could be distracted using it. Your full attention should be at the forklift controls and not at the keypad of your mobile device. It is therefore a serious safety violation. OSHA strongly prohibits its use during forklift operation and even when powered industrial truck is at idle position.

I, who became a safety officer, knows that to prevent industrial accident starts by making sure that forklift operators are alert and attentive to what’s going on around him, otherwise, he could lost his job at the very least. With just short period of losing attention because the operator is busy answering his text or call, exposes himself to inability to recognize danger and respond immediately when needed.

Using of smart phone is as dangerous as operating forklift while intoxicated or under the influence. Hence, OSHA is very stringent enforcing regulation against employers that has no safety policy prohibiting its use at work.

Ways to Mitigate the Risks of Using Mobile Phones in the Workplace

Forklift operators must be properly educated on the issue of safety. One of the hot topics nowadays is the use of mobile phone. OSHA already talked about it, and they encourage all employers to forbid their workers from using it. Here are the ways you can do as employer:

  • The management should implement a policy that prohibits their operators from using mobile phones. If the company has a safety procedure in place, augment such regulation to the procedure. The employer can also supplement written policy in the worker’s safety handbook.

  • Other way to combat the danger is to carry out risk analysis/assessment. The employer must determine the risk of using cell phone in their workplaces.

  • You can also discuss the issue in the tool box talk meeting or in the forklift refresher training so that it could be given special highlight and attention.

  • Lastly, command the safety officers to apprehend the violators. Writing policy prohibiting use of cell phone and including it in the training curriculum is not enough. The employer should have a stern enforcement of the policy because workers will simply don’t give such importance and pay no attention to the rule. Reprimand these idiots, give them warning in the first or second offense, and when the commission of the violation becomes habitual, a more serious penalty should be given like termination.

Others Factors That Can Cause Distraction

Use of two-way radios for communication – it cannot be used while the truck is in motion. It’s inevitable not to use such radios because communication is important in a large warehouse or worksite. Never bring two-way radios when you know that you will be operating forklift.

Listening to Music – Using of MP3 player and headphone is no different to being deaf. You lose one of your most important senses, your ear, if you are listening to music. It is a recipe for disaster when you are in control of a forklift while listening to rock music on your MP3 player. You would not be able to hear the horns of other forklifts, large sound of the sirens during emergency situation, conversation between you and the spotter or important discussion of your coworkers.

Bringing of food on the forklift cabin (eating or drinking) – If you are one who secretly bringing your favorite food to munch on during forklift operation, then, you might consider stopping that habit. Even your argument is you’re not eating while the forklift is not in motion, it is still unacceptable. Employer must advise their forklift operators to keep their food in the pantry and not inside the forklift cabin.

Laws and Regulations that Prohibits Use of Cell Phone and Distracted Driving

OSHA section 5(a)(1) General Duty clause. When OSHA finds out that the accident contributed from lack of safety policy of the employer related to the use of cell phone, the administration could issue a serious citation against the company. The penalty could be $70,000 for each willful or repeated commission of the violation or $7,000 per serious noted violation.

OSHA Safety and Health Regulations for Construction 1926.1417(d) states that worker must refrain from the use of cell phone that diverts his full attention while in operation of the equipment.

The signed Executive Order 13513 of President Obama commonly called the Federal Leadership on Reducing Text Messaging While Driving". It prohibits federal workers from texting while in use of government-owned, leased or rented vehicles; when using electronic equipment supplied by the government while driving; or while driving privately owned vehicles when they're on official government business.

In the year 2010, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCA) and in 2011, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration approved rules and regulations that prohibit truck and bus drivers from using cell phones while operating their vehicles. Violators can be issued with penalty and fines. Violation could also impact the driver’s SMS result.


A forklift behaves very differently from your car. Usually forklift is use in tight spaces and in close proximity with other forklifts and pedestrians. With just short span of time of losing attention by its operator, it could lead to very severe accident. The operator has no room to commit mistake. Distraction like the use of cell phone while the truck is in operation contributes to the root cause of an accident. Use of cell phone should never be allowed at the workplace.

Live longer, prioritize safety at all times!


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