A recent article by a safety adviser examines forklift hazards in the workplace. Under OSHA standards, forklift operators should be regularly evaluated and retrained. Forklifts are one of the most common pieces of equipment used in industry
There are about 1.5 million forklift operators in the United States, according to a recent Georgia worker safety report. Forklifts are used in virtually every industry. Forklifts are also called Powered Industrial Trucks, PITs, or fork trucks. Many injuries and even deaths each year result from improper forklift use.
Anytime a forklift driver uses the fork truck in an unsafe way, he or she should be retrained. This includes retraining after every accident or “close call.” A good forklift training program will take several factors into account. One of these factors is the operator’s level of experience and demonstrated skill. Another is the type of forklift being used. Training should specifically address any hazards in the workplace.
A recent Georgia worker safety article demonstrates the importance of operator training to minimize injuries and fatalities. Many people are lulled into a false sense of security because the forklift controls are easy to handle. However, fork trucks cause many deaths each year.
Instability due to improper load balance is one of the major causes of forklift accidents. An operator should never add more weight to the back of the forklift to balance the load and make the truck more stable. This is a very common mistake, but it can easily result in a serious accident. Adding weight to the rear of the forklift changes the center of gravity and often causes the truck to flip over, sometimes with deadly results.
Forklift loads must be moved slowly. If the steering feels light, that’s a sign that the truck is unbalanced. An unbalanced fork truck is difficult to control and can easily flip over.
Attachments are often added to forklifts, especially in the manufacturing industry. Every attachment must be approved by the manufacturer in writing, prior to use. Attachments change the safety rating of the fork truck. Once the manufacturer approves the addition, new tags or decals will be issued for the forklift.
A hazardous piece of equipment. No seat belt. An unsafe maneuver. Together, these ingredients resulted in a tragic, preventable forklift accident that took the life of a forklift operator.
The forklift appears deceptively stable because it has four wheels. But it does not operate like a car. In reality it’s one of the most dangerous pieces of equipment used on a regular basis in the workplace.
A Georgia worker safety report shows that the death of a forklift operator was caused by the inherent instability of the machine. It was just one example of the many deaths and injuries every year that are related to the instability of forklifts.
In this case, the driver – who worked for a car dealership – was helping a neighboring business. The operator was moving materials from a tractor-trailer to the bed of a pickup truck. After depositing materials in the pickup, the forklift operator backed up fast and turned the steering wheel sharply. The forklift tipped onto its side. The operator, thrown from the fork truck, was crushed by the overhead cage.
The Georgia OSHA investigation report found that the driver had not received the proper training. The forklift had no seatbelt or restraining device. And the operator had left the forks in the raised position when backing up. Forklifts should never be backed up when the forks are in the “up” position. Turning sharply with the forks raised may tip the machine even with no loads and at slow speeds, say the “Employer’s Guide to Material Handling Safety.” Training could have prevented the tragedy,
Every year, an average of 20,000 workers are seriously hurt and 100 killed in forklift accidents. Forklifts are not as stable as cars, and operators should keep this in mind at all times. Even though it has 4 wheels, a fork truck does not have 4 points of stability, as cars do. The rear axle is a pivot point, a design tactic meant to make forklifts highly maneuverable. But that also means forklifts have only 3 points of stability. The result is a generally unstable vehicle.
You may be shocked by the information on Georgia Worker Safety. Studies show that over 503,530 employees have bore sprains, strains or tears. In 2005, an amazing 270,890 workers suffered back injuries while working. The total amount of people that fell at work is 255,750.
Workplace safety is crucially important to both employers and employees. Having an injured employee is definitely the last thing any employer needs. On top of the employee’s pain, the employer will have to deal with lawsuits, lost wages, and those money-consuming medical bills. No employee looks forward to getting hurt at their job. However, injuries in the workplace are highly common. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) scrutinizes millions of injuries each year in not only Georgia, but all across the nation.
The OSHA administers workplace safety in Georgia. We consider slips, trips and falls absolutely irritating, but not necessarily life threatening. The second most common type of workplace casualty is the slip, trip or fall. In 2005, 732 people died after falling at work. Only driving accidents created more deaths, with 1,258 work-related casualties.
According to a recent report, there were 4,214,200 work related accidents nationwide in 2005. Those accidents were responsible for 1,234,700 missed workdays. To make matters worse, 5,702 workers lost their lives in fatal accidents during the year. Though these numbers are ridiculously high, they include only accidents for employees in the private sector. Remember, these don’t include accidents that involved paramedics, police, firefighters, or other government or non-profit employees.
Any dependable workplace safety program has its roots in education. It’s imperative that workers are reminded of the importance of safety and instructed on proper safety techniques. The OSHA Workplace Safety Pack is the perfect tool for any safety program. It contains clear information for employees on preventing a myriad of painful injuries.
Though banned from use in this country for quite some time, asbestos still poses a significant risk to anyone coming in contact with it. Most buildings are safer from the substance now days but older model cars and trucks are likely to still contain parts made from asbestos.
These older model vehicles are the subject of a Georgia worker safety alert issued recently. The clutch and brake systems on these older vehicles may contain asbestos. The warning urges anyone working with these potentially dangerous vehicles to use extreme caution and to protect their coworkers, too, since the airborne particles given off by the mechanical parts containing asbestos pose significant risk to anyone in the vicinity of them.
Asbestos control in repair shops and any other applicable settings is best achieved by using two methods recommended in the Georgia worker safety alert. The HEPA vacuum system, using negative pressure enclosure and low pressure / wet cleaning are strongly advocated. It is also strongly recommended that anyone working with any part of the brake and clutch systems on older model vehicles do so with the thought in mind that it does, in fact, contain asbestos.
In every jobsite where asbestos might be handled, the Georgia worker safety alert reminds readers that written procedures to handle asbestos are required. Training and enforcing the written procedures established for handling asbestos in the workplace are the responsibility of the employer.
Control measures focusing on wetting the asbestos and storing all parts that might contain asbestos in a clearly labeled, tightly sealed bag are urged. These two measures do a great deal to reduce the number of airborne particles that lead to illness and death when inhaled. These tiny, fibrous particles, invisible to the naked eye, jeopardize the health of the mechanic handling the parts and to everyone in the shop.
Cited as “best practices” for minimizing risk of inhalation are the negative pressure enclosure / HEPA vacuum system and low pressure / wet cleaning.
Asbestos-related illnesses include asbestosis, mesothelioma, and cancers of the lungs and gastrointestinal tract. Each year, approximately 10,000 Americans die from these diseases.
OSHA records show that about 20% of workers that lose their lives at work test positive for alcohol or drugs. Accidents in the workplace that have not been counted are caused by substance abuse problems. About 12 million drug users are employed. It is no question that many of them are not able to separate their drug use from their work. Sometimes people show up to work under the influence.
Through the efforts of the Georgia Drug-Free Workplace alliance, many companies are able to fight against the harmful effects of drug and alcohol abuse on work environments. Accidents and avoidable errors occur as a result of alcohol or drug impairment, and, according to the OSHA, these expenses can be a high price for many businesses to pay. Illness rates also increase due to substance abuse, and related to that, absenteeism increases.
Some companies crack down on substance abuse among their workers with random drug testing. Many companies won’t hire anyone who is not willing to take, or does not pass, pre-employment drug screening.Elaine Chao, the current Secretary of Labor, recently appeared at a signing ceremony to expand the Georgia Drug Free Workplace Alliance. Established in 2004, this alliance was our country’s Dept. of Labor’s first cooperative agreement on bettering worker safety through drug abuse impediment. The expansion is a part of the continuing battle against substance abuse.
OSHA strongly supports ample drug-free workforce programs. Education on health and safety is a thriving point for the OSHA, so of course addressing drugs and alcohol in the workplace is recognized as an extremely important issue. Many of the accidents that occur as a result of illicit drug use and alcohol abuse can be avoided. By employers educating their workers on the possible dangers involved, regarding coworkers and themselves, they can reduce the number of accidents, or deaths, that occur. It is also a good idea to provide information on how someone with a problem can get help in the local area.