A new Kansas worker safety publication outlines the risks of operating a forklift and the training that will help avoid those risks.
Training and regulations for forklift operation are crucial. The forklift appears easy to operate. But it can become unstable. It is the commonest form of death and injury in the workplace, and about 1.5 million people operate them.
The worker safety regulations cover two areas – training for operators and licensing for modifications of the forklift.
Training is carefully monitored under worker safety standards. Retraining is a significant part of the process. Forklift operators will require retraining not only after an accident, but after a near-accident, or even if they are spotted operating the device unsafely. Each operator is subject to retraining and re-evaluation at regular intervals.
Factors are taken into account in worker safety standards for training. Some of those factors are the type of forklift being used, the “demonstrated” or visible skill of the operator, the operator’s previous knowledge and past skill, and the hazards of the workplace.
Attachments or extensions of the forklift are subject to a set of regulations. For example, a manufacturer must give advance permission in writing before a modification can be made. Also, the forklift itself must be re-licensed with each modification. Those licenses – plates, tags, or decals – apply to capacity, maintenance instructions, and operation. They need to reflect every modification. The size of the fork extension or the attachment’s weight must be taken into account as part of the forklift’s overall load.
Operators need to keep in mind that loads should not be carried out on the tips of the forks. This makes the truck unstable. And if the steering feels somehow “light,” it’s a sign that the forklift is unstable. Loading the rear end of the truck will only make things worse by shifting the center of gravity to the rear axle.
Some of the attachments used on forklifts include drum grippers, cylinder caddies, drum rotators, drum carriers, rug rams, hoppers, and boom extensions.
The driver of a forklift in Kansas was killed when the fork truck tipped over. The operator was crushed.
The tragic accident could have been prevented, according to a Kansas OSHA report. Like this death, many deaths and injuries in forklift mishaps are caused by the instability of the fork truck, considered by many to be one of the most hazardous devices in industry.
Figures from the U.S. Department of Labor show that every year, an average of 100 workers die in forklift accidents. Another 20,000, on average, suffer serious injuries.
The Kansas accident shows both the instability of forklifts and the need for training in their operation.
According to Kansas OSHA, the driver backed up quickly after unloading materials into a pickup truck bed. At the same time, the operator turned sharply. The forklift flipped on its side. The driver was thrown from the fork truck and crushed by its protection cage. The driver, who worked for a car dealership, had been helping a nearby business on a Friday in July, moving goods from a tractor-trailer to the pickup.
The Kansas OSHA investigation found that several things had gone wrong:
- The driver was not properly trained.
- The forklift had no seat belt or other restraining device.
- The forks were in the “up” position when the driver was backing.
OSHA notes that drivers should always lower the forks before backing up, to avoid the kind of tragedy that occurred in the Kansas incident. The “Employer’s Guide to Material Handling and Safety” points out also that when the forks are raised, turning sharply may cause a tip-over. It can happen even without a load on the forklift, and even at low speeds.
All forklift operators need to be mindful at all times that a forklift does not have the stability of a car. An auto’s weight is distributed over 4 points. But because forklifts need a special kind of maneuverability, their rear axles are pivot points. The result? Only 3 points of stability.
All workplace fatalities should be reported to OSHA within 24 hours.
If you are an employer, you are probably aware of how important Kansas worker safety is. You probably also know that every effective worker safety program has its roots in informing workers on the importance of safety. The proper training and education on safety precautions is an important part of a good workplace safety plan.
Kansas worker safety is regulated and guided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics state that OSHA conducts investigations on millions of workplace accidents every year nationwide. The most recent statistics are from 2005, and they show over 4.2 million accidents reported for that year. Sadly, 5,702 of the people involved in these accidents did not make it.
You wouldn’t think that a slip and fall would be the death of so many, but more than 700 of the reported deaths in job-related accidents were due to a fall. This is why it is so important to OSHA and many employers that safety precautions are followed. Keeping walkways clean, clear and dry at all times can be a life saver. Plastic bags, spills, and wires can seriously injure or kill someone if they are on the floor where people need to walk. These kinds of things are more serious than many people consider them to be.
While accidents do happen, there are many preventive measures that employers and employees can take. All workers should be properly trained for any and all tasks expected of them, especially when it comes to lifting and operating machinery. Ergonomics is also an important subject that should be reviewed to minimize work-related injury. Obviously, keeping walkways free from debris and slippery moisture is the least one can do to keep things safe. Employers should hold safety meetings at least once a year, and check that procedures are being followed on a regular basis.
Approximately ten thousand people have lost their lives each year of asbestos-related illnesses like gastrointestinal cancer, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. The danger of asbestos is in its size. It breaks down into particles that are so small that they can be inhaled. This hazardous material enters the body this way and causes damage over time, especially if exposure is excessive.
Although it is widely believed that asbestos hasn’t been an issue for years, it is still a threat today. It has been banned from buildings, and great strides have been made to prevent exposure. The problem is that there is a place other than buildings that poses the risk of asbestos exposure: automobiles.
This information was included in a current Kansas worker safety alert and the details state that older model cars and trucks contain asbestos. The clutches and brakes are the parts in particular that carry the hazardous material, and this poses a threat to those in the automobile repair industry. Newer vehicles have brakes and clutches that tend not to contain the material, so it is in fact the older models that pose most of the threat.
Asbestos is not large enough for the human eye to detect, so you can’t just look at your brakes or clutches and see the asbestos. The safest idea is for everyone who needs repairs on their brakes or clutches to bring the car or truck to the mechanic’s shop. This might be a let down for ‘Mr. or Mrs. Fix-it’ but, it is only a suggested safety precaution that is well worth listening to. A trained professional should be allowed to handle this hazardous material. The long term effects of asbestos exposure are not worth doing it yourself.
Every mechanics shop should have special written procedures for handling brakes and clutches as if they all contain asbestos.
All-Terrain Vehicles, or ATVs, are dangerous in the workplace. They are attractive, of course, but they are also very difficult to drive. They have big tires, with low-pressure, and tend to incline in curves.
Accidents involving ATVs are increasing, and so are deaths. ATVs have become common in some industries, like construction, facilities administration, public security, and agriculture.
According to a Kansas OSHA alert, most of the accidents occur in the workplace. In only 9 years, 1625 people were injured in accidents with ATVs, and 113 died. Most of the workers hurt lost one or several days of labor.
One of the principal reasons of accidents is the excess weight on the vehicles. Employers that use ATVs must follow manufacturer recommendations referring to the weight and number of people allowed. In general, these vehicles have limited room and are designed to be used by only one rider. The vehicle itself has less stability than a car, motorcycle, or a bike, so if the driver adds more weight, the ATV becomes even more unstable.
Using a helmet is a must, and the driver should be specifically trained to operate ATVs. Some employees think that having a driver’s license for a car or motorcycle is enough to drive an ATV, but it is not true. These vehicles are very different.
In 1982, ATV deaths were at 29. In 2004 were 470, and that represents a shocking increase. These numbers were published by the Consumer Product Commission. In the last 10 years, the statistics about ATV injuries rose to 800,000. They are numbers about recreational users, but reflect an alarming reality.
ATV guidelines were provided in the Kansas OSHA alert, and specify that these vehicles are intended for use by a single user with no accompanying person. To carry equipment sometimes ATVs have rear or front storage racks.