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There is an estimate of 175,000 employees work in over 7,000 warehouses across the nation. Warehouse operations provide many risks and hazards for workers. One of which is the forklift. In the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) most common citations for warehousing establishment, the forklift is at number one.

Approximately 100 employees are killed and 95,000 suffer from injuries every year from forklift operations in all industries. OSHA states that “forklift turnovers account for a significant percentage of fatalities.”

OSHA’s Powered Industrial Trucks Standard (29 CFR 1910.178) was published in 1999 in order to address the issues from forklifts and other specialized industrial trucks powered by electric motors or internal combustion engines.

Training

The standard states that "The employer shall ensure that each powered industrial truck operator is competent to operate a powered industrial truck safely, as demonstrated by the successful completion of the training and evaluation.” Refresher training is mandatory if the operator is observed operating the truck in a hazardous behavior, is caught up in an accident or near miss, or is given another type of truck. Persons 18 years old and below are not allowed to drive forklifts.

Maintenance

OSHA requires that forklifts must be examined first before placed in service. When findings conclude that the forklift has conditions that will affect safety, the vehicle must not be placed in service. These examinations must be done daily. Findings must be reported after every shift.

Operation

OSHA requirements for forklift operation are as follows:

  • Follow safe procedures for picking up, putting down and stacking loads;
  • Drive safely, never exceeding 5 mph and slow down in congested areas or those with slippery surfaces;
  • Ensure that the operator wears a seat belt installed by the manufacturer;
  • Never drive up to a person standing in front of a fixed object such as a wall or stacked materials;
  • Prohibit stunt driving and horseplay;
  • Do not handle loads that are heavier than the weight capacity of the forklift;
  • Remove unsafe or defective trucks from service until the defect is properly repaired;
  • Maintain sufficiently safe clearances for aisles and at loading docks or passages where forklifts are used;
  • Ensure adequate ventilation either by opened doors/windows or using a ventilation system to provide enough fresh air to keep concentrations of noxious gases from engine exhaust below acceptable limits;
  • Provide covers and/or guardrails to protect workers from the hazards of open pits, tanks, vats and ditches;

Employers must be clear about forklift safety to their employees and provide sufficient training. Do not rush workers in finishing their tasks as these can lead to more mistakes in operating a forklift. It is best to comply with OSHA standards to have a safe working environment.

 

Credit to OSHACampus.com

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