Every October, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration releases a preliminary list of the 10 most frequently cited safety and health violations for the fiscal year, compiled from nearly 32,000 inspections of workplaces by federal OSHA staff.
One remarkable thing about the list is that it rarely changes. Year after year, OSHA inspectors see thousands of the same on-the-job hazards, any one of which could result in a fatality or severe injury.
More than 4,500 workers are killed on the job every year, and approximately 3 million are injured, despite the fact that by law, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their workers. If all employers simply corrected the top 10 hazards, we are confident the number of deaths, amputations and hospitalizations would drastically decline.
Consider this list a starting point for workplace safety:
- Fall protection
- Hazard communication
- Respiratory protection
- Powered industrial trucks
- Machine guarding
- Electrical wiring
- Electrical, general requirements
It’s no coincidence that falls are among the leading causes of worker deaths, particularly in construction, and OSHA’s top 10 list features lack of fall protection as well as ladder and scaffold safety issues. We know how to protect workers from falls, and have an ongoing campaign to inform employers and workers about these measures.
OSHA says far too many workers are killed or gruesomely injured when machinery starts up suddenly while being repaired, or hands and fingers are exposed to moving parts. Lockout/tagout and machine guarding (including lift trucks) violations are often the culprit here. Proper lockout/tagout procedures ensure that machines are powered off and can’t be turned on while someone is working on them. And installing guards to keep hands, feet and other appendages away from moving machinery prevents amputations and worse.
The high number of fatalities associated with forklifts, and high number of violations for powered industrial truck safety, tell us that many workers are not being properly trained to safely drive these kinds of potentially hazardous equipment.
Rounding out the top 10 list are violations related to electrical safety, an area where the dangers are well-known.
Their list of top violations is far from comprehensive. OSHA regulations cover a wide range of hazards, all of which imperil worker health and safety. They urge employers to go beyond the minimal requirements to create a culture of safety at work, which has been shown to reduce costs, raise productivity and improve morale. To help them, OSHA has released new recommendations for creating a safety and health program at their workplaces.
OSHA has many additional resources, including a wealth of information on their website and their free and confidential On-site Consultation Program. But tackling the most common hazards is a good place to start saving workers’ lives and limbs.
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.
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.
- Make sure all your forklift operators have been trained and that their refresher training is up to date, if applicable or necessary.
- 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.
- Download and post our free forklift safety posters that you can find on our Training Page.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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…)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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..
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.
So you’re looking for forklift operators, order pickers or materials handling pros. Your new hire checks off on the application “5 years experience operating a forklift.” Is that sufficient for your operation? If so, you’re wading into dangerous waters unless you have a training plan to ensure that this new employee is has sufficient experience and is trained to operate YOUR type of equipment under YOUR set of operational circumstances.
Section 1910.178 of the OSHA forklift standards regarding refresher training requires that any time new equipment or new a new condition is presented in the workplace, that each forklift operator be trained to operate the new equipment and/or operate with the new condition that been presented. Ensuring that your new hire is familiar with your equipment, your attachments and your operating environment is a very important part of maintaining a high level of safety within your facility. It only takes one under-trained operator to create an unsafe environment for everyone in your facility.
With this in mind, we have developed this Valley Industrial Trucks Forklift Operator Questionnaire to assist you in assessing your new hire’s exposure to lift equipment and the conditions that lift equipment was operated under. If you have very unique conditions in your facility or operate very unique equipment with attachments that require training, we encourage you to develop additions to this form to ensure you’re fully assessing your new hire’s ability to maintain facility safety.
Our goal is to help you maintain the highest level of safety, productivity and efficiency. Well-trained forklift operators have proven time and time again to be the answer to improved operations.
By now we all know that anyone that operates lift trucks in your facility MUST be trained to do so. This training needs to be done on YOUR type of equipment, operated in YOUR facility. But when does and operator need to be “refreshed” on forklift operator training, and why? OSHA States:
1910.178(l)(4)(i) – Refresher training, including an evaluation of the effectiveness of that training, shall be conducted as required by paragraph (l)(4)(ii) to ensure that the operator has the knowledge and skills needed to operate the powered industrial truck safely.
1910.178(l)(4)(ii) – Refresher training in relevant topics shall be provided to the operator when:
1910.178(l)(4)(ii)(A) – The operator has been observed to operate the vehicle in an unsafe manner;
1910.178(l)(4)(ii)(B) – The operator has been involved in an accident or near-miss incident;
1910.178(l)(4)(ii)(C) – The operator has received an evaluation that reveals that the operator is not operating the truck safely;
1910.178(l)(4)(ii)(D) – The operator is assigned to drive a different type of truck; or
1910.178(l)(4)(ii)(E) – A condition in the workplace changes in a manner that could affect safe operation of the truck.
1910.178(l)(4)(iii) – An evaluation of each powered industrial truck operator’s performance shall be conducted at least once every three years.
This means that when you hire a new forklift operator, or someone that might operate a forklift for any reason in your facility, you need to find out what type of equipment they have been trained to operate, how and under what conditions. If your new employee previously operated electric order pickers in a distribution setting and your operation utilizes IC forklifts used outdoors, your new employee will need refresher training using your type of equipment under your conditions. This condition would apply under sections D and E as outlined above.
This could also be said for a current employee transferring from another facility that uses different types of attachments or moves different kinds of products. You would need to provide hands-on training and evaluation for your equipment, how to use it, what it does to capacity rating and how to safety maneuver your goods around your facility.
A new employee may have had training at a previous job, using similar equipment under similar conditions. If however, you as a supervisor determine that the new employee is not exhibiting sufficient knowledge of forklift safety, complete training may be an order. OSHA doesn’t address every situation and condition in it’s standard 1910.178, but it is up to us to carefully evaluate our operators on a regular basis and determine if we think refresher training is needed, or if an employee needs to undergo complete training.
Our goal is to help you achieve the safest and most productive workplace in the Akron and Canton Areas. if you feel you could use a partner in Forklift Operator Training, please Contact Us, or give us a call at 888-375-0829.
Patrick Kapust, deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs, and Kyle W. Morrison, S+H’s senior associate editor, announced OSHA’s Top 10 list in front of a crowd gathered on the Expo Floor.
For the fourth year in a row, OSHA’s Fall Protection Standard (1926.501) is the agency’s most frequently cited violation.
The entire list is as follows:
- Fall Protection in Construction (1926.501)
- Hazard Communication (1910.1200)
- Scaffolding in Construction (1926.451)
- Respiratory Protection (1910.134)
- Lockout/Tagout (1910.147)
- Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178)
- Electrical – Wiring Methods (1910.305)
- Ladders in Construction (1926.1053)
- Machine Guarding (1910.212)
- Electrical – General Requirements (1910.303)
The data is preliminary. S+H will publish the finalized data.