Resources to Improve Aerial Lift Safety

While aerial lifts are used frequently at construction, warehousing, and many other job sites, they can pose potentially fatal hazards to workers. Aerial devices include boom-supported aerial platforms, such as cherry pickers or bucket trucks, aerial ladders and vertical towers.

The major causes of injuries and fatalities are falls, electrocutions, and collapses or tip-overs, such as the one that killed Kevin Miranda in Taunton, Mass., on Aug. 18, 2015. Skyline Contracting and Roofing Corp. was fined more than $100,000 after OSHA inspectors found that the aerial lift was positioned on unleveled ground and determined that the company had not trained Miranda to recognize this hazard.

Learn about the fall-related risks and recommended safe work practices associated with this equipment by visiting the new NIOSH Aerial Lifts webpage. The page includes a Hazard Recognition Simulator designed to help you acclimate to aerial lift operation. Additional resources on aerial lift safety are available from OSHA.

One way to improve your aerial lift safety is to be sure your operators are thoroughly trained to operate aerial lifts, based on the kind you operate and the conditions and terrain you operate them under. Visit our training page to learn more about our training programs.

Making sure your aerial lifts are operating safety is to put them on a regular maintenance schedule. It doesn’t take much to make a safe aerial lift become very unsafe. Damaged tires, hydraulic lines, worn parts etc…are all ways to increase the dangers of operating your aerial lifts. Visit our service page to learn more about our service program.s

To speak to us about your aerial lift safety and service, please contact us or give us a call at 888-375-0829.


What are Some of the Best Practices in Forklift Safety?

OSHA requires that you perform a forklift inspection before the forklift is placed in service. Forklift trucks must not be placed in service if the examination shows any condition adversely affecting the safety of the vehicle. Such examination shall be made at least daily. When industrial trucks are used around the clock, they shall be examined after each shift. When defects are found, employees need to report such conditions to their supervisor immediately. Defects must be corrected prior to returning the forklift into service.

Safe Operating Practices

  • Do not operate a forklift unless you have received thorough forklift operator training.
  • Use seatbelts if they are available. If not installed, retrofit old sit-down type forklifts with an operator restraint system if possible.
  • Report to your supervisor any damage or problems that occur to a forklift during your shift.
  • Do not jump from an overturning, sit-down type forklift. Stay with the truck, holding on firmly and leaning in the opposite direction of the overturn.
  • Exit from a stand-up type forklift with rear-entry access by stepping backward if a lateral tipover occurs.
  • Operators should avoid turning, if possible, and should use extreme caution on grades, ramps, or inclines. Normally the operator should travel straight up and down Do not attempt to turn around on grades or ramps. Keep loads elevated and upslope, not pointed downslope.
  • On grades, tilt the load back and raise it only as far as needed to clear the road surface.
  • Do not raise or lower the forks while the forklift is moving.
  • Do not handle loads that are heavier than the weight capacity of the forklift
  • Operate the forklift at a speed that will permit it to be stopped safely.
  • Slow down and sound the horn at cross aisles and other locations where vision is obstructed. Make every effort to alert workers when a forklift is nearby. Use horns, audible backup alarms, and flashing lights to warn workers and other forklift operators in the area. Flashing lights are especially important in areas where the ambient noise level is high.
  • Look toward the travel path and keep a clear view of it.
  • Do not allow passengers to ride on forklift trucks unless a seat is provided.
  • When dismounting from a forklift, set the parking brake, lower the forks or lifting carriage, and neutralize the controls.
  • Do not use a forklift to elevate workers who are standing on the forks.
  • Elevate a worker on a platform only when the vehicle is directly below the work area
  • Whenever a truck is used to elevate personnel, ensure that operators use only an approved lifting cage and adhere to general safety practices for elevating personnel with a forklift. Also, secure the platform to the lifting carriage or forks.
  • Use a restraining means such as rails, chains, or a body belt with a lanyard or deceleration device for the worker(s) on the platform.
  • Provide means for personnel on the platform to shut off power to the truck whenever the truck is equipped with vertical only or vertical and horizontal controls for lifting personnel.
  • Do not drive to another location with the work platform elevated.
  • Brakes, steering mechanisms, control mechanisms, warning devices, lights, governors, lift overload devices, guards and safety devices, lift and tilt mechanisms, articulating axle stops, and frame members shall be carefully and regularly inspected and maintained in a safe condition.

Additional Safety Practices

  • When work is being performed from an elevated platform, a restraining means such as rails, chains, etc., shall be in place, or a body belt with lanyard or deceleration device shall be worn by the person(s) on the platform.
  • Operators should follow operator’s manuals, which are supplied by all equipment manufacturers and describe the safe operation and maintenance of forklifts.
  • Operators should be trained to handle asymmetrical loads when their work includes this activity.
  • Separate forklift traffic and other workers where possible.
  • Limit some aisles to workers on foot only or forklifts only.
  • Restrict the use of forklifts near time clocks, break rooms, cafeterias, and main exits, particularly when the flow of workers on foot is at a peak (such as at the end of a shift or during breaks).
  • Install physical barriers where practical to ensure that workstations are isolated from aisles traveled by forklifts. Do not store bins, racks, or other materials at corners, intersections, or other locations that obstruct the view of forklift operators.
  • Evaluate intersections and other blind corners to determine whether overhead dome mirrors could improve the visibility of forklift operators or workers on foot. The person who conducts the inspections should have the authority to implement prompt corrective measures.
  • Enforce safe driving practices such as obeying speed limits, stopping at stop signs, and slowing down and blowing the horn at intersections.
  • Repair and maintain cracks, crumbling edges, and other defects on loading docks, aisles, and other operating surfaces.

Forklifts can be very dangerous if not treated with the respect they deserve and if proper training is not provided. Making sure your forklift fleet is being safely operated and pedestrians are trained ensures improved safety for all, and improved productivity and profits for your company!


Five Steps to Workplace Violence Prevention

Violence in the workplace often erupts without warning, and can have tragic results. Taking steps to prevent these situations can improve safety in your workplace, improve employee satisfaction and lead to increased productivity. Conversely, ignoring potential hazards can result in employee injury, even death — and legal action at considerable costs to the company.

OSHA has outlined five steps you can take to identify and prevent these violent encounters before they happen. While they are not directly related to materials handling operations, we feel these guidelines can apply to a wide variety of organizations, including your company.

Management Commitment and Employee Participation

As with any initiative, without the commitment of management and leadership, the rank-and-file of the organization will likely ignore any efforts to improve safety with regards to violence. Company leadership must be involved on a regular basis and visibly endorse the effort. This can be achieved by establishing a safety and health committee, and having leadership rotate in and out of meetings conducted by the committee.

Management must articulate a policy and establish goals for the company. Once a plan has been developed, leadership should allocate sufficient resources to accomplish the goals and uphold program performance expectations. Providing resources could entail meetings with health professionals to help identify potential hazards, creating visible signage and using other communication methods to keep workers involved in and aware of the program.

Worksite Analysis and Hazard Identification

There are probably facets of your operation that are prone to producing higher anxiety or tension among your employees. These could be actual physical conditions such as heat, cold, and hazardous areas as well as departments that demand high productivity, or even interaction with the public. Taking stock of these areas and identifying factors that are the least or most likely to create a stressful atmosphere are key to prevention.  Two steps you can take to identify and prevent violence include:

  • Conducting job hazard analysis – Management can conduct surveys of their departments to assess the potential risk of violence among employees. This not only includes internal assessments, but assessments of destinations to which your employees may travel, including specific neighborhoods, time of day, etc. Sites that expose your employees to violent behavior are often outside the walls of your facility.
  • Conduct employee surveys – Employees will often tell you if their jobs create stressful situations for them and if they feel endangered by some of their job tasks. Conduction of reviews on a regular basis will help you identify these areas and create a plan to reduce danger.

Hazard Prevention and Control

Once management has established and articulated its commitment, and evaluations have taken place, a plan to reduce potential hazards must be implemented.  This step includes:

  • Identification and evaluation of control options for workplace hazards
  • Selection of effective and feasible controls to eliminate or reduce hazards
  • Implementation of these controls
  • Follow up to confirm these controls are being used and maintained
  • Evaluate effectiveness and improve, expand or update these controls as needed

Safety and Health Training

As with any program you want to succeed, employees must be trained in order to follow the steps outlined by the company to identify and report these risks and follow up as needed.

This training could include meetings with mental health experts to help identify signs of stress in colleagues that could lead to violence. It also can include training on how to avoid violence outside your facility by taking common-sense actions (such as parking under a street lamp), what to do if an employee feels threatened and even self-defense training. Other training topics can include:

  • The company’s workplace policy on violence prevention
  • Documentation and reporting
  • Location, operation and coverage of safety devices such as alarms
  • Ways to identify and deal with hostile situations
  • A standard response plan for violent situations

Recordkeeping and Program Evaluation

Recordkeeping includes reporting procedures, what gets reported and to whom, and how these records are kept. Keeping track of both “close calls” and actual events helps you identify patterns, areas of particular concern and even certain job functions that might be creating undue stress on employees. It can help you identify areas outside your facility that present a danger to your employees, such as areas of town they serve.

OSHA Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA Form 300) can help you organize information not only for reporting to your proper internal sources but also for reporting to OSHA if necessary. As of January 2015, all employers must report:

  • All work-related fatalities within 8 hours
  • All work-related inpatient hospitalizations, all amputations and all losses of an eye within 24 hours

Injuries sustained as a result of assault must be entered on the log if they meet OSHA’s recording criteria (CFR Part 1904, revised 2014).

Keeping track helps you improve your program, improve employee safety and ensure your employees are operating in a safe and productive work environment.

We hope this summary is helpful to you in establishing your own workplace violence prevention plan. To learn more about what you can do, download the complete “Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence) by OSHA, HERE. While it was prepared for healthcare and social service workers, the overall content of this guide can assist any company, big or small, in achieving a safer work environment for all.


Getting Ready for Forklift Safety Day

Forklift Safety Day

The Industrial Truck Association has announced it’s second annual Forklift Safety Day, to be held June Tuesday, June 9. You can register to attend the event, held in Washington, DC. While most of you won’t be able to attend, there are things you can do to take advantage of this day to help create awareness about the dangers that forklifts present and how to minimize the potential for accidents that can result in injury or death, damage to your facility, equipment and financial losses. We’ve compiled a short list of things you can do on June 9th to improve safety on and around your forklifts.

  1. Make sure all your forklift operators have been trained and that their refresher training is up to date, if applicable or necessary.
  2. Take time to teach your forklift operators the importance of daily inspections of their forklifts. Daily inspections reduce the risk of equipment failure and catch small problems before they blossom into giant ones. You can find daily forklift inspection sheets on our Training Page for both IC and electric units.
  3. Download and post our free forklift safety posters that you can find on our Training Page.
  4. Take some time to gather any staff that operates around forklifts, but not on them, to refresh them about the dangers of this equipment and how to be sure to use safe procedures when they are in an area of your facility where forklifts are being operated.
  5. Make sure all your forklift’s maintenance is up to date. If you have a Planned Maintenance Agreement, this would be a good time to review it with your service provider to ensure all standard checkpoints as well as unique equipment attachments are being inspected and maintained properly.
  6. Review any unique “site specific” features your facility may have and be sure your operators are aware of proper handling of equipment while on or around these features (ramps, areas where floors can be slick, floor substrates that vary etc…)
  7. Make sure that training is part of your company’s orientation for anyone that will or MIGHT operate a forklift. Remember, employees that have not been properly trained aren’t even allowed to sit on and start a forklift, much less move it out of the way of anything.
  8. Make sure you forklifts have proper safety equipment and that it’s operating properly. Lights, horns, back-up alarms, seat belts, fire extinguishers etc… Check out our Blue Safety Light for pedestrian safety enhancement.
  9. Make sure you have lock-out kits to ensure that forklifts that do not pass an inspection are locked out immediately until repairs are made.
  10. Review all your forklifts for possible replacement. Old forklifts, or those that are getting “up there” in hours, might be potential threats. Review safety records and maintenance logs for your equipment. You might find this could be a good time to replace some or even all of your forklifts.-

Our goal is to help you operate safe, efficient and productive forklift equipment. To discuss forklift safety, operator training or to get a quote on new equipment, please Contact Us or give us a call at 888-375-0829..


3 Tips to Forklift Fleet Maintenance Optimization

In recent forklift fleet maintenance and management articles, we have discussed the benefits of properly maintaining your equipment. There is no doubt that companies that engage in robust and comprehensive equipment maintenance save money in the long run and improve the efficiency of their forklift fleets.

Establishing a program that proactively maintains your equipment to maximize productivity takes just a bit of work. But with the right partner by your side, the process can be much easier to set up and manage. Following are three tips we suggest in order to establish programs that maximize productivity and reduce your overall costs.

Fleet Analysis

We observe, most of the time, that all equipment in your facility are not utilized the same way or under the same conditions. Some equipment might sit idle for a few hours each day and lift/transport far less overall weight. We suggest not only analyzing the hours each piece of equipment is used, but also how it is used. A piece of equipment used outdoors will required more attention than the same piece of equipment used indoors in a warehouse setting. Using both quantitative and qualitative information will help you develop a service plan that treats each piece of equipment uniquely and provides for the proper level of maintenance.

Quantitative Information – This would include the number of hours used each year, the average weight of each load hauled, service history, equipment age and any other quantitative information available through any type of fleet management software you may use.

Qualitative Information – This information is usually observation-oriented and includes the type of conditions under which each forklift operates, and the training or experience level of the operator. This observation would also include the types of loads each piece of equipment hauls. Hauling seafood off the dock versus processing retail-ready seafood, for example, will result in two very different wear-and-tear scenarios.

Daily Inspections

Although they are required by OSHA, we have found that most companies do not perform pre-shift inspections.  And we can’t tell you how many times we’ve gotten a call from a customer who has had to lock out a unit as a result of a pre-shift inspection because the unit is not fit for operation.

Pre-shift inspections will results in catching small maintenance issues before they blossom into giant repair headaches and dangerous scenarios.  Performing inspections also reduces your liability should an accident occur during a shift. Being able to provide a recent and thorough inspection prior to operating the equipment will help your cause dramatically, should litigation occur.

You can find pre-shift inspection forms on our website HERE.

Partner Selection

Having a service partner who has the experience, skills and trained repair staff to work with you is a major key to a successful program. Not all service providers are created equal; selecting one based on price could result in spending more without reaping the benefits. Instead, select a partner that has demonstrated to you that they understand your equipment, your operation and have the trained staff to execute your service plan. Doing so will give you the desired outcome for your operation. To help ascertain the ability of your potential service partner, inquire about the following:

  • Training that the service technicians receive (formal and informal)
  • Experience level of service staff (including technicians)
  • Level of experience in servicing your type of equipment
  • References from other clients that utilized similar equipment under similar operating conditions
  • Visit their facility to see how it operates. You can pick up pretty quickly whether the facility is organized and professionally represented.

Taking the time to establish a comprehensive service program takes a bit more work up-front, but in the long run it pays for itself many times over. To discuss your service program with our trained staff of service professionals, please contact us, or call us at 888-375-0829.


The Costs of Not Protecting Our Workforce; A New OSHA Report

Cost of Workplace InjuriesA new report generated by OSHA highlights the real costs associated with on the job injuries, who pays them and how this impacts the employee and taxpayers.

Whether an employee is working on a high-rise building or driving a forklift, employers have the responsibility, and what we feel is an obligation to protect their employees from injury. By investing in training and safety, employers get fewer injuries, lower costs, more productivity and an improved satisfaction which often leads to less turn over. But all companies do not feel that way. Many are finding ways to avoid responsibility for providing safe working conditions for their most dangerous jobs.

The report highlights what some companies do to avoid responsibility and what this does to not only the employee, but his/her family and taxpayers when an accident with injury occurs. Shifting the financial burden however does not make it go away. It shifts it to over-burdened worker’s compensation and government systems. In addition, a worker who is injured can expect to make an average of 15% less income after the injury. And while the creating of OSHA in 1970 by President Nixon has greatly reduced on the job accidents, injuries and deaths dramatically, we still have approximately 4,500 deaths every year due to workplace accidents.

As a full-service forklift dealership, safety is one of our most important topics. Forklifts are dangerous pieces of equipment for the operator and anyone working around the forklift. Forklift Operator Training and Pedestrian Training is not only the law, it is our obligation to those that operate forklifts. While manufacturers work hard to innovate and make them safer, nothing can replace a well trained and cautious operator.

We have posted the Executive Summary of the report on our website and feel it is certainly worth a read. The full report can be found HERE.


Three Essentials of Effective Training

Training is one of the most important functions of any manager. From top to the bottom levels of an organization, employees that are well-trained to do their jobs perform them better, are more efficient and make greater contributions to the bottom line of the organization. When we discuss forklift operator training with our clients there are three essentials they must commit to in order to take full advantage of the training we provide. This of course transcends forklift operator training and could apply to training in about any other function within your organization.

Planning – Setting out on any quest, whether it’s comprehensive training or how your department will function, doing so without a plan, even a simple one will leave you wandering in the wilderness, drifting from one program to another, no sure if what you’re doing contributes or detracts from your quest.

Put together a plan, including what you want to accomplish, the steps it will take to get there and what you will do to maintain the levels of training you provide as well as what you will do to take it to each “next level” once you have attained your planned levels of training.

Time – Nothing happens overnight, there is no magic elixir for time and practice committed to your plan. You can expand or contract the time it takes based upon your level and amount of training provided to do the job. Time can be your commitment personally or the time commitment of external or outsourced training. Either way, it takes time with the trainer, then time practicing the skills by the employee to hone them to an efficient and effective state. We have addressed how people learn in our Feature Article “Training vs. Teaching; Knowing the Differences.”

Resources – Time is one of your most valuable resources in any organization and we have addressed the need for that above. But you must also provide the resources for effective training. This can include time with a skilled trainer, a location to provide and practice the skills, equipment needed to learn and practice on as well as materials needed to support the training efforts.

Providing comprehensive ongoing training is an investment in your employees, your organization, and your bottom line performance. The results are usually commensurate with the levels of each of the three essentials we’ve listed and it is rare that results oppose the efforts. Invest in your bottom line with complete and professional training and watch the results, over time, compound for your company.