Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Employee Safety Training/Sample Inspection Checklist

A powered industrial truck is defined as a mobile, power-driven vehicle used to carry, push, pull, lift, stack or tier material. Forklifts are one type of powered industrial truck used by many employers. There are many types and sizes of powered industrial trucks designed for different jobs. Many are named by the function they perform, such as high lift trucks, counterbalanced trucks, rider trucks and forklift trucks. Powered industrial trucks, also known as “forklifts” are used throughout many workplaces.

Statistics

Each year in the United States, nearly 100 workers are killed and another 20,000 are seriously injured in forklift-related incidents [BLS 1997, 1998]. Forklift overturns represent about 25% of all forklift-related deaths and represent the leading cause of fatalities involving forklifts. Injuries also occur when forklift trucks are inadvertently driven off loading docks or fall between docks and an unsecured trailer. Workers can also be injured when struck by a forklift, or if they fall while on elevated pallets. In most cases, both employee injuries and property damage can be attributed to lack of safe operating procedures, lack of safety-rule enforcement, and insufficient or inadequate training.

Follow OSHA Procedures

Federal law requires that forklift drivers be properly trained in and certified for operation of the forklifts they will be using. You can find these requirements in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard for powered industrial trucks 29 CFR 1910.178 and for forklifts used in the construction industry 29 CFR 1926.600 and 29 CFR 1926.602. The standard requires a written forklift safety program.

Training

It is an employer’s responsibility to ensure that every operator is competent to operate a forklift safely. Here are several possible steps to follow:

  • After participating in a formal training program in the form of lecture, discussion, or classroom presentation, an operator must successfully complete a written evaluation.
  • Forklift operators must participate in practical training which includes a demonstration of safe driving practices by the trainer. As part of the practical training, operators must also practice vehicle operation exercises.
  • Operators must successfully complete a “hands on” performance evaluation.
  • Employers must keep training records. A forklift operator must be re-evaluated at least once every three years to ensure they remain competent to operate a forklift safely.

Effective forklift training should, at a minimum, address these four major areas:

  • General hazards that apply to the operation of all or most forklifts (including fuel and battery handling)
  • Hazards associated with the operation of particular types of trucks
  • General workplace hazards such as lighting and surface conditions
  • Hazards of the particular workplace where the vehicle operates (including hazardous locations such as ramps, docks, narrow aisles, trailers, rail cars and closed environments)

The OSHA standard addresses specific training requirements for truck operation, loading, seat belts, overhead protective structures, alarms and maintenance of forklifts. Operator training should also 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. Refresher training is required if an operator is found to be using the forklift in an unsafe manner, is involved in an accident or near miss, or is assigned a different type of truck.

Inspection and Maintenance

All forklifts should be examined before being placed in service. Daily examinations should be made and recorded in a written report or checklist. Your operators should take a few minutes at the beginning of each day or shift to inspect their forklift and complete the pre-inspection report or checklist.

Forklifts that are used on a round-the-clock basis should be examined before each shift. If any condition which adversely affects the safety of the vehicle is found, it shouldn’t be placed in service. Your employees should report any defects immediately for correction.

Forklift Safety Checklist

An effective forklift safety training program requires employer and worker compliance with OSHA regulations, consensus standards and equipment maintenance. Safety checklists, similar to the following sample, can help raise forklift safety awareness and safe practices and also help to prevent forklift accidents:

  • Tires are inflated and free of excessive wear or damage.
  • Forks and mast are not bent, worn or cracked.
  • Load back rest extension is in place and not bent, cracked or loose.
  • Overhead guard is in place and not bent, cracked or loose.
  • Attachments (if equipped) operate OK and are not damaged.
  • Forklift body is free of excessive lint, grease or oil.
  • Hydraulic oil is full and free of leaks.
  • Battery connections are tight.
  • Covers over battery and other hazardous parts are in place and secure.
  • Load rating plate is present and readable.
  • Warning decals and operator's manual are present and readable.
  • Seat belt or restraint is accessible and not damaged, oily or dirty.
  • Motor runs smooth without sudden accelerations.
  • Horn works.
  • Turn signal (if equipped) operates correctly.
  • Lights (head, tail and warning) work and are aimed correctly.
  • Gauges and instruments are working.
  • Lift and lower operates smoothly without excess drift.
  • Tilt operates smoothly without excessive drift or "chatter."
  • Control levers are labeled, not loose or binding and freely return to neutral.
  • Battery charge level is OK while holding full forward tilt.
  • Steering is smooth and responsive, free of excessive play.
  • Brakes work and function smoothly without grabbing. No fluid leaks.
  • Parking brake will hold the forklift on an incline.
  • Backup alarm (if equipped) works.

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