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.

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