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Ask any forklift fleet manager and they will tell you: Drivers generally don’t like to wear their seatbelts.
The typical forklift operator jumps in and out of the forklift cab all day long. So taking the time to clasp and unclasp a seatbelt every time they climb into the cab is inconvenient and time-consuming.
Unfortunately, it’s also the law. And if your business gets caught allowing forklift drivers to get away with not wearing their seatbelts, it’s the company — not the driver — that will be held accountable.
Don’t Look the Other Way
A lot of fleet managers and forklift drivers supervisors take a “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach to seatbelt use. Their reasoning may go like this: “I’m going to just presume that everybody is following the rules while they are out in the field. What I don’t know won’t hurt me.”
This is the wrong approach.
If your business is found to be ignoring forklift safety — whether it’s allowing drivers to operate their vehicles without using seatbelts or providing your employees with unsafe conditions or equipment — you could be liable for fines, and penalties, not to mention the embarrassment and damage to your reputation from being called out publicly by regulatory agencies like local health inspectors and the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
When an Accident Occurs
It may be unlikely, though not impossible, that an OSHA inspector will conduct a surprise audit of your operation. But if an injury accident occurs on your property, especially one that involves a fatality, you can be certain that your business will soon be swamped by OSHA investigators.
One of the first questions OSHA inspectors will ask after an accident involving a forklift is whether or not the operator was wearing a seatbelt. If they weren’t, that’s strike one against your company.
And if investigators learn that your drivers routinely ignore safety rules that require them to wear seatbelts whenever they are in their cab — or, worse yet, that some of your forklifts have broken or missing seatbelts — you could be in some real hot water with the feds.
Avoiding the Issue Altogether
There’s one simple solution to this problem: Require your fleet managers and forklift driver supervisors to enforce work rules mandating seatbelt use by all forklift operators.
The rules are there for a reason. They save lives. But they also protect your drivers, your other employees, and your business from problems that can easily be avoided.
Why take an unnecessary risk? Require your drivers to wear seatbelts then make sure your supervisory staff is enforcing the rules.