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We often write about the importance of forklift safety training here on the Forklift Accessories blog. Workplace safety goes beyond forklift operators, though. Since the recession of 2008, accidents and fatalities in factories, warehouses and other industrial settings have been on the rise. According to some researchers, the practice of hiring untrained or poorly trained temp workers to save money may be to blame.
An article in the Huffington Post, Temp Work Isn’t Only Insecure — It’s More Dangerous, Too cites a ProPublica analysis of workers’ compensation claims in five states. According to their findings:
- In California, temp workers had a 50% greater chance of being injured on the job than permanent workers.
- Florida statistics showed the same percentage as California.
- In Minnesota, the risk to temp workers was 76% higher.
- Oregon temp workers suffered a 66% greater risk of injury than non-temps.
- Massachusetts temps were the luckiest, with “only” a 36% greater chance of injury.
The article went on to give a variety of case studies of young temps who arrived on the job thrilled to have found work and determined to do their best to prove themselves. One young man was over-qualified for the job he took, but because he had not been able to find work as a medical assistant, was happy to at least have a temporary job to go to. He died from toxic poisoning on his first day on the job because he had not been trained to always wear a breathing apparatus when working around toxic chemicals.
The Huffington Post article also quoted OSHA director David Michaels, who was alarmed by the numbers of temp workers who were killed on their first day on the job. The accidents were horrific, including cases of workers being crushed or mangled by equipment and poisoned by chemicals. Michaels may have been “alarmed,” but OSHA statistics prove that most workplace deaths and fatalities are preventable. Only two things are required to prevent accidents:
- A safer working environment and
- Better worker training.
How long would it take to show a new worker how to use a respirator? How much do forklift safety accessories cost to buy? The cost in time and accessories is minimal, especially when weighed against the cost of injury or death to a worker.
According to OSHA, the majority of forklift-related fatalities occur when:
- Operators or workers are crushed by vehicles that tip over;
- When someone is caught between a forklift and a vertical or horizontal surface;
- When someone is struck by a forklift;
- When material falls from a forklift or as a result of a forklift’s actions; and
- When someone falls from an unsafe forklift platform.
Better training could prevent many of these accidents and inexpensive forklift accessories and attachments could prevent many more. For example, the photo at the top of this page shows drums falling off a pallet. Had the forklift operator used a drum attachment instead, the drums could have been safely handled. When you can buy an inexpensive work platform, there’s really no excuse for anyone having to suffer an injury or die from falling off an improvised forklift platform.
What can you do to help prevent injuries and fatalities in your workplace?