The Massachusetts Department of Public Safety has narrowed the scope of its controversial year-old hoisting regulations after agreeing with Associated Industries of Massachusetts that federal rules pre-empt some of the state requirements.
The change means companies that operate industrial lift trucks and forklifts solely on their own property are no longer subject to the state regulations if the area where the equipment is used is not accessible to the public.
AIM objected to the regulations because they were costly and duplicated federal rules enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The state rules forced some employers to comply by reassigning long-term employees who had operated hoisting equipment for years to other jobs.
“The Department of Public Safety (DPS) deserves tremendous credit for an intelligent approach to regulation,” said Robert Rio Vice President of Government Affairs at AIM.
AIM and lawyers representing forklift manufacturers and technicians, prepared a legal memo to DPS outlining the case for pre-emption, citing several similar major national cases. DPS reviewed the memo and, following several discussions, agreed with AIM’s position and released the guidance making the hoisting regulations consistent with pre-emption law.
Only industrial lift trucks and forklifts are exempt. Operators of other equipment subject to the law must still be licensed, even if the hoisting devices are used in areas where the public is not allowed.
The exemption does not apply if the public has access to any property in which the equipment is operated. That includes warehouse type stores, where aisles are blocked off for forklift activity, but the public is otherwise allowed to walk freely.
There is also a new exemption for technicians preforming repair.
Employers should refer to DPS administrative rulings and FAQ prior to making any changes to their forklift licensing requirements.
“Efficient regulation is a cornerstone of AIM’s new Blueprint for the next Century economic plan,” Rio said.
“Public Safety Commissioner Thomas G. Gatzunis, legal counsel Beth McLaughlin, and Tim Wilkerson, Regulatory Ombudsman Director at the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, have created a model for smart partnerships between business and government.”