Accessories can enhance the usefulness of forklifts, but they can also pose risks if not installed properly. A recent state publication addresses the incorrect operation of forklifts. There are more than 1.5 million forklifts in use in nearly ever industry in the nation. Forklift accidents are one of the most common types of industrial accident in the US, resulting in 10,000 deaths each year.
That’ s the conclusion of a recent North Dakota worker safety report on these handy little trucks, also called Powered Industrial trucks, PITs, and fork trucks. Some of the attachments commonly used in industry include hoppers, drum grippers, boom extensions, rug rams and drum carriers. It is very common to see such attachments, especially in the manufacturing industry.
Employers and worker must be aware of how any accessories modify the forklift’s load capacity and performance. Accessories may also change the fork truck’s maintenance routine and operating procedures. When an accessory is installed, the manufacturer must approve the changes. Once that is accomplished, the instruction labels and decals will be modified to reflect the truck’s new capacity. The weight an accessory is always counted as part of the forklift’s load, therefore, it reduces the total capacity.
According to North Dakota OSHA standards, the forklift operator’s skills must be evaluated regularly. Every forklift operator, no matter how experienced, should be retrained from time to time. Any time an operator is involved in an accident or has a close call, they should receive additional training automatically.
Although forklifts are easy to operate, they represent a significant danger in the workplace. According to a safety consultant, there are a number of ways to minimize forklift injuries and fatalities. Unbalanced loads cause forklifts to tip over, resulting in many accidents and injuries.
To reduce accidents, the OSHA standards require special training for operators. A good forklift training program will take four factors into consideration. These include the operator’s skills, the operator’s level of prior knowledge, and the type of forklift. The training program should also address any specific hazards found in that particular workplace.
Employers may not realize the true cost of neglecting to instigate a work place safety program. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, known as OSHA oversees safety in the workplace in North Dakota, and their recent reports do not paint a pretty picture regarding the statistics for work place accidents.
The cost of accidents in the work place can be high for employers. There may be lost work days, which may result in having to bring in extra staff, law suits, and medical bills. Add to that the loss of goodwill that may occur between the workers and their employer and you can see why a comprehensive work safety program could be beneficial to everyone.
The North Dakota worker safety statistics show just how common place work related injuries are. During 2005 there were 270,890 reported back injuries, with over half a million workers suffering from strains, sprains or tears. In total, there were 255,750 reported incidents of workers falling in their place of employment.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the U.S. Occupational and Health Administration, or OSHA is called to investigate millions of work place injuries across the United States, including North Dakota.
Employer and Worker education is the key to good work place safety practices. Both workers and employers should be made aware of safety procedures on a regular basis. The easiest way to do this is by instigated a worker safety program, and OSHA provides an excellent resource pack to help with this.
The OSHA Workplace Safety Pack includes information on workplace ergonomics as well as three posters. These are the Workstation Safety Tips Poster, the slips, Trips and Falls poster and the Lifting Safely Poster. All the information in this pack is presented in a clear and easy to understand manner.
There were 4,214,200 injuries in the workplace throughout the United States during the year 2005. Tragically, of these 5,702 were fatal injuries. There were 1,234,700 working days lost due to accidents at work. These figures relate to the private sector only.
I find that employers and employees alike are often interested in learning more about the labor laws that may apply to them. My research shows that North Dakota labor laws contain a number of important provisions that you might want to be aware of if you live or work in the state.
One area of the North Dakota labor law that may be of interest is the law regarding the payment of wages and work hour issues. North Dakota has a minimum wage equal to the federal minimum wage of $5.15. Tipped employees may be paid a lower hourly wage of $3.45 per hour, but their total hourly earnings with tips included must be equal to or greater than the minimum wage. Wages in the state must be paid at least once a month. Employees who are separated from their job for any reason must be paid by the next regular pay day. Also, any unused vacation time must be paid with an employee’s final paycheck. Finally, any employee who works five or more hours must be given a 30 minute unpaid, uninterrupted break if there are two or more employees on duty at any given time.
Residents of the state should also be glad to know that North Dakota labor law contains a number of anti-discrimination protections. Employers in North Dakota may not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, pregnancy, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, or “participation in lawful activity off the employer‘s premises during non-working hours which is not in direct conflict with the essential business related functions of the employer.” Sexual harassment is also strictly prohibited under state law.
Child labor laws are another topic many people have questions about. North Dakota labor laws require work permits for minors under 16, but not for 16 and 17 year olds. Work hour restrictions are also placed on 14 and 15 year olds, along with restrictions on the types of jobs they may hold. No such restrictions are placed on 16 and 17 year old minors under state law, though there are federal provisions that may apply.
These are just a few topics covered under the North Dakota Labor Laws. Other laws cover topics such as labor unions and labor disputes, the licensing of employment agencies, and so on. An up-to-date listing of North Dakota’s labor laws, as well as relevant federal laws, may be found on the North Dakota Complete Labor Law Poster.
Those of us that live here may not realize that there is help for us in the North Dakota Labor Law Board. It can be rather challenging to understand just what this board can provide for us because most of us just do not realize that it is there for our benefit. Yet, there are many things that it can and does provide to those that need it. Whether you are an employer in the state of North Dakota or you are an employee, you will find the necessary help that you need here. Even if you are unemployed within the state, this is the board to turn to for your necessary help.
For the employees of the state of North Dakota, there can be help of all types available. First, those that are unemployed in the state will find necessary help to aid them in finding the employment that they are qualified for. Currently, the state’s unemployment rate is set at just 3.5 percent which is a good amount under the national unemployment rate of 4.8 percent. Yet, those that are looking for work can come to the North Dakota Labor Law Board for help. They can provide such things as necessary training, funding for unemployment, job placement help and even help to insure that you have what you need while unemployed.
For the employers in the state of North Dakota, we can come to the Labor Law Board for specific things such as help in knowing what laws need to be adhered to such as those governing child labor, the minimum wage, the work week, as well as the necessary safety and well being laws that are in place for those that we hire. All of these things are crucial to the well being of those that live in the state. Yet, few of us realize that there is a wealth of information available to us.