The hot summer months are upon us. With increased heat and humidity workers become more susceptible to heat-related illnesses. Workers who are not accustomed to working in the heat can quickly become ill and experience heat stroke, which can lead to serious illness and even death. Since your forklift operators will frequently work outside and on equipment that utilizes internal combustion engine, part of your forklift operator training, should be awareness of heat illness.
There are a few things to keep in mind about heat-related illness and what you can do to help prevent it in your workers.
- Train your employees about the dangers of heat-related illnesses. OSHA has excellent training information and materials to help you relate this information to all of your employees who work in the heat. Part of that training should be to recognize the symptoms of heat-related illnesses and to act upon them immediately. Never brush it off and continue working. The symptoms exist for a reason!
- Understand that all employees are not equally able to resist the heat. Employees should be able to assess their own conditioning and how well they handle heat. Employees who are taking certain prescription medications or have certain chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, need to pay special attention to how they feel while working. Employees who are new to outdoor jobs are often most susceptible to heat-related illnesses. Try to ease them into the normal workload gradually, until you’re confident they are acclimated.
- Provide additional water stations during the hotter months, at more convenient locations, and encourage employees to drink water every 15 minutes or so, based on temperature. Never wait until you are thirsty to start re-hydrating.
- Provide for more frequent breaks. In the long run employees will be more productive in the heat if they are getting proper rest to allow their bodies to cool down while also keeping themselves better hydrated during these breaks.
- Proper ventilation and air movement inside your warehouse or material handling facility is very important in keeping the temperature at safe levels and your workers cool. Ceiling fans, screen doors for warehouse dock doors, and roof vents are great ways to keep your facility comfortable and more productive.
OSHA has provided a wealth of information to help you provide a safe atmosphere to deal with the summer heat. While OSHA does not have a standard pertaining to preventing heat illnesses, it is up to us to be sure we have done everything that we can to help our employees stay safe and avoid heat-related illnesses.
- See OSHA’s Heat Safety Campaign and related information.
- Download OSHA’s Heat Safety App for iPhone and Android.
- NOAA’s “Beat the Heat” Campaign Webpage
Well-trained and equipped employees are more productive employees. Keeping them safe from the heat during the summer months ensures better productivity for tomorrow and years beyond. But it is ultimately up to us as the employers to be sure our employees are prepared to understand and act accordingly to ensure their own 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!
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..
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.
We’ve addressed proper inspection techniques in this Feature Article some time ago. We even have Inspection Form free to download HERE, copy and use/distribute as needed, to help you perform complete inspections. We even have a VIDEO to help you train your drivers visual how to inspect a forklift before each shift. Beyond the obvious employee safety aspects of having operators thoroughly, what other benefits does your business gain?
Fewer accidents means less down time. Down time equals reduced productivity, which reduces your effectiveness, increases your costs and impacts your bottom line.
Less damage to product, equipment and facility. Forklifts and lift equipment are kept in better working order, less product has to be returned, repaired or tossed out, and your facility needs fewer repairs. All of this equals a healthier bottom line.
Lower worker’s comp and general insurance costs. A business with fewer accidents will generally pay less insurance costs, and certainly lower worker’s comp. insurance.
Improved productivity. Operators that understand how the equipment works, doesn’t work and knows your facilities strengths and weaknesses are more productive employees. Improved productivity equals an improved bottom line.
Increased useful life of your lift equipment. This is a great benefit often overlooked. Just like your car or anything else you own, if you take better care of it, it will last longer and have greater value when you trade it in. Daily inspections and catching small items before they blossom into giant repair headaches increases the useful life and value of your forklifts.
But this is all predicated on an effective and ongoing training program. Having a partner that’s dedicated to training and has experience training forklift operators is the key to an effective program. Visit our Forklift Safety Training Webpage. Contact Us for more information or to speak with someone, just give us a call at 888-375-0829.
When you’re working in the heat, safety comes first. With the OSHA Heat Safety Tool, you have vital safety information available whenever and wherever you need it – right on your mobile phone.
The App allows workers and supervisors to calculate the heat index for their worksite, and, based on the heat index, displays a risk level to outdoor workers. Then, with a simple “click,” you can get reminders about the protective measures that should be taken at that risk level to protect workers from heat-related illness-reminders about drinking enough fluids, scheduling rest breaks, planning for and knowing what to do in an emergency, adjusting work operations, gradually building up the workload for new workers, training on heat illness signs and symptoms, and monitoring each other for signs and symptoms of heat-related illness. Visit OSHA to learn more and download the app for your Android, iPhone or iPad.