Thursday, March 19, 2009

Seat Belts on Forklifts

OSHA requirements about seat belts is one of the most common questions pertaining to forklifts. OSHA has several basic obligations that explain its regulations and interpretations about seat belts on forklifts.

1. All forklift operators must use a seat belt if one is on the forklift. This basically includes ALL sit-down style forklifts. Stand-up style forklift will not have them.

2. All forklift which were originally equipped (from the factory) with seat belts, must still have them in good operating condition. If a sit-down style forklift did not come with a seat belt from the factory then employers are required to take advantage of "retrofit" programs to obtain and install a seat belt. Since all major manufacturers have a "retrofit" program, all sit-down forklifts are required to have an operational seat belt.

The basic conclusion is that all sit-down style forklifts should have a seat belt and all operators should be using them.

Click here for more information about forklift safety training.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Forklift Fatalities - part 7

This case was investigated by the NIOSH Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program. This case report was selected it represented one of the most common types of fatal forklift incidents: (1) forklift overturns, (2) workers struck, crushed, or pinned by a forklift, and (3) falls from a forklift.

Case 7-Fall from Forklift

A 47-year-old male assistant warehouse manager was fatally injured while working with a forklift operator to pull tires from a storage rack. The two workers had placed a wooden pallet on the forks of the forklift, and the victim then stood on the pallet. The operator raised the forks and victim 16 feet above a concrete floor to the top of the storage rack. The victim had placed a few tires on the pallet when the operator noticed that the pallet was becoming unstable. The victim lost his balance and fell, striking his head on the floor.

Contributing factors to this accident may include (but are not limited to) lack of sufficient forklift safety training and operator error.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Forklift Fatalities - part 6

This case was investigated by the NIOSH Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program. This case report was selected it represented one of the most common types of fatal forklift incidents: (1) forklift overturns, (2) workers struck, crushed, or pinned by a forklift, and (3) falls from a forklift.

Case 6-Fall from Forklift

A 61-year-old male maintenance manager of a shelter for the homeless died after falling 7 feet from a safety platform that had been elevated by a forklift. The victim had been raised in a steel-framed, cage-type safety platform that had not been secured to the forklift. The victim removed a fluorescent light bulb from its fixture and stepped to one side of the safety platform. When the victim shifted his weight from the center of the platform to the outer edge, the safety platform toppled off the forks. The victim fell about 7 feet, struck his head on a concrete floor, and was subsequently struck by the steel safety platform.

Contributing factors to this accident may include (but are not limited to) lack of sufficient forklift safety training and operator error.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Forklift Fatalities - part 5

This case was investigated by the NIOSH Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program. This case report was selected it represented one of the most common types of fatal forklift incidents: (1) forklift overturns, (2) workers struck, crushed, or pinned by a forklift, and (3) falls from a forklift.

Case 5-Fall from Forklift

A 36-year-old male electric-line technician was fatally injured after falling from and being run over by a forklift. While the operator was driving the forklift, the victim was riding on the forks. As the operator approached an intersection, he slowed down and turned his head to check for oncoming traffic. When he turned his head back, he could not see the victim. He stopped the forklift, dismounted and found the victim underneath the right side of the forklift.

Contributing factors to this accident may include (but are not limited to) lack of sufficient forklift safety training and operator error.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Forklift Fatalities - part 4

This case was investigated by the NIOSH Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program. This case report was selected it represented one of the most common types of fatal forklift incidents: (1) forklift overturns, (2) workers struck, crushed, or pinned by a forklift, and (3) falls from a forklift.

Case 4-Worker Struck by Forklift

A 39-year-old female punch press operator at a computer components manufacturer was fatally injured while performing normal work tasks at her station. A forklift was traveling in reverse at high speed toward the victim's work station. A witness observed the forklift strike a metal scrap bin (about 3 by 5 by 3½ feet), propelling it toward the punch press station. The bin hit the press and rebounded toward the forklift. There it was hit once again and shoved back against the corner of the press, striking and crushing the victim against the press.

Contributing factors to this accident may include (but are not limited to) lack of separation or barriers between pedestrians and forklifts, lack of sufficient forklift safety training and operator error.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Forklift Fatalities - part 3

This case was investigated by the NIOSH Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program. This case report was selected it represented one of the most common types of fatal forklift incidents: (1) forklift overturns, (2) workers struck, crushed, or pinned by a forklift, and (3) falls from a forklift.

Case 3-Forklift Overturn

A 41-year-old male laborer was fatally injured when the sit-down type forklift he was operating fell off a loading dock and pinned him under the overhead guard. The forklift was not equipped with a seat belt. The loading dock had large cracks in the surface and was in need of extensive repair. It was raining when the victim left the storage building to lift a load from the back of a pickup truck. Evidence indicates that either the victim's forklift was too close to the outer edge of the loading dock (which crumbled) or the right front tire was caught in a large crack in the loading dock, causing the forklift to overturn.

Contributing factors to this accident may include (but are not limited to) deficient driving surface maintenance, lack of a seat belt, lack of sufficient forklift safety training and operator error.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Forklift Fatalities - part 2

This case was investigated by the NIOSH Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program. This case report was selected it represented one of the most common types of fatal forklift incidents: (1) forklift overturns, (2) workers struck, crushed, or pinned by a forklift, and (3) falls from a forklift.

Case 2-Forklift Overturn

A 37-year-old shop foreman was fatally injured after the sit-down type forklift he was operating overturned. The victim was turning while backing down an incline with a 4% grade. The forklift was transporting a 3-foot-high, 150-pound stack of cardboard with the forks raised approximately 60 inches off the ground. No one witnessed the incident. The victim was found with his head pinned under the overhead guard. The forklift was not equipped with a seat belt.

Contributing factors to this accident may include (but are not limited to) lack of a seat belt, lack of sufficient forklift safety training and operator error.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Forklift Fatalities - part 1

This case was investigated by the NIOSH Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program. This case report was selected it represented one of the most common types of fatal forklift incidents: (1) forklift overturns, (2) workers struck, crushed, or pinned by a forklift, and (3) falls from a forklift.

Case 1-Forklift Overturn

The 43-year-old president of an advertising sign company was killed while using a sit-down type forklift to unload steel tubing from a flatbed trailer. He was driving the forklift about 5 miles per hour beside the trailer on a concrete driveway with a 3% grade. The victim turned the forklift behind the trailer, and the forklift began to tip over on its side. The victim jumped from the operator's seat to the driveway. When the forklift overturned, the victim's head and neck became pinned to the concrete driveway under the falling-object protective structure (overhead guard). An inspection of the forklift revealed that the right-side rear axle stop was damaged before the incident and was not restricting the lateral sway of the forklift when it turned. Also, slack in the steering mechanism required the operator to turn the steering wheel slightly more than half a revolution before the wheels started to turn. The forklift was not equipped with a seat belt.

Contributing factors to this accident may include (but are not limited to) deficient equipment maintenance, lack of equipment inspection & removal from service, lack of a seat belt, lack of sufficient forklift safety training and operator error.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Preventing Injuries & Deaths around Forklifts - part 3

NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health) has a workplace guide titled:

"Preventing Injuries and Deaths of Workers Who Operate or Work Near Forklifts"

This publication gives employers guidance and assists them in compliance with the OSHA regulations regarding forklifts. The previous posts began to summarize this advice and this post will finish that summary.

Workers

  • Do not operate a forklift unless you have been trained and licensed.
  • Use seat belts if they are available.
  • Report to your supervisor any damage or problems that occur with a forklift during your shift.
  • Do not jump from an overturning, sit-down type forklift. Stay with the truck if lateral or longitudinal tip over occurs. Hold on firmly and lean in the opposite direction of the overturn.
  • Exit from a stand-up type forklift with rear-entry access by stepping backward if a lateral tip over occurs.
  • Use extreme caution on grades, ramps or inclines. Normally you should travel only straight up and down.
  • On all grades, tilt the load back if applicable and raise it only as far as needed to clear the road surface.
  • Do not raise or lower the forks while the forklift is moving.
  • Do not handle loads that are heavier than the rated weight capacity of the forklift.
  • Operate the forklift at a speed that will permit it to be stopped safely.
  • Slow down and sound the horn at intersections and other locations where vision is obstructed.
  • Look toward the path of travel and keep a clear view of it.
  • Do not allow passengers to ride on forklift trucks unless a seat is provided.
  • When dismounting from a forklift, always set the parking brake, lower the forks and neutralize the controls.
  • Do not drive up to anyone standing in front of a bench or other fixed object.
  • Do not use a forklift to elevate workers who are standing on the forks.
  • Do not elevate a worker on a platform unless the vehicle is directly below the work area.
  • Whenever a truck is used to elevate personnel, secure the elevating platform to the lifting carriage or forks of the forklift.
  • Use a restraining means such as rails, chains or a body belt with a lanyard or deceleration device for the person(s) on the platform.
  • Do not drive to another location with the work platform elevated.
For more information about OSHA or forklift safety, please feel free to make a comment on this blog or visit our website: National Safety Compliance

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Preventing Injuries & Deaths around Forklifts - part 2

NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health) has a workplace guide titled:

"Preventing Injuries and Deaths of Workers Who Operate or Work Near Forklifts"

This publication gives employers guidance and assists them in compliance with the OSHA regulations regarding forklifts. The previous post began to summarize this advice and this post will continue that summary.

Forklift Inspection and Maintenance

  • Establish a vehicle inspection and maintenance program.
  • Retrofit old sit-down type forklifts with an operator restraint system (seat belt) if possible.

Lifting Personnel

  • Ensure that operators use only an approved lifting cage and adhere to general safety practices for elevating personnel with a forklift. Also, secure the platform to the lifting carriage or forks.
  • Provide means for personnel on the platform to shut off power to the truck whenever the truck is equipped with vertical only or vertical and horizontal controls for lifting personnel.

Workers on Foot

  • Separate forklift traffic and other workers where possible.
  • Limit some aisles to workers on foot only or forklifts only.
  • Restrict the use of forklifts near time clocks, break rooms, cafeterias and main exits, particularly when the flow of workers on foot is at a peak (such as at the end of a shift or during breaks).
  • Install physical barriers where practical to ensure that workstations are isolated from aisles traveled by forklifts.
  • Evaluate intersections and other blind corners to determine whether overhead dome mirrors could improve the visibility of forklift operators or workers on foot.
  • Make every effort to alert workers when a forklift is nearby. Use horns, audible backup alarms and flashing lights to warn workers and other forklift operators in the area. Flashing lights are especially important in areas where the ambient noise level is high.

Work Environment

  • Ensure that workplace safety inspections are routinely conducted by a person who can identify hazards and conditions that are dangerous to workers. Hazards include obstructions in the aisle, blind corners and intersections and forklifts that come too close to workers on foot. The person who conducts the inspections should have the authority to implement prompt corrective measures.
  • Install the workstations, control panel and equipment away from the aisle when possible. Do not store bins, racks or other materials at corners, intersections or other locations that obstruct the view of operators or workers at workstations.
  • Enforce safe driving practices such as obeying speed limits, stopping at stop signs and slowing down and blowing the horn at intersections.
  • Repair and maintain cracks, crumbling edges and other defects on loading docks, aisles and other operating surfaces.
In the next post we will finalize the summary of the NIOSH recommendations for forklift safety.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Preventing Injuries & Deaths around Forklifts - part 1

NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health) has a workplace guide titled:

"Preventing Injuries and Deaths of Workers Who Operate or Work Near Forklifts"

This publication gives employers guidance and assists them in compliance with the OSHA regulations regarding forklifts. Over the next few posts, we will summarize the recommendations for forklift safety.

Reducing the risk of forklift incidents requires a safe work environment, a safe forklift, comprehensive worker training, safe work practices, and systematic traffic management.

NIOSH recommends that employers and workers comply with OSHA regulations and consensus standards, maintain equipment and take the following measures to prevent injury when operating or working near forklifts.

Worker Training

  • Make sure that workers do not operate a forklift unless they have been trained and licensed.
  • Develop, implement, and enforce a comprehensive written safety program that includes worker training, operator licensure and a timetable for reviewing and revising the program. A comprehensive forklift safety training program is important for preventing injury and death. Operator training should address factors that affect the stability of a forklift—such as the weight and symmetry of the load, the speed at which the forklift is traveling, operating surface, tire pressure and driving behavior.
  • Inform operators of sit-down type forklifts that they can be crushed by the overhead guard or another part of the truck after jumping from the overturning forklift. The operator of a sit-down type forklift should stay with the truck if lateral or longitudinal tip over occurs. The operator should hold on firmly and lean away from the point of impact.
  • Train operators of stand-up type forklifts with rear-entry access to exit from the truck by stepping backward if a lateral tip over occurs.
  • Ensure that operator restraint systems (seat belts) are being used on sit-down type forklifts. Since 1992, forklift manufacturers have been required to equip new sit-down type forklifts with operator restraint systems. Many manufacturers of these forklifts offer restraint systems that can be retrofitted on older forklifts. Many of the fatalities resulting from overturns of sit-down type forklifts might have been prevented if the operator had been restrained. The overhead guard of the forklift is generally the part that crushes the operator's head or torso after he or she falls or jumps outside of the operator's compartment. The risk of being crushed by the overhead guard or another rigid part of the forklift is greatly reduced if the operator of a sit-down type forklift remains inside the operator's compartment. Because many forklifts are not equipped with a restraint system and operator compliance is less than 100% on forklifts equipped with a restraint system, operators of sit-down type forklifts should be instructed not to jump from the operator's compartment but to stay inside by leaning in the opposite direction of the overturn.
  • Train operators to handle asymmetrical loads when their work includes this activity.
In future posts we will continue to summarize the NIOSH recommendations for forklift safety.

Forklift safety training programs are available from:

National Safety Compliance - Forklift Safety Training
CoCoSafe - Forklift Safety Training
Forklift Safety Posters

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Forklift Battery Charging & Eye Wash Stations

A common question that is asked pertains to the OSHA regulations about how close an eyewash station must be to a forklift battery changing/charging station?

OSHA forklift regulation 29 CFR 1910.178 does not have a specific requirement for eyewash facilities, the first aid standard at 29 CFR 1910.151 applies. When necessary, facilities for drenching or flushing the eyes “shall be provided within the work area for immediate emergency use.” In applying these general terms, OSHA would consider the guidelines set by such sources as American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z358.1-1998, Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment, which states, at section 7.4.4, that eyewash facilities are to be located to require no more than 10 seconds to reach but that where a strong acid or caustic is used, the unit should be immediately adjacent to the hazard.

Based upon this interpretation of the OSHA regulations, all facilities should have an eye wash station if a forklift battery charging or changing station presents a risk of exposure to battery acid.

To obtain an OSHA approved eye wash station, click here.

For more information about OSHA regulations about forklifts or for forklift operator safety training, please click here.

If you have any questions or comments about forklift safety, eye wash stations or OSHA safety regulations, please feel free to comment about this blog. A National Safety Compliance representative will be glad to answer your questions.