Did you know that forklifts are one of the most common causes of death and injury among workers?
A North Carolina worker safety report says there are a number of safety hazards involved in operating forklifts (sometimes called Powered Industrial Trucks or just fork trucks). One of them is the unbalanced load.
That’s why rigorous training and retraining of forklift operators is required. Improper load carrying and changes in weight load due to the many attachments now available for forklifts makes such a requirement necessary.
Whenever a forklift driver has an accident, or even a “near miss”, he or she must undergo fresh forklift training. Even if forklift drivers are just seen operating the equipment in an unsafe manner, retraining is necessary. In any case, OSHA requires retraining and re-evaluation on a periodic basis. Regulations demand operator training according to several standards, including the operator’s “demonstrated skill,” workplace hazards, the type of forklift involved, and the operator’s forklift knowledge and skill level.
Attachments to a forklift affect its balance. Any attachment will have an impact on a truck’s safety rating, and all should be approved in writing by the manufacturer in advance. Once the modifications are made, employers must change the truck’s operation, capacity, and maintenance instruction plates (sometimes called tags or decals) to reflect those modifications.
Some of the attachments are boom extensions, rug rams, drum carriers, hoppers, cylinder caddies, drum rotators, and drum grippers. Remember that an extension or attachment should be considered part of the load and will have an impact on the truck’s overall capacity.
Improper operation affects balance as well. Keep in mind that the load should be kept as low as possible while it’s being moved. Also, a light load – one well below the truck’s maximum capacity – can be unstable, if it’s out on the fork tips or otherwise too far forward. If the load feels light, that means the truck is unstable. The driver has little control in that case.
The North Carolina worker safety guide is meant to reduce the numbers of deaths and injuries in forklift operation.
Seasonal flu can be dangerous to the old, those with weak immune systems, or small children. But normally, it is an event we consider more annoying than harmful. An influenza pandemic is another matter. According to the North Carolina OSHA alert, when a new strain of the virus emerges on the scene, immunity is non-existent. The ailment passes rapidly from person to person, soon spreading around the world. The results can be deadly.
If you are a worker or an employer, you should know all of the emergency plans your workplace has set up. Now, according to an OSHA alert released recently, a contingency plan for a global influenza pandemic should be included. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says a new pandemic would throw the global economy into turmoil worse than any single terrorist event.
It’s important to know the difference between the seasonal influenza, or “flu,” as we usually call it, and an influenza pandemic.
We’ve already developed an immunity to seasonal flu. But, says the North Carolina OSHA alert, in a pandemic a new strain emerges. Nobody has developed an immunity. The ailment spreads quickly from person to person until it envelops the globe.
That’s what happened during the last major pandemic of influenza, from 1918-1920. It spread quickly, killing more than 50 million victims in a year and a half. The death toll included otherwise healthy young adults who died sometimes within days of coming down with the disease.
Here are some simple steps you can take, similar to those for seasonal flu:
Stay home from work or school if you are sick.
Keep a distance of at least 6 feet from infected people.
Cover your mouth if you sneeze or cough and be sure to use a disposable tissue.
Wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitizer.
There are safeguards that can be taken in the workplace as well. Choose conference calls over meetings. Have employees work from home where possible. And, in places where there is contact with the public, consider installing drive-through windows or other ways of restricting that contact.
Last week’s deadly storms in Kansas just prove that you can’t prepare too much for an emergency.
North Carolina worker safety is always a concern when spring storms bring the threat of power outages. Businesses should plan, not only to protect their workers but also their property in case of a spring power outage.
Businesses should take care when using fuel heaters in unventilated work areas. Proper ventilation is vital, and for this reason, employers should always have wood-burning stoves and fireplaces inspected following installation. Employers should remind workers that items such as open ovens, gas ranges, propane heaters, and charcoal grills should never be used to heat an indoor area. These items aren’t intended for indoor heating and can be unsafe.
What specific things should business owners do?
Business owners should always ensure that proper ventilation is maintained within the building. For instance, use caution if fuel heaters are utilized in spaces that aren’t properly ventilated. Only use wood-burning stoves and fireplaces if they have been properly installed and inspected. Never use heating items such as open stoves, gas ranges, charcoal grills, or propane heaters to heat an indoor space. These items can be hazardous.
Have generators installed by a licensed electrician. A licensed electrician can ensure safety procedures are followed when the generator is hooked up. For instance, it is vital that the generator not create a situation where a utility worker can be electrocuted by a back feed of electricity through the normal distribution wiring. A licensed electrician can prevent this hazard by properly installing the generator.
What about using heating devices that require forced-air circulation?
Using a heating device, such as a stove, without proper ventilation can cause heat to build up. This heat buildup poses a fire hazard. If a stove requires forced-air circulation to be operated safely, businesses should not use this device when the air circulation cannot occur. Not only can a buildup of heat occur, but workers also can face the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning.