Forklifts may look simple to operate. But they can be extremely unstable. An unbalanced load or a special attachment or extension can add to the hazard.
There are about 1.5 million forklift operators in the U.S., and the device is a common cause of bad injuries or deaths.
An Nebraska worker safety article has been released stressing the need for improved training for forklift operators.
OSHA regulations require training and retraining for forklift operators. There are standards that determine that training:
- The operator’s previous skill and knowledge.
- The “demonstrated” or visible skill of the operator.
- The type of forklift
- Other hazards in the workplace
Retraining is crucial. For example, whenever a forklift driver is in an accident (or even a near-accident), retraining is required. Whenever a driver operates in an unsafe manner, he or she must be retrained. And periodic re-evaluation and retraining is required in any case.
Attachments and operation both affect the stability of forklift – sometimes called a Powered Industrial Truck (PIT) or just a fork truck.
Whenever an attachment or extension is added, it could change the truck’s safety rating. Attachments are part of the load and must be taken into account. The addition or modification must be approved in advance, in writing, by the manufacturer. Once the modification is made, the truck’s plates, tags, or decals should show the change. Those plates or decals demonstrate the forklift’s capacity, operation, and maintenance instructions.
There are all sorts of attachments available for forklifts. They include rug rams, drum carriers, hoppers, cylinder caddies, drum rotators, and drum grippers. Most are typically found in the manufacturing industry.
Operation is also a key factor. Forklift operators are advised to keep a load as low as possible. If the steering feels somehow light, the truck is instable. The driver is losing control of the load. Adding more weight will not help. It moves the center of gravity to the rear – a recipe for instability. Even light loads that are sitting up forward on the tips of the forks are hazardous.
The Nebraska labor laws contain quite a few provisions designed to protect workers, provide safe workplaces, and generally provide standards for a variety of employment issues. In this blog entry I’ll give you a brief overview of some of these laws.
Nebraska employees should be glad to know that the state enforces of a variety of standards designed to maintain a safe, healthful and hazard-free workplace. Standards exist to regulate all kinds of workplace hazards, from the use of various chemicals to scaffolding and power equipment. Workplace health and safety laws also set out requirements for employee bathrooms and other such facilities. Employers may be inspected and fined if they do not meet these standards.
Another regulation in the Nebraska labor laws that may be of interest is the lunch and break law. Nebraska employees in certain industries who work at least 8 hours consecutively must be given a 30 minute duty-free, unpaid break. Employers are not allowed to require that employees remain inside the building or on the workplace premises during this break. Unfortunately, not everyone is guaranteed this break. Only workers in assembling plants, workshops or “mechanical establishments” are required by law to be given this meal break.
Nebraska labor law guarantees that employees may not be forced to join a union, nor may they be denied employment based on their membership or non-membership in a union. Employees may also not be forced to pay union dues or fees.
Child labor rules are another important aspect of the Nebraska labor law. Minors under 16 must have employment certificates in order to work in the state. The work hours and types of work that may be performed by minors this age are also regulated under state law. The Nebraska labor law does not contain any provisions regulating the employment of minors aged 16 and 17.
Nebraska’s labor laws also cover other topics such as wage payment laws, workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance, the regulation of employment agencies, and more. An up-to-date listing of all relevant federal and state labor laws may be found on the Nebraska Complete Labor Law Poster.