OSHA: Forklift Operators in Danger at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport

Cargo is loaded onto a United jet at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport (photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Cargo is loaded onto a United jet at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (photo via Wikimedia Commons)

A company that handles cargo at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport has been cited by federal safety officials for putting its forklift operators in danger of being struck by other vehicles and electrical shocks.

Alliance Ground International, based in nearby Schiller Park, Illinois, failed to provide its forklift operators with a safe environment. Instead, the company exposed workers to a variety of hazards as they worked to move cargo at one of the world’s busiest airports, according to Angeline Loftus, area director of the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Fines Exceed $338,000

On Sept. 8, OSHA issued nine citations against the company — including one repeat violation — in connection with an investigation at Alliance’s facilities at both O’Hare in September of 2014, as well as operations at its Schiller Park facility in December of 2013.

Fines and penalties could cost the company up to $338,881.

In March, federal inspectors investigating a complaint against the company discovered numerous violations by Alliance Ground International, including:

  • Failure to remove damaged forklifts from service
  • Failure to inspect forklifts on a shift-by-shift basis
  • Failure to use manufacturer recommended parts when repairing forklifts
  • Not having fully charged fire extinguishers available
  • Not inspecting fire extinguishers on a monthly basis
  • Failure to maintain electrical equipment to prevent employees from being exposed to open panels and exposed wiring

Investigators also observed forklift operators transporting loose portable fuel containers, according to OSHA.

“Simply securing these portable fuel container with clamps provided by the manufacturer will prevent workers from being exposed to containers jarring loose, slipping or rotating, and potentially striking workers who transport goods around the clock at one of the nation’s busiest airports,” Loftus said in an OSHA news release announcing the citations.

Operates at Airports Nationwide

Based in Chicago, Alliance Ground International provides airline cargo-handling services for 32 airlines, including Amerijet, Delta, Finnair, Transaero, and Virgin.

Besides O’Hare, the company also operates at airports in Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami, Newark, New York, Orlando, and San Francisco.

In addition to the single repeated violation, two of the OSHA’s citations were for willful violations, five were considered serious, and one was termed an “other than serious” violation of powered industrial vehicle and electrical safety standards.

Alliance will have 15 days to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the federal agency’s findings with the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

OSHA encouraged workers in any industry to witness a workplace safety violation to contact the agency at its toll-free hotline, 800-321-OSHA (6742).


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