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.
WARNING!
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.

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