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If there is an accident in your workplace that results in an injury or — God forbid — a death, you can expect to be visited by investigators from the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
This federal agency, a subsidiary of the US Department of Labor, is responsible for enforcing workplace safety rules. So when OSHA inspectors arrive at your business for a post-accident investigation, they are going to be looking for any and all workplace safety violations, whether they are related to the accident or not.
The best way to prove that your workplace is safe and that you always follow all federally mandated workplace safety regulations is to produce tangible records, such as reports and safety logs on demand.
Forklift Training Certification
One of the first things OSHA inspectors will do after an accident is to ask you to produce proof that the driver involved in the accident — and possibly all of your forklift operators — received the proper training on the safe operation of their vehicles. According to federal regulations, it’s the employer’s responsibility to both train and certify that operators are qualified.
You will need to be able to pull forklift safety training certification documents out of every driver’s personnel file. If you can’t, you may be liable for fines, damages, and possibly even criminal prosecution.
Forklift Safety Logs
Another thing investigators will want to see is proof that the forklift involved in the accident — as well as every forklift in your fleet — was inspected before the shift on which the accident occurred.
You need to be able to produce a forklift equipment log for each vehicle that is completed, signed, and dated by the driver, the supervisor, or both. If you can’t, you may be in legal trouble.
Investigators will look at the circumstances that led to the accident, including any design flaws, equipment that was in disrepair, or safety hazards that were ignored by management. One way to defend yourself against prosecution is to be able to produce workplace inspection walk-through reports that show that you pro-actively looked for and corrected safety hazards.
The best way to protect your business is to consistently create, curate, and store these records. While it may add a few extra minutes to your day, the time investment is more than worth it when you are able to produce these records on demand to OSHA investigators.
Even if you are prosecuted by OSHA or other local, state, or federal agencies in the wake of a workplace injury or fatal accident, being able to produce substantive records that prove you aggressively enforce safety rules will help you defend your business in court.