With around 1.5 million workers in the United States involved in operating forklifts as part of their job, an Ohio worker safety article will be of great interest.
The article, which was written by a safety consultant, highlights the hazards involved in working with forklifts, and points out that they are a common cause of fatalities and serious injuries.
Forklifts, or Powered Industrial Trucks (PITS) as they are also known as, are used widely in most industries. They often have specialized modifications that are attached to them, and these can prove to be one of the hazards concerned. Workers need to realize that attachments can alter the load bearing capacity of the forklift. To this end, the tags or decals on the equipment should be changed to signify the change in capacity.
Attachments commonly used on forklifts are hoppers, drum carriers, rug rams, drum rotators, cylinder caddies, drum grippers and boom extensions. These are all common place in the manufacturing industry.
Under current worker safety standards, if a forklift operator is involved in an accident or “near miss” they are required to undergo retraining. This also applies if an operator is seen to be operating a forklift in an unsafe manner. The OSHA standards also state that all forklift operators should undergo retraining and evaluation on a regular basis.
When carrying a load using a forklift, the operator should ensure that it is carried as low as possible while moving. Any change in the steering, for example, if it seems “light” can mean that the operator has little control over the equipment.
Adding extra weight to the back of the forklift does not compensate for an instable vehicle. It has the effect of shifting the forklifts center of gravity to the rear axel, which is an unstable power pivot point.
Forklift operators need to be aware of load carrying hazards involved in their job. The weight of any attachments must be calculated and counted as part of their overall load.
There are a half-million abandoned mines out there, and they pose a threat to Ohio worker safety. Mining sites, both active and abandoned, can be a threat to Ohio worker safety. Many are also a danger to children and people in casual outdoor activities. Since 1999, more than 200 have been killed in accidents on mining property.
The U.S. Labor Department’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) have adopted a “Stay Out – Stay Alive” program. The program is an attempt to curb the problem by warning about the deadly dangers that can befall workers or others who find themselves on mine property.
Children are among those killed in mine accidents. Workers from unrelated industries may fall into mine shafts. Or they may suffer other types of accidents on the properties of active or abandoned mines.
Richard Stickler, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, says there are about 500,000 abandoned mines and another 14,000 active ones in the U.S. Many of them contain hidden hazards and the outcome can be deadly for those not trained to work in mines. “That’s why we urge workers, hikers, bikers, rock hounds and swimmers are being urged to ‘Stay Out – Stay Alive.’”
The “Stay Out – Stay Alive” program is fighting these dangers by public service announcements warning people away from mistakenly trespassing on mine property. They also plan to send experts in mine safety and health into schools and youth organizations such as scouting groups to discuss with youngsters the dangers of playing in and around mines.
Some of the dangers of underground abandoned mines are a threat to both workers and explorers. Shafts may be hundreds of feet deep, hidden beneath a deceptive layer of boards that can often be rotted or decaying. The boards may break under light weight. Tunnels may cave in. They may be flooded. They may have poisonous snakes or insects. There may be deadly gases. Explosives may be scattered across the property. These misfired or unused explosives, such as blasting caps, can be set off by a mere jiggle.
If you have any doubt that OSHA saves lives, here’s more proof. An OSHA official removed three workers from a construction project in the Cleveland area just minutes before a roof collapsed on April 10. OSHA Compliance Officer Joe Schwarz was responding to an anonymous complaint when he paid an unexpected visit to the worksite on Normandy Park Road. A preschool was being constructed at the site. The exterior walls were up and half of the roof had been built. However, Schwarz quickly noticed that the building was not properly braced. This placed the workers on high beams as well as those inside the structure at risk. Schwarz quickly issued an order to stop work. Minutes later, the walls collapsed and the roof fell in.
While OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, often enforces rules about Ohio worker safety, most don’t have such immediate and dramatic results. Fortunately, due to Schwarz’s quick thinking, none of the workers was killed or even seriously injured.
Here’s a similar incident from Texas. In Houston, on August 8, two window washers were suspended from an 11-story building at Greenway Plaza when their scaffold broke, leaving them dangling high above the ground. Fortunately, both men were hooked to the proper safety equipment. They remained aloft, dangling by their harnesses, until rescued by firefighters. If the two men tied their safety harness to the scaffold – a common OSHA violation – they would surely have been killed. Instead, their separate safety equipment kept them safe.
Safety precautions do pay off. Last September, a worker at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin slipped from a steel beam six stories above the ground. A fall from such a height is almost always fatal, but this worker didn’t suffer a scratch. The employee of National Riggers and Erectors, in Michigan, was wearing full safety protection including a fall harness. He was back at work shortly after being rescued. Less than 2 months later, on the same project, a second worker slipped from a beam. He, too, was saved by his safety protection equipment. OSHA regulations for the project required 100% use of fall protection above a height of 6 ft. Strict enforcement by OSHA likely saved these two worker’s lives.
Military workers required to serve their country can rest easy in the knowledge that their civilian jobs will be there for them when they return because of a law protecting their rights. The law protecting them is the 1994 Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). The purpose of the act is to protect service members, clarify the law, and improve enforcement.
Regulations for the Ohio USERRA have been recently been updated and affect both employers and employees. Updated regulations were recently released by the Dept. of Labor.
Employers are required by law to update their USERRA posters when regulations have been changed to make sure accurate information is on display, even if they don’t have any employees who serve in the military. For this reason, this is the ideal time for employers to update their USERRA posters.
USERRA regulations deal with all aspect of civilian employment for military service members. Some of the main regulations deal with the following.
- Job reinstatement. Veterans returning to their civilian jobs after military service must be reinstated to their civilian jobs if their cumulative military service is five years or less. Job retraining must also be provided if necessary. In some cases a veteran may have an additional two years of job security if he or she has been injuring in the line of duty or during training.
- Benefits. Workers performing military service are entitled to the same benefits awarded to other individuals on on-military leaves of absence, including maternity leave and temporary disability.
- Job seniority. The “escalator principle” states that an employee must be reinstated with the same seniority, status and pay as if he or she had never been absent for military service. Benefits and other rights, such as promotions, determined by seniority must also remain the same. The term “escalator principle” can be explained by imagining career advancement as a ride on an escalator. The employee doesn’t lose his or her place on the escalator just because he or she served in the military.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no, it’s an accident waiting to happen. Or maybe, it’s a recreational vehicle. But the number of job-related ATV deaths and injuries is going up. Workplace ATV accidents may even exceed recreation-related mishaps in the near future.
More and more All-Terrain Vehicles are being used in farming, construction, facilities management, and law enforcement, among other jobs.
ATVs can be tricky to drive. Combine low-pressure, fat tires with handlebar manipulation and a motor, and you’ve got a recipe for accidents. Even expert drivers with car and truck licenses may find them difficult to maneuver.
The All-Terrain Vehicles may be quick to overturn on steep inclines, and sharp turns can result in rollovers as well. Overloading is a problem with ATVs. They are not designed for heavy moving, and are usually equipped with racks for luggage or other light loads. The overloaded ATV is particularly hazardous on a steep hill or other incline.
The Ohio Worker Safety alert stresses that drivers should adhere to the manufacturer’s operational guidelines for weight limit and numbers of passengers when driving an ATV. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind. First, wear a helmet. Second, receive training to operate an ATV, because even if you are licensed for car or truck operation, the ATV will handle differently. OSHA has a set of guidelines for off-road motorized vehicle with low-pressure tires, handlebars for steering, and a seat straddled by the driver. The vehicle may also include a storage rack at back or front for limited carrying.
The dangers of driving an ATV in the workplace are clearly not theoretical. OSHA statistics show that the number of fatal accidents has climbed steadily upward since 1992. In 9 years alone, there were 113 workplace deaths on ATVs. Injuries in accidents are often severe enough to require an employee to miss a day or more of work. In the past 9 years there were 1,625 such mishaps.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission also keeps statistics. According to that organization, which has compiled numbers of ATV accidents during recreational use, fatalities were up significantly in a 22-year period – from 29 in 1982 to 470 in 2004.