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.


Forklift Purchase Price vs. Total Ownership Costs

When you are purchasing a new forklift or aerial lift, you obtain competitive quotes, verify specifications and generate a purchase order. For that matter, just about anything we purchase goes through the same process. However, there is much more to purchasing forklifts and other material handling equipment. We have found, over the years, that often there are variables that can greatly affect the total cost of ownership of anything, be it an automobile, forklift or a giant cargo container.

The price you pay for your piece of equipment, by most accounts, reflects about 10% of the total ownership costs of that piece of equipment. This leaves 90% of your total costs up in the air. Depending on many variables, you could pay much more for the equipment than you needed to, or much less. These variables include:

Performance and Reliability of Equipment – Comparing cost per hour to operate can give you a good idea of what competing pieces of equipment will cost you over their useful life. When comparing cost per hour to operate, you should be sure you’re comparing similar models under similar circumstances. A lift truck operating 1500 hours a year for a light weight product manufacturer will cost far less over its lifetime than the same lift truck operating at a recycling facility. This cost should reflect general maintenance requirements as well as fuel costs.

Fuel Consumption – While this is often a part of performance and cost per hour, knowing the fuel costs for each comparing brand and calculating total costs over the life of the equipment can sometimes be quite an eye-opener. In addition, what are your fuel alternatives? Can you use electric models? Thinking outside the box may result in lower costs to power your forklift and other lift equipment.

Specifications vs. Operations – It is rare that two 5,000-lb-capacity forklifts from competing brands will have similar specifications. Knowing what your facility will accommodate and comparing that with each model will give you insight into how each model will perform, given your operating parameters. Factors include: aisle width vs. turn radius, draw bar pull, suspension and ergonomics compared to your floor condition, indoor/outdoor use and ceiling height/rack height vs. max lift height. You will also want to compare features between brands to ensure that each lift truck model is equipped with the proper components to meet your operational requirements. For example: Can it operate properly inside your ice cream freezer?

Ergonomics – A comfortable and smooth-running piece of equipment will provide you with increased productivity. These are costs hidden in equipment that are quite real in daily operating conditions. How much time and research and development, does each brand put into the comfort and ease of use of their equipment? Happy, comfortable operators are simply more productive.

Safety – Never underestimate the safety features of your equipment. What equipment is being specified and what equipment is optional from each manufacturer is very important to know. Reducing your accident costs or product/facility damage can make a big difference in your total fleet operational expenses.

Useful Life – Finally, how many hours can you expect from each piece of equipment until the cost to operate becomes cost-prohibitive? This can vary widely depending upon brand and model. But having some qualitative and quantitative information on hand, if possible, will help you make a better decision about the total cost of operating each unit/model.

There are many factors beyond price tag or lease rate that can help you make good decisions about the equipment you purchase. Having a partner that listens, evaluates and fulfills your needs is essential in building a fleet that is most productive and less costly in the long run. Contact us at 888-375-0829 to speak to one of our material handling professionals about the right forklift for your operation.


OSHA to Increase Fines

On November 3rd it was announced that OSHA would increase penalties for the first time since 1990. The new provision is entitled the “Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015.”

This law compensates for the “freeze” on financial penalty increases that had been in place for the last 25 years. The Agreement allows OSHA to make a one-time “catch-up” increase to compensate for the more than two decades of no increases. The catch-up increase can’t exceed the inflation rate from 1990 through 2015 as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which will be about 82%.

Assuming OSHA applies the maximum catch-up increase allowed, the current maximum $70,000 fine for a Repeat and Willful violation would grow to as much as $125,000 each. The new act does include a potential exception to the increases. OSHA is allowed to forego following the  guidelines if “increasing the civil monetary penalty by the otherwise required amount will have a negative economic impact [on America]” or “the social costs of increasing the civil monetary penalty by the otherwise required amount outweigh the benefits.” This language gives OSHA considerable latitude to apply these fines as they see fit. After this one-time catch-up increase, OSHA will use inflation rate as a guide for future increases.

Employers may have several months to anticipate these higher penalties, but action on safety should begin immediately. Ensuring your forklift fleet is being properly maintained by service professionals and that all your forklift operators have current training on the equipment they operate, in the facility they operate them in, will keep you protected from these fines.

As we have discussed in previous articles forklift operator training and forklift maintenance have benefits that go beyond avoiding expensive penalties.  Workplace safety protects workers, improves morale and can actually help the bottom line profits for all workplaces. Rather than just treating safety as an expense, management should work to develop a business plan to achieve safety goals, avoid fines, and reduce insurance expense and lost time.

Visit our Forklift Operator Training page and learn more about our Planned Maintenance Program to ensure your fleet, and operators are safe and productive. Then contact us at 888-375-0829 for a quote to proving ongoing training and maintenance to ensure they both stay within safe operating parameters.


Section 179 is Back for 2016 and Better!

Sec179Congress has approved much needed improvements in Section 179 which allows companies, like yours, the ability to completely deduct the purchase cost of equipment the first year it is put into service. The new limits are:

Maximum 179 Deduction for 2016: $500,000

This means for qualifying equipment purchases of up to $500,000, your company can deduct 100% of the purchase price from its taxes the very first year it is put into service.

Further, this maximum will be increased annually, with the maximum tied to inflation, at $10,000 increments.

Bonus Depreciation; Maximum Qualifying Purchases: $2,000,000

Once you exceed the maximum deduction of $500,000, bonus depreciation kicks in at 50%, until you reach the maximum qualifying purchases of $2,000,000. For example, if you spend $1,000, ooo on new equipment, you can fully deduct the first $500,000, then deduct 50% of the remaining $500,000 for a total tax deduction the first year of $750,000.  It then begins to phase out dollar for dollar until you reach $2,500,000, where it is then completely eliminated.

Bonus Depreciation will be extended through 2019. Businesses of all sizes will be able to depreciate 50 percent of the cost of equipment acquired and put in service during 2015, 2016 and 2017. Then bonus depreciation will phase down to 40 percent in 2018 and 30 percent in 2019.

Note: The section 179 deduction applies to NEW and USED equipment whereas the bonus depreciation is only available for NEW equipment.

What that means to the purchase price of a NEW, $30,000 forklift? Assuming your company is in the 35% tax bracket, your effective cost, after deducting the entire $30,000 from your taxes, is only $19,500!

With Section 179 in effect for the remainder of 2015 and all of 2016, and beyond, there’s never been a better time to invest in new forklifts for your facility.

Note: We always suggest you consult your accountant or tax professional before you utilize section 179 for tax savings. Not all companies are structured the same and your savings may vary.

To learn more about Section 179, please visit; www.section179.org. Visit our New CLARK Forklifts showroom, our New Doosan Forklifts showroom , New Sellick Forklifts showroom and our Used Inventory to see our models. Then Contact Us for a quote, or give us a call at 888-375-0829.


Columbia Stock Chaser

nv325981_0 - smValley Industrial Trucks is proud to feature commercial and utility vehicles by Columbia. This month we feature the highly popular Stock Chaser.

The Columbia Stock Chaser IS12-24 is a 24 volt burden carrier with a 1,200 lb. load capacity and a 1,000 lb. towing capacity. Its standup operator position makes it very convenient for operators who must frequently exit and enter the vehicle. See full specs and more pictures.

The Stock Chaser IS12-24 is ideal for order picking, stock replenishment, towing and materials expediting. Stock Chasers are widely used in the commercial nursery industry because they offer high capacities in a very narrow vehicle. Dual front wheels are standard on the IS-12-24 and provide greater stability and improved rough surface performance. Adding a train of self tracking trailers greatly increases productivity.

Heavy-duty steel construction and Class H motor insulation insure that the vehicle will survive your rough industrial application. A large number of options are available to create just the right Stock Chaser for your job. Choose from headlights, hour meter, ladders, heavy-duty batteries, in-motion beeper, tow hitches, paint colors and many more.

For a quote or more information on the Stock Chaser by Columbia, please Contact Us or give us a call directly at 888-375-0829.


Top Ten OSHA Citations for 2015 Announced

osha logoThe Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced the preliminary Top 10 most frequently cited workplace safety violations for fiscal year 2015. Patrick Kapust, deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs, presented the Top 10 on the Expo floor as part of the 2015 NSC Congress & Expo, the world’s largest gathering of safety professionals.

“In injury prevention, we go where the data tell us to go,” said National Safety Council President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman. “The OSHA Top 10 list is a roadmap that identifies the hazards you want to avoid on the journey to safety excellence.”

The Top 10 for FY 2015* are:

  1. Fall Protection (1926.501) – 6,721
  2. Hazard Communication (1910.1200) – 5,192
  3. Scaffolding (1926.451) – 4,295
  4. Respiratory Protection (1910.134) – 3,305
  5. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147) – 3,002
  6. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178) – 2,760
  7. Ladders (1926.1053) – 2,489
  8. Electrical – Wiring Methods (1910.305) – 2,404
  9. Machine Guarding (1910.212) – 2,295
  10. Electrical – General Requirements (1910.303) – 1,973

As you can see, forklifts and lift equipment is high on OSHA’s lists of citations. One way to avoid citations pertaining to your forklift fleet is to ensure you’re following OSHA’s regulations regarding powered industrial trucks (lift trucks), that your fleet is being properly and regularly maintained and that your forklift operators have received adequate training, and that the training is up-to-date.

If you’re unsure of your fleet’s condition or your operator’s training status, contact us at 866-393-9833 and we will help you ensure you do not end up on OSHA’s list of citations!


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!