Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fall Protection Requirements for elevated platforms

Question 1: In regards to the use of fall arrest equipment and the use of body belts, do OSHA regulations require that a body belt be attached to a lanyard and used to protect personnel against falls from elevated "operator-up" high lift truck platforms, or do the standards state that a 5-point harness must be worn as a part of a fall arrest device?

Response: OSHA's powered industrial trucks (PITs) standard, contained in 29 CFR 1910.178, does not have provisions that require either the use of a body harness or safety belt to protect personnel against falls from elevated platforms. However, in the absence of a specific standard, OSHA can enforce Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) -- which requires employers to protect employees from serious recognized hazards. Industry consensus standards, such as ASME B56.1-2000 Safety Standard for Low Lift and High Lift Trucks would be taken into consideration by OSHA when determining whether a hazard is "recognized" and that there is a feasible means of abating such a hazard. Section 4.17.2(c) of ASME 56.1-2000 requires that whenever an operator-up high lift truck is used to elevate personnel, restraining means such as railings, chains, cable, body belt(s) with lanyard(s), or deceleration devices, etc. are in place and properly used. Although the ASME standard calls for the use of body belts, OSHA strongly encourages employers to use body harnesses in place of body belts. You should also be aware that, as part of a rulemaking to revise Subpart D of 29 CFR 1910, OSHA has proposed the inclusion of a fall protection requirement that would apply to work platforms used in conjunction with powered industrial trucks. See the
No. 68 Federal Register 23528 (May 2, 2003). A copy of the relevant portion this Federal Register is enclosed.

Question 2: Can OSHA give me information on fines and the circumstances surrounding the fines, if a plant is found to be violating the fall arrest guidelines set forth by OSHA?

Response: During the course of an inspection, if an employer is found to expose his or her employees to fall hazards which could result in serious injuries, citations would be issued along with proposed penalties. The amount of proposed penalties varies, depending on the type of violation: Willful, Serious, Other-Than-Serious, Failure-to-Abate, and Repeat; and on the employer's size, good faith, previous history of violations, and the gravity of the violation. For example, OSHA may propose a penalty of up to $7,000 for each serious violation, whereas penalties for each willful violation may range from $5,000 to $70,000. Our penalty calculation procedures also give consideration for any employer with 250 or fewer employees. Normally, a reduction of 60 percent may be applied to penalties if the employer has 25 employees or fewer; 40 percent if the employer has 26-100 employees; and 20 percent if the employer has 101-250 employees. Although no reduction for size is applied if an employer has more than 250 employees, the employer may still be accorded up to a 10 percent reduction for a lack of previous violations, and a 25 percent reduction for "good faith," which mainly depends upon the effectiveness of the employer's safety and health program. When these three factors are combined, it is possible for the smallest employers to receive up to a 95 percent reduction in the initial monetary penalty. The enclosed OSHA 3000 publication, entitled "Employer Rights and Responsibilities Following an OSHA Inspection," which has additional details on the types of violations and associated penalties, may assist you in understanding our penalty structure associated with different types of violations for which citations are issued.

Monday, November 12, 2012

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

Alerts briefly present new information about occupational illnesses, injuries, and deaths. Alerts urgently request assistance in preventing, solving, and controlling newly identified occupational hazards. Workers, employers, and safety and health professionals are asked to take immediate action to reduce risks and implement controls.

Notice to the Reader

The first edition of this Alert applied only to forklifts operated in a sitting position. However, this new edition includes a recommendation for employers and operators of stand-up forklifts with rear-entry access. In addition, the revised Alert contains several minor changes in wording to improve clarity.
Workers who operate or work near forklifts may be struck or crushed by the machine or the load being handled.
Workers: If you operate or work near forklifts, take these steps to protect yourself.
  • Do not operate a forklift unless you have been trained
  • Use seatbelts if they are available
  • Report to your supervisor any damage or problems that occur to a forklift during your shift
  • Do not jump from an overturning, sit-down type forklift. Stay with the truck, holding on firmly and leaning 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 or ramps
  • On grades, tilt the load back 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 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 cross aisles and other locations where vision is obstructed
  • Look toward the travel path 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, set the parking brake, lower the forks or lifting carriage, 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
  • Elevate a worker on a platform only when 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 worker(s) on the platform
  • Do not drive to another location with the work platform elevated
sit-down forklift
Typical sit-down type forklift
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) requests assistance in preventing injuries and deaths of workers who operate or work near forklifts. Most fatalities occur when a worker is crushed by a forklift that has overturned or fallen from a loading dock.
NIOSH investigations of forklift-related deaths indicate that many workers and employers (1) may not be aware of the risks of operating or working near forklifts and (2) are not following the procedures set forth in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards, consensus standards, or equipment manufacturer's guidelines.
This Alert describes seven incidents resulting in the deaths of seven workers who were either operating or working near forklifts. In each incident, the deaths could have been prevented by using proper safety procedures and equipment and by following the provisions of the OSHA standards.
NIOSH requests that editors of trade journals, safety and health officials, industry associations, unions, and employers in all industries bring the recommendations in this Alert to the attention of all workers who are at risk.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Platform Attachment, Written Approval?

Background: The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Safety Standard for Low Lift and High Lift Trucks B56.1-2000 contains specific requirements for elevating personnel on powered industrial trucks. For example, operator-up highlift trucks (order pickers, etc.) are addressed by paragraphs 4.17.1, 4.17.2, and 7.36. Trucks with work platforms that do not fit that category are covered by paragraphs 4.17.2, 4.17.3, and 7.36.3.

Question: Does 29 CFR 1910.178(a)(4) require an employer to obtain prior written approval from the original equipment manufacturer for the attachment of a work platform that meets the applicable requirements as outlined in paragraphs 4.17.2, 4.17.3, and 7.36.3 of ASME B56.1-2000?

Reply: Yes, written approval from the manufacturer of a powered industrial truck is required for modifications and/or additions if the modifications and/or additions affect the capacity and safe operation of the truck. However, please be aware that OSHA would consider the lack of manufacturer's approval to be a de minimis violation if the employer has obtained written approval from a qualified Registered Professional Engineer after receiving no response or a negative response from the powered industrial truck manufacturer. If the manufacturer's response was negative, then the engineer, prior to granting approval for the modification or addition, would need to perform a safety analysis and address all safety and/or structural issues contained in the manufacturer's disapproval.

Even where the addition of a work platform to a powered industrial truck is permitted under §1910.178(a)(4) or the de minimis policy stated above, employers must also address the fall hazards that result from the use of elevated platforms. OSHA has proposed revisions to Subpart D of 29 CFR Part 1910 that include, in a new section §1910.31, requirements for mobile elevating work platforms, mobile ladder stands, and powered industrial truck platforms. (See 55 FR 13396, April 10, 1990, and 68 FR 23530, May 2, 2003.) Until a final rule is promulgated, an employer's failure to prevent or correct, to the extent feasible, fall hazards from elevated work platforms might be citable as a violation of Section 5(a)(1) of the OSHAct. OSHA's evaluation of the existence of a serious, recognized hazard and the availability of feasible means of abatement would include consideration of the relevant provisions of the ASME B56.1-2000 standard.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Are there requirements for sound level of a horn on a forklift?

Question: When a forklift has a weak sounding horn, what determines whether it should be replaced or not?

Reply: OSHA's standard 29 CFR 1910.178(q)(7) requires that industrial trucks be inspected at least daily and not be placed into service if the examination shows any condition that may adversely affect the safety of the industrial truck. Additionally, §1910.178(p)(1) states, "If at any time a powered industrial truck is found to be in need of repair, defective, or in any way unsafe, the truck shall be taken out of service until it has been restored to safe operating condition." If the industrial truck is equipped with a horn as its warning device, then OSHA would consider the truck as being unsafe if the sound level of the horn has deteriorated to a level that can no longer be heard above the ambient noise in the workplace.

In addition, the employer must meet the requirements in §1910.178(q), Maintenance of industrial trucks. Specifically, §1910.178(q)(5) states, "All parts of any such industrial truck requiring replacement shall be replaced only by parts equivalent as to safety with those used in the original design."