ANSI B56.1-2020: Safety Standard for Low, High Lift Trucks

Man properly dressed in yellow and orange PPE to properly operate an ANSI B56.1-2020 forklift on a factory palette.

The current standard for industrial trucks and lifting equipment like forklifts is ANSI/ITSDF B56.1-2020: Safety Standard For Low Lift And High Lift Trucks.

The Importance of Forklift Safety

In this area, safety is integral. OSHA estimates that nearly 100,000 forklift injuries and about 85 fatalities occur each year in the United States. In fact, of the 855,900 forklifts in use in the country, annually, over 10 percent are involved in an accident.

The usage of low lift and high lift trucks in warehouses and other workplace environments is essential—it’s unreasonable to think all loads could be lifted by hand. As the already-globalized world increases its dependency on the interchange of goods and the delivery of items to people’s doorsteps, the value of industrial trucks will not diminish anytime soon.

With the risks present with high lift and low lift industrial trucks, this industry benefits greatly from the helping hand of standards. ANSI B56.1 specifies industrial trucks to promote safety through their design, construction, application, operation, and maintenance.

What is ANSI B56.1-2020?

For those unaware of ANSI/ITSDF B56.1-2020 (also known as ANSI B56.1) and its previous editions, it is a safety standard for powered industrial trucks. It defines safety guidelines relating to the elements of design, operation, and maintenance of low lift and high lift powered industrial trucks. Such trucks are controlled by a riding or walking operator, and they are intended for use on compacted, improved services.

The purpose of this standard is multifaceted. In promoting safety through the proper design, construction, application, operation, and maintenance of low lift and high powered industrial trucks, ANSI/ITSDF B56.1-2020 can be used as a guide by governmental authorities desiring to formulate safety rules and regulations, and it also is intended for voluntary use by others associated with the manufacture or use of low lift and high lift powered industrial trucks.

Changes to ANSI/ITSDF B56.1-2020

While ITSDF was formed to administer the B56 Standards Committee in 2005, the B56.1 standard long predates this time, first being published back in 1950. Since then, to promote safety with industrial trucks, this standard has been revised periodically.

When compared with the previous edition from 2018, ANSI/ITSDF B56.1-2020 was changed to include minimum separation distances for protection from moving parts, the option to use metric or imperial units or both on nameplates, expanded brake system requirements, and travel controls. Furthermore, this revision includes the definition for “percent grade,” the replacement of the word “battery” to “electric power source” throughout, and the removal of enclosures from operator restraint systems.

You can learn about the changes to recent revisions by scrolling to the bottom of this post.

Bright yellow industrial low-lift truck ready for work in warehouse with ANSI/ITDSF B56.1 help.

ITSDF and the B56.1 Committee

ANSI/ITSDF B56.1-2020 was written and published by the Industrial Truck Standards Development Foundation (ITSDF), an ANSI-accredited standards-developing organization. ITSDF was formed in 2005 to administer the B56 Standards Committee, which develops of a series of industrial truck standards.

However, B56 standards long predate the establishment of this organization, and the first appearance of the B56.1 document was back in 1950, when it was issued as ASA B56.1-1950 (ASA stood for American Standards Organization, an earlier name of the American National Standards Institute).

The reaffirmation and redesignation of all B56 standards to ITSDF in 2005 allowed for a specific organization to devote itself entirely to the committee’s scope. This designates ITSDF’s purpose as the:

“Establishment of the safety requirements relating to the elements of design, operation, and maintenance; standardization relating to principal dimensions to facilitate interchangeability, test methods, and test procedures of powered and nonpowered industrial trucks (not including vehicles intended primarily for earth moving or over-the-road hauling); and maintenance of liaison with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in all matters pertaining to powered and nonpowered industrial trucks.”

Considering the sheer danger and hazards associated with industrial trucks, ITSDF placing its sole concern on the industry is surely beneficial.

ANSI/ITSDF B56.1-2020 helps to assure the safety of many workers by covering guidelines for powered industrial truck operators regarding worker competency, training, and operator responsibilities. In providing guidance to users, manufacturers, and authorities associated with low lift and high lift industrial trucks, this American National Standard ultimately strengthens the industry as a whole.

Changes to ANSI B56.1a-2018

The previous revision of this standard was also a sizable update, so information on its changes are included below for your reference.

As stated within the document itself, “following approval by the ITSDF B56 Committee and after public review, ANSI/ITSDF B56.1a-2018 was approved as an addenda to ANSI/ITSDF B56.1-2016.”

Changes to ANSI/ITSDF B56.1a-2018 were limited to those needed to conform the American National Standard to OSHA fall protection requirements from 2017. These revisions altered section 4.17.2, Table 1(a), Table 1(b), section 7.38.1, and the glossary of the ITSDF standard.

Specifically, ANSI/ITSDF B56.1a-2018 called for the personal fall protection systems of trucks used to elevate personnel to be inspected and maintained in accordance with ANSI/ASSP Z359.11-2021: Safety Requirements for Full Body Harnesses, ANSI/ASSP Z359.13-2013: Personal Energy Absorbers and Energy Absorbing Lanyards, ANSI/ASSP Z359.14-2014: Safety Requirements for Self-Retracting Devises for Personal Fall Arrest and Rescue Systems. Please note that each of these standards, due to ASSE’s name change to the American Society of Safety Professionals, have ASSP in their titles, instead of ASSE.

Furthermore, ANSI B56.1a-2018 featured a new guideline regarding rating components of the fall protection system the operator’s weight. As for the tables, both Table 1(a) and Table 1(b) of ANSI/ITSDF B56.1a-2018, which detail personal fall protection system configurations in pounds and kilograms, respectively, no longer include a row on “body belt,” and they also feature several changes for operator weight.

Changes to ANSI/ITSDF B56.1-2016

Prior to the 2018 edition, the 2016 edition of ANSI/ITSDF B56.1 revised the version from 2012.

Specifically, ANSI/ITSDF B56.1-2016 underwent changes involving:

  • Hydraulic circuit withstand pressure
  • Deleted reference to ASME B20
  • User section changes (decal to label, etc.)
  • Nameplates
  • Deleted double-ended baggage carts
  • Overhead guards
  • Supervisor/user training
  • Storage batteries for electric trucks
  • Stability tests
  • Platform definition
6 thoughts on “ANSI B56.1-2020: Safety Standard for Low, High Lift Trucks
  1. Hi, where does exactly states on B56.1 that a Mandatory Forklift Inspection must be conducted by a Certified Technician? OSHA 1910.178 states daily inspections but I did not see anything on Yearly Inspections.

    Please advise- Thank you!

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