Dirty, Overheating Forklifts violate OSHA Federal Law

Know The Law & Avoid Violations

Can an OSHA officer write a citation for a dirty forklift? Or using the forklift while overheating?


OSHA CFR1910.178(q)(10):

Industrial trucks shall be kept in a clean condition, free of lint, excess oil and grease.

OSHA CFR1910.178(q)(9):

When the temperature of any part of a truck is found to be in excess of its normal operating temperature, thus creating a hazardous condition, vehicle shall be removed from service and not returned to service until the cause of such overheating has been eliminated.

Think these regulations are extreme? Maybe at first glance but they exist for valid reasons. Forklifts work inside structures and around flammable – possibly explosive – materials and are considered a source of ignition.


Forklifts are tested “as to fire hazard” by an independent lab, commonly the Underwriters Lab (UL), and must be approved for use based on the operating environment.

OSHA CFR1910.178(a)(3):

Approved trucks shall bear a label or other identifying mark indicating approval by a testing laboratory.

OSHA CFR1910.178(a)(4):

Approved industrial truck means a truck that is listed or approved for fire safety purposes for the intended use by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.

An overheating forklift is in violation of the OSHA law. If a forklift is covered with oil, dust and debris along with a plugged radiator, proper operating temperature cannot be maintained; therefore, UL classification requirements are not retained.


Forklift planned maintenance can assist with keeping companies in compliance. Technicians use compressed air to clean out the radiator, under floor plate covers, electric motors, engines, axles and transmissions in an effort to remove debris for safer operation. Steam or pressure washing may be required for dirtier environments. Planned maintenance checks are a good time to also confirm the forklift is running efficiently and at the proper temperature.

Dirty forklift? Contact Thompson & Johnson today for a planned maintenance appointment!

Got Questions?

If you have a question on this or any topic related to safety with your forklift, give our resident expert, Dave Bennet, a call or fill out the request form.