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Do You Know How Old Your Tires Really Are? (Jan/Feb-18)
Risk Assessment & Premise Liability Insurance (Nov/Dec-17)
Forklift Safety – You Can Save A Life Today (Sep/Oct-17)
Protect Your Employees from Heat Stress Related Injuries (Jul/Aug-17)
Lockout-Tagout from a Manager’s Perspective (May/Jun-17)
Do Your Employees Really Know How to Use Personal Protective Equipment? (Mar/Apr-17)
OSHA & Lockout/Tagout (Nov/Dec-16)
OSHA Increases Their Penalties Towards Employers (Jul/Aug-16)
Do You Know What Your Experience Modification Rate Is? (May/Jun-16)
Machine Safety (Sep/Oct-15)
Lockout, Tagout & Tryout – Are You in Compliance? (Jul/Aug-15)
Forklift Safety Practices (May/Jun-15)
Using the Right Power Saw to Cut Plastic Materials (Mar/Apr-15)
OSHA & Machine Safeguarding (Jan/Feb-15)
Ergonomics (Sep/Oct-14)
Respiratory Protection . . . Does Your Program Protect? (May/Jun-14)
First Aid Program (Mar/Apr-14)
Working with Composite Materials Safely and Preventing Dermatitis (Jan/Feb-14)
Preventing Winter Slips, Trips and Falls (Nov/Dec-13)
The Globally Harmonized System for Hazard Communication – Are You Ready For It? (Sep/Oct-13)
Safety & New Employee Orientation (Jul/Aug-13)
Liquefied Petroleum Gas Safety (May/Jun-13)
Posting of OSHA Notices (Jan/Feb-13)
Staying Safe This Winter (Nov/Dec-12)
Personal Protection - Storage, Maintenance and Care (Sep/Oct-12)
Machine Safeguarding (Jul/Aug-12)
Is Your Lockout & Tagout Program Working? (May/Jun-12)
Getting Familiar with OSHA (Mar/Apr-12)
Is Your Piping Systems Properly Marked? (Jan/Feb-12)
Accident Prevention, Does Your Company Have An Effective Program? (Nov/Dec-11)
Defining FR – Flame Resistant Fabrics (Jul/Aug-11)
OSHA's Flammable & Combustible Liquids (May/Jun-11)
Safety & Health Program Check-up (Jan/Feb-11)
OSHA Is My Friend (Nov/Dec-10)
OSHA Standard for Control of Hazardous Energy Sources? (Sep/Oct-10)
Lockout/Tagout Program (Jul/Aug-10)
Safe Handling of Compressed Gas Cylinders (May/Jun-10)
What You Should Know about OSHA and Plastic Working Machinery (Mar/Apr-10)
Fasten Those Forklift Seat Belts (Jan/Feb-10)
My Back Hurts (Nov/Dec-09)
Fall Protection Program (Sep/Oct-09)
Accident Prevention & Investigation (Jul/Aug-09)
OSHA & Machine Safeguarding (May/Jun-09)
Carbon Monoxide Hazards (Mar/Apr-09)
OSHA Electrical Safety and Training (Jan/Feb-09)
Free Forklift ANSI Standards (Nov/Dec-08)
Worksite Fire Emergencies (Sep/Oct-08)
Machine Safety (Jul/Aug-08)
Ladder Safety (May/Jun-08)
Is Your Company on OSHA's Hit List?
OSHA Notifies Workplaces with High Injury and Illness Rates (Mar/Apr-08)
Safety Means . . . Never Having to Say You're Sorry (Jan/Feb-08)
Flammables and Combustible Liquids (Nov/Dec-07)
Designing-In Safety NOT Retrofitting Safety (Sep/Oct-07)
Back Safety and Lifting (Jul/Aug-07)
Machine Guarding (May/Jun-07)
Your Hearing Keep it for a Lifetime (Mar/Apr-07)
Light Up the Holidays the Safe Way (Nov/Dec-06)
Would You Risk Your Employee's Life? (Sep/Oct-06)
How to Control Workers' Compensation Costs (Jul/Aug-06)
Compliance with 70E Electrical Standards (May/Jun-06)
OSHA Is on the Move (Mar/Apr-06)
Workplace Violence (Jan/Feb-06)
The Aging Workforce (Nov/Dec-05)
The Safety Paradox (Sep/Oct-05)
Machine Guarding (Jul/Aug-05)
Effective Risk Management (May/Jun-05)
Safety Is Everyone's Business (Mar/Apr-05)
New Year's Resolution Safety (Jan/Feb-05)
Safe Driving (Nov/Dec-04)
Terror In The Skies Revisited (Sep/Oct-04)
How They Got Hurt (Jul/Aug-04)
In-Plant Air Monitoring & Analysis (May/Jun-04)
Safety on the Job and Complying with the Americans With Disabilities Act (Mar/Apr-04)
Link to Article Archive (Jan/Feb-04)
A Supervisor's Duty (Nov/Dec-03)
Machine Safety – Are Your Machines Safe to Operate? (Sep/Oct-03)
Summer is Here (Jul/Aug-03)
Working Safely On Powered Industrial Trucks (Forklifts) (May/Jun-03)
Does Your Safety and Health Workplace Program Contain All of These Elements? (Mar/Apr-03)
Methylene Chloride (Jan/Feb-03)
Safety Signs & Labels - Does Your Facility Comply? (Nov/Dec-02)
Indoor Air Quality (Sep/Oct-02)
When OSHA Arrives (Jul/Aug-02)
Facts About the Occupation Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) (May/Jun-02)
Workplace Fire Safety (Mar/Apr-02)
OSHA 300 Form (Jan/Feb-02)
Preparing for Disaster (Nov/Dec-01)
How Much is a Life Worth? (Sep/Oct-01)
Material Handling Programs (Jul/Aug-01)
It's Up To You To Protect Your Skin (May/Jun-01)
When You’ve Been Handed the Responsibility for Safety (Mar/Apr-01)
A Fresh Look at Machine Safeguarding (Jan/Feb-01)
Safe Work Habits (Nov/Dec-00)
The Importance of Material Safety Data Sheets (Sep/Oct-00)
Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (Jul/Aug-00)
Lockout/Tagout Program (May/Jun-00)
OSHA Violations, Citations and Penalties for 1998 (Mar/Apr-00)
Erogonomics and Machinery Safeguarding (Jan/Feb-00)
General Machine Principles (Nov/Dec-99)
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SAFETY SOLUTIONS: Forklift Safety – You Can Save A Life Today

This month I would like to cover forklift safety. Forklift accidents account for 61,800 minor injuries, 34,900 serious injuries, and 85 forklift related deaths every year, according to OSHA estimates. With almost 900,000 forklifts in operation at any given time in the U.S., those numbers amount to a 1 in 10 chance that each forklift working in your facility will be involved in an accident this year. That’s not great odds for the safety record at your facility – someone at your facility could be injured this year due to a forklift accident.

Forklift collisions account for about 46% of total forklift accidents including crush injuries where personnel are trapped between two forklifts, between a forklift and stationary surface, or where pedestrians are struck by a forklift. The numbers clearly show that the odds are against you unless you take action to mitigate those risks. We all know education is an important element in increasing safety, but it works only as well as the training done and the attentiveness of both drivers and pedestrians. More must be done in key areas of collision prevention, traffic control and pedestrian safety measures in order to reduce your risks.

Powered industrial equipment has greatly improved productivity in manufacturing, warehouse and distribution operations. Forklifts and hand trucks allow one employee to do the work of several in moving large quantities of materials and handling awkward loads. Storage space usage has improved due to palletizing and the ability to stack materials higher, utilizing more of the storage cube.

While all these benefits have improved materials handling, the potential for serious injury and death has also increased. The sheer mass of a forklift can be equivalent to a full-size sedan, and although speeds are relatively low, because of that dense mass, the potential for accidents is a serious issue in the workplace. Fortunately, the frequency of accidents is fairly low – but when an accident does occur, it can have devastating results.

Because of this potential for accidents and injuries in the workplace, it is important to institute safety measures regarding forklift operation and employee safety. As you implement these safety measures, you will find that forklift safety is not just the operator’s responsibility. It also includes pedestrians entering and working in forklift traffic zones.

Federal and State OSHA programs have specific training requirements. I am amazed that after 43 years in this field where I have operated forklifts myself, inspected forklifts as a state and federal OSHA compliance officer and have written and implemented formal forklift programs and now teach certified material handling courses for the companies that I work for as a consultant and I now also act as an expert witness when it comes to forklift accidents on how much operators, supervisors and especially people and managers do not know about the safety regulations and how to operate these vehicles safely.

Here is a list of what an employer must do to ensure that the operators are properly trained. If your company follows these training requirements, you may just be able to save a life as well:

Training Program Implementation

  • First please ensure that the operator has read and understood the information that is found in the owners / operators manual. If they do not do this, they have not been properly trained.
  • Trainees may only operate a powered industrial truck only under the direct supervision of persons who have the knowledge, training, and experience to train operators and evaluate their competence; and where such operation does not endanger the trainee or other employees.
  • Training shall consist of a combination of formal instruction (e.g., lecture, discussion, interactive computer learning, video tape, written material), practical training (demonstrations performed by the trainer and practical exercises performed by the trainee), and evaluation of the operator's performance in the workplace.
  • All operator training and evaluation shall be conducted by persons who have the knowledge, training, and experience to train powered industrial truck operators and evaluate their competence. Watch out if you use online training for I have found that it usually is generic in value and misses many important issues. Also you have to ensure that the operator is still trained under the guidance of a person who has knowledge in the industrial truck that they are training the student on.

For more information on forklift operations and safety, please read ANSI B56.1, read and understand the manufactures owners / operators manuals and also read the OSHA requirements that are found in 29 CFR 1910.178. This is your best guidance for operating forklifts and other types of vehicles safely. Should you have any questions, as always you can reach me by writing to me at

For more information, click on the author biography at the top of the page.

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