OSHA Announces Latest Forklift Emphasis Program

We often write about forklift safety here and on our other blog at Reconditioned Forklifts. The reason is because as forklift professionals with 40 plus years of experience behind us, we know that forklift safety is an important issue that cannot be over-emphasized. OSHA agrees. While the latest forklift emphasis program was recently launched in Idaho, OSHA stresses that forklift safety is of concern in every State of the Union.

What is the Forklift Emphasis Program?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is concerned about all aspects of worker safety. A look at their list of publications reveals hundreds if not thousands of PDFs and website links about safety issues including everything from aerial lifts and asbestos to workplace violence. Forklift safety is just one of the topics they cover, however there is a plethora of information that can be used as part of an ongoing forklift emphasis program.

The forklift emphasis program literally puts the emphasis on forklifts. This in itself is an indication that OSHA feels forklift safety requires special attention. The Idaho forklift emphasis program is not a training program. Instead OSHA is going to make random inspections throughout the month of June, 2013 at sawmills, warehouses, retail outlets and other businesses where forklifts are in operation. The intention of the program is to raise awareness of forklift safety issues and encourage businesses to re-evaluate their forklift work practices in an effort to reduce the number of accidents and fatalities.

The Emphasis is on Forklift Safety

According to OSHA, the most common forklift safety issues include:

  • Failure to provide adequate operator training and/or training certification;
  • Failure to inspect forklifts prior to operation;
  • Use of defective equipment;
  • Elevating workers unsafely; and
  • Failure to provide seat belts or ensure they are used.

Although the image shown here from a poster advertising National Fork Lift Safety Week in the United Kingdom is staged and doesn’t depict the real consequences of a forklift overturn, it does highlight the importance of wearing a seat belt when operating forklifts. OSHA statistics show that one-third of all forklift fatalities occur because the operator failed to wear a seat belt.

Elevating workers unsafely on forklift forks is another frequent cause of accidents. When you consider how inexpensive OSHA approved work platforms are and how quickly and easily they can be attached to the forks, there’s really no excuse for any workplace to be without one.

Initiatives like OSHA’s forklift emphasis program and the U.K.s National Fork Lift Safety Week do have a positive effect on forklift safety. Since the launch of National Fork Lift Safety Week, forklift accidents in Great Britain have been reduced by a remarkable 66%. Statistically, even with such a dramatic improvement, forklifts remain the most dangerous pieces of materials handling equipment. Is it any wonder, then, why OSHA chose to emphasize forklift inspections over all the other equipment and facility inspections they have to carry out?

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