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Forklift safety is everybody’s concern. But now the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration has teamed up with a major forklift industry trade group to jointly promote forklift safety for the next five years.
Officials from OSHA and the Industrial Truck Association (ITA) announced the partnership earlier this month. The goal of the public/private partnership is to “move the needle” in reducing worker injuries and fatalities involving forklifts, focusing especially on tip-over and struck-by hazards.
Both groups will benefit from the partnership: OSHA can use the ITA to spread the word about its campaigns addressing such issues as preventing falls and heat illness, and the ITA can benefit from developing programs to reduce the number of workers injured or killed in forklift accidents each year.
David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, said that was a “win/win” for both groups.
“Many workers suffer serious injuries or die from being crushed, struck by, or falling from forklifts,” Michaels said in a news release announcing the partnership. “Our continued alliance with ITA will help us promote awareness of the dangers of this equipment and provide valuable information and training to protect the safety of workers.”
Too Late for Oklahoma Forklift Operator
Forklift accidents are an all-too-common occurrence. Just last week, a forklift operator in Oklahoma was crushed to death by his forklift while driving it up a ramp. Workers at the scene used a second forklift to remove the vehicle from the worker, but it was too late, according to local news reports.
The OSHA/ITA partnership will strive to educate industries about ways to limit the risks involved with operating forklifts and other heavy machinery. The ITA also will continue to sponsor National Forklift Day, which this year will be held on June 9.
Building Alliances to Promote Safety
The partnership is part of OSHA’s Alliance Progam, which pairs the federal safety agency with trade unions, consulates, trade groups, churches, businesses, and educational institutions to raise awareness about workplace safety. The purpose of each alliance is to develop compliance assistance tools and resources, as well as find new ways to educate workers and employers about their rights and responsibilities.
OSHA was quick to point out that the Alliance Program does not mean groups are exempt from OSHA inspections of other types of enforcement.
The ITA — which is a trade group representing forklift manufacturers as well as suppliers of parts and accessories — counts the makers of lift trucks, tow tractors, rough terrain vehicles, hand-pallet trucks, and automated guided vehicles among its membership.
The alliance between OSHA and the ITA also will encourage a culture of safety, especially among small businesses and workers with limited or no ability to speak and understand English.