Three-year evaluations versus refresher training: What's the difference?

By: Robin Marth

Publication: Employee Safety Management Today

Date Posted: 07/25/2022

Powered industrial trucks (PIT) can cause serious injuries. Because of the complexities and potential risk not only to the operator, but to those working near such equipment, obtaining proper training on its safe operation is imperative.

Employers are responsible for properly training employees to safely operate PITs. To accomplish this, OSHA’s PIT standard requires all operators to undergo initial training that includes a combination of formal instruction, practical training, and evaluation of the operator’s performance in the workplace on each individual truck they operate. Such rigorous training must be re-evaluated once every three years, unless the operator has been involved in an incident or near miss, in which they must receive refresher training. While similar in scope, it’s important to understand the differences in these requirements.

Three-year evaluations

At least once every three years, every operator must be evaluated. In most cases, the person conducting the evaluation would do two things:

  1. Observe the PIT operator during normal operations to determine if the operator is performing safely, and
  2. Ask pertinent questions to ensure that the operator has the knowledge or experience needed to continue to operate the truck safely.

In some cases, because of the danger or complexity of the operation, the extent of the change in conditions, or the operator’s need for additional skills, the evaluation will need to be lengthier and more detailed.

Employers should establish a system for tracking when PIT operator evaluations are due, or they could be easily overlooked. They must be performed no more than three years after the date of the initial certification or previous evaluation.

Refresher training

Separate from initial training and three-year evaluations, operators must receive refresher training when they are observed driving unsafely, are involved in an incident or near miss, or are assigned a different type of PIT to operate. Refresher training could also be required if the three-year evaluation identifies problems. The operator should not be allowed to operate the PIT until refresher training has been successfully completed.

OSHA does not identify how this type of training should take place but does clarify that employers may provide refresher training only on relevant topics. While it is the responsibility of the trainer to ensure the operator have the knowledge and skills needed to operate the PIT safely, the operator may not need to go through a complete training program.


Key to Remember:All PIT operators must receive initial training. They then must be re-evaluated once every three years, unless an incident or near-miss determines they receive refresher training sooner.

About the author
Robin Marth

Robin is an experienced EHS Specialist at J. J. Keller & Associates with a demonstrated history of working in the management consulting and manufacturing industry.

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