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.