Brushing Up On Forklift Safety
 
January 1st, 2006

January-February 2006 According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), nearly 100 workers are killed and another 20,000 injured in forklift-related incidents every year.

The forklifts you use daily to load, unload and move materials in the warehouse are potentially dangerous tools when used without the right safeguards or training.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), nearly 100 workers are killed and another 20,000 injured in forklift-related incidents every year. NIOSH investigations into these incidents indicate that many people are unaware of the risks of working with and around forklifts and/or are not following OSHA standards.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards for the use and maintenance of powered industrial trucks and forklifts have been in effect since 1999. Requirements include operator training and licensing and periodic evaluations of operator performance. The standard also addresses specific training requirements for truck operation, loading, seat belts, overhead protective structures, alarms and maintenance of industrial trucks. Refresher training is required if the operator is observed operating the truck in an unsafe manner, is involved in an accident or near miss, or is assigned a different type of truck.

OSHA requirements for forklift operation

• On all grades, the load and load engaging means shall be tilted back, if applicable, and raised only as far as needed to clear the road surface. The forks shall not be raised or lowered while the forklift is moving.

• Under all travel conditions, the truck shall be operated at a speed that will permit it to be brought safely to a stop.

• The operator shall slow down and sound the horn at cross aisles and other locations where vision is obstructed.

• The operator is required to look toward and keep a clear view of the travel path.

• Unauthorized personnel shall not be permitted to ride on powered industrial trucks. A safe place to ride shall be provided where the riding of trucks is authorized.

• Forklift trucks shall not be driven up to anyone standing in front of a bench or other fixed object.

Maintenance is key

In addition to operator training, OSHA requires that all industrial trucks be examined before being placed into service. They shall not be placed into service if the examination shows any condition adversely affecting the safety of the vehicle. Such examination shall be made at least daily. When industrial trucks are used around the clock, they shall be examined after each shift. When defects are found, they shall be immediately reported and corrected. Detailed checklists are available from the OSHA website, www.osha.gov.

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