Almost a decade ago the Department of Public Safety in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (DPS) held a public forum. As required the Dept. was seeking input on proposed changes to the rules and regulations on hoisting. Part of the old regulation included power industrial trucks or as we all call them forklifts. I attended that meeting and provided testimony requesting the section on forklifts be removed. Why? Because in 2000 the DPS adopted both the OSHA & ANSI standards which cover training and maintenance of forklifts. There are seven classes of forklifts per OSHA and one includes electric hand jacks. Adding a hoisting license requirement for operators of electric hand jacks; at least in my opinion, seemed just a tad over the top. Sure most electric hand jacks can pick up and move some heavy weight but does an operator really need to know hand signals when a jack only lifts inches off the ground? For years nothing happened.
Just over a year and a half ago the DPS did release an update to the 520 CMR 6.0 and the update does impact all forklifts. As you can imagine this immediately created significant confusion. To better serve my clients I decided to contact the DPS directly and get some clarification myself. Unfortunately the voicemails I left and emails sent went unanswered!? Why? Who knows. Finally in frustration this past January I called one of the top officers at MA DPS and left a stern rant. My rant was returned and surprise I started receiving calls. I demanded a face to face meeting and was granted.
Are there some exceptions to the new regulations? Yes however there are requirements and a process a company must follow in order to “qualify” or be “granted” the “waiver or exception.” Vague? Yes very vague. All of this to “protect the public” as I was told in my meeting. As a safety professional I have no issue with that. The entire point of safety training is protection. What I have issue with is the complication. It shouldn’t be so complicated yet it is. A new policy yet the Dept. is making changes on the fly. Surprised? Well no. Frustrating? Absolutely.
Bottom line if your company has forklifts in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts your operator’s may need to acquire a 1C or 1D hoisting license. At time of this post the application fee is $75 and the tests are only held once a month at a few locations. Training classes are available to help study for and pass the test.
Warning it doesn’t end there! Before you can even apply for the license you must have a current DOT physical card AND a valid drivers license. But wait there is more! If you do acquire a license it will only be valid for two years. Before you can renew you MUST complete a required amount of hours of follow up training after your first year (depends on the type of license) and provide proof of that training prior to applying for renewal.
DPS has hired a number of new inspectors and they are in the field now having discussions with operators and managers. Appears this is the “alerting” stage before a heavy enforcement begins. Again training is available and we would be happy to help with additional information along with your training needs should you have a need. MA DPS is still adjusting some of the provisions of the new regulations so I will update as they publish them.
Remember Safety First….Safety Always!