The tragic death of a Utah forklift operator points up the instability of forklifts and the need for training in maneuvering the machines.
A Utah OSHA report says many forklift deaths and injuries are caused by the instability of fork trucks.
That was why the forklift operator in Utah was killed. The driver – a worker for a car dealership – was helping a nearby business to unload goods from a tractor-trailer to a pickup truck on a Friday in July. The forklift driver put a large item onto the pickup’s bed, then backed the machine up quickly, at the same time sharply turning the wheel. The fork truck flipped over on its side, throwing the worker out. The forklift’s overhead protection cage came down on him, crushing him.
OSHA received a report, investigated the incident, and determined that the driver had not received forklift operation training, that the machine had no seatbelt, and that there was no other kind of driver restraint. What’s more, when the driver put the forklift in reverse, the forks were still in the “up” position. Raised forks add to instability, and it is important that drivers lower them before putting their forklifts in reverse. The “Employer’s Guide to Material Handling Safety” states that turning the machine too sharply while the forks are up can result in the fork truck’s tipping over. It can happen even while driving slowly and without a load on the forks. If the driver had received training, the tragic accident might have been avoided.
On average, 100 workers die or are seriously hurt every year in fork truck accidents, according to statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor. They were usually due to instability and many of them could have been prevented.
Forklifts appear deceptively easy to operate. Some employees expect them to operate like cars simply because they have four wheels. But that’s not the case. In fact, the rear axle is a pivot, designed to give the machine more maneuverable. Because of that, the forklift’s weight rests not on four points, but on three.
Both employers and employees should realize how important it is to protect Utah worker safety. No employee wants to be injured or killed on the job. No employer wants to have an employee injured or killed. But workplace injuries aren’t rare. Millions of workplace accidents are investigated each year by the U.S. Occupational and Health Administration.
Workplace accidents can cost employees and employers alike. Wages are lost, medical bills can be expensive, time at work is missed, and lawsuits may result. The last full year for which statistics were available is 2005. That year, 4,214,200 workplace accidents were reported nationwide. One repercussion of these accidents is that employees missed 1,234,700 workdays. Sadly, 5,702 employees died as the result of workplace accidents.
These numbers don’t portray the entire picture. The statistics do not include injuries to employees of non-profit organizations. Nor do these figures include the injuries to government employees, firefighters, paramedics, and police officers.
Utah worker safety is overseen by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, also known as OSHA. This organization stresses the importance of employee education in reducing and preventing workplace accidents.
OSHA has a tool that can help employers promote employee safety. The OSHA Workplace Safety Pack has information that is easy-to-understand and explains ways in which employees can prevent certain injuries. Included in the OSHA Workplace Safety Pack is information about workplace ergonomics, a Slips, Trips, and Falls poster, a Lifting Safely poster, and a Workplace Safety Tips poster.
Teaching employees techniques to prevent injuries and accidents is vital. For instance, the number of tears, sprains, and strains suffered by employees totaled 503,530. Moreover, 270,890 back injuries were reported. In addition, 255,750 employees fell when they were at work.
Many people may not be aware that falls, slips, and trips in the workplace can result in fatalities. Only accidents that occur while employees are driving result in more deaths than trips, falls, and slips.
ATVs or All-Terrain Vehicles were once used only recreationally. Today, they are increasingly being used in a number of industries – sometimes with deadly results.
The danger posed by All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) in the workplace was the subject of a recent Utah worker safety alert. Although many people only think of ATVs as recreational vehicles, some industries use these vehicles in the workplace. For instance, facilities management companies, agricultural businesses, construction firms, and law enforcement agencies use ATVs in the workplace.
The number of ATV accidents in the workplace is on the rise. Within a 9-year span, 113 people died in ATV accidents in the workplace. Moreover, other workers were injured badly enough to miss at least one day of work. A total of 1625 accidents occurred during the past 9 years.
These ATV accidents occur for many reasons. Although ATVs appear cute, they can be difficult to drive. Even though drivers may be licensed and have experience driving cars or motorcycles, they still may experience problems driving ATVs. For instance, if drivers attempt to go up a steep incline or turn a corner sharply, the ATV can flip over, causing injuries.
As more industries start to use ATVs, accidents are becoming more common. Industries such as facilities management, agriculture, construction, and law enforcement use ATVs. Many times, the accident happens because the ATV is overloaded. ATVs can only hold a certain amount of cargo, and if the maximum weight limit is exceeded, the vehicle can become more unstable.
Allowing passengers on the ATV is another problem encountered in the workplace. ATVs are designed to carry only one person, the driver. Passengers should never be allowed on the ATV because this additional weight can cause an accident to occur.
To further prevent accidents, workers should wear helmets and be trained on how to safely operate the ATV. Just because workers are licensed to drive cars or motorcycles doesn’t mean they can safely operate an ATV. ATVs handle differently than cars, so workers should be trained specifically to drive them. Employers should strive to reduce the number of ATV accidents that happen in the workplace. Proper training of employees, along with safety equipment such as helmets, should help.
As college students return to school and part-time jobs, State Fire Marshals urge everyone to pay attention to the Utah labor laws poster at their place of employment. Fire Marshal Stephen K. Woltz recently reminded all college students – and their employers — to remember the importance of fire safety and prevention as they return to school.
Many employers fail to realize that they may be in violation of the law by not displaying the federal and Utah labor laws posters. Woltz added that a fire safety and prevention program is essential for incoming and new students, as well as organizations that provide housing. Students should be reminded of the factors contributing to fires and how they can be prevented.
“Students, often away from home for the first time, severely underestimate the danger of fire and frequently make decisions that place themselves at risk,” said Marshal Woltz. “Whether students live in dormitories or off-campus housing, they should always keep in mind that a fire emergency can endanger anyone. Knowing and practicing fire safety and prevention at all times can mean the difference between life and death.” Fire safety is as important in the workplace as it is in the dorm.
Marshal Woltz encourages students to:
Know the emergency exits and fire safety procedures at work, school and dorm
Install a smoke detector on each level of your residence and inside the bedroom or sleeping area.
Check your smoke detector monthly and change the batteries at least once a semester.
Never remove your smoke detector batteries because of cooking smoke or the need for a battery elsewhere, such as a flashlight, game or other electronic device.
Know your workplace and residence hall fire escape plan. Each student should know two ways out – one normal route through hallways and stairways and one alternative route.
Extinguish all smoking materials, candles and incense thoroughly. Never leave them unattended.
Clean up immediately after parties and take all trash outside. Designate a non-impaired “event monitor” to be in charge of the clean up.
Do not overload electrical outlets or use extension cords.
Take every fire and smoke alarm at work or in the dorm seriously
In the state of Utah, the laws governing overtime have to be found elsewhere, and that elsewhere is the federal laws on overtime, or those regulations found in the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Either you can track down this type of information on the federal law, for short the FLSA, from the U.S. Department of Labor, at the Wage and Hour Division, whose Utah location and address is at Eagle Gate Tower West, 10 East South Temple, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake City, Utah 84133, and whose home page on the Web is at http://www.dol.gov.
Or we can just consider the federal law here real quick and save you the effort. Of course, in this little space here in the blog, we may not do the Fair Labor Standards Act justice, because it is a rather big regulation with many exceptions and clauses.
However, the basics of it are pretty simple. The FLSA states that employers across the United States must pay their employees time and a half pay over their normal hourly wage for any time spent working over 40 hours in a week. That’s pretty basic stuff, right?
Where the nuances come in is exactly what employers in Utah must follow the federal law, because not all of them do. The FLSA is specific to only certain businesses that have interstate business, meaning they have offices outside of Utah or they sell or trade goods and services in and out of Utah. Businesses that bring in more than $500,000 in revenue per year are also required to follow the federal law on overtime.
Certain types of businesses are also mandated to follow overtime regulations in Utah based on the federal regulations. These include hospital type organizations, all sorts of schools, and any government entity. All other businesses are not legally bound under the FLSA to pay overtime.