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The International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTF) is a major annual event in the materials handling world. Along with forklift accessories and parts, hundreds of cutting edge new manufacturing technologies are showcased. Although the 2012 event at Chicago’s McCormick Place was a big success, with 90,000 attendees and over 2,000 exhibits, a forklift accident put a big damper on the proceedings.
According to a Chicago Tribune article, OSHA alleges 4 safety violations in 2012 McCormick Place trade show injury, Global Experience Specialists, a contractor hired to set up the show, was cited by OSHA for 4 forklift safety violations following an investigation of an accident in which an exhibitor’s representative suffered a severe foot injury after it was run over by a forklift while the exhibits were being taken down. The 4 citations included:
- Failing to ensure forklift operators were fully trained.
- Failure to ensure safe clearance for forklift operation in aisles, loading docks and doorways.
- Failure to give site-specific forklift operation safety training.
- Exposing workers to fall hazards during rigging operations.
Together, these citations added up to a fine of $91,000, but that’s not the only problem Global Experience Specialists is facing. The injured party, Iraq vet Thomas Neuhengen, is also suing the company and other parties for “insufficient staffing and safety controls.”
Forklifts are the backbone of the manufacturing and materials handling industries and although the focus of related technologies today is often on high-tech and automated technologies, tried-and-true forklift accessories remain as necessary as ever. Unfortunately, forklift safety training isn’t as exciting as, say, a new technology that uses lasers to machine parts, but those parts will eventually be carried by “old fashioned” forklifts using low tech forklift attachments like self dumping hoppers. When they are, as this incident shows, if a forklift accident occurs, the company in charge of the forklift operations will wish they had spent a few dollars on forklift training materials.
On a brighter note, the IMTS is always an exciting event and it’s not as if out of control forklifts are flying down the halls while events are being held. Over 100,000 visitors found their way through the doors of McCormick Place in 2012. Aside from being able to view everything that’s new in manufacturing technology, attendees learned that, contrary to rumor, the manufacturing industry is still alive and well in the United States. In fact, far from being too few jobs available in U.S. manufacturing firms, many of them are unable to find workers to fill vital positions, citing a skills shortage as the problem. It’s a problem that’s being addressed, though, and can hopefully go a long way towards finding secure employment for U.S. workers well into the future.