The Cost of Not Protecting Our Workforce

A 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.

Report – The Cost of Not Protecting Workers

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Forklift Safety “Best Practices”

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 Prevent Workplace Violence

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.


New OSHA Report; The Costs of Not Protecting Our Workforce

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 Thorough and 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.


Changes to OSHA Accident Reporting

As of Jan. 1, 2015, there is a change to what covered employers are required to report to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Employers are now be required to report all work-related fatalities within 8 hours and all in-patient hospitalizations, amputations, and losses of an eye within 24 hours of finding out about the incident.
Previously, employers were required to report all workplace fatalities and when three or more workers were hospitalized in the same incident. The updated reporting requirements have a life-saving purpose: they will enable employers and workers to prevent future injuries by identifying and eliminating the most serious workplace hazards. Visit OSHA webpage to learn more…
Keep your forklift operators and everyone working around your forklift safe, by providing credible and thorough forklift operator training. To schedule training or inquire, please contact us or give us a call at 888-530-1832. Apex Material Handling is your source for forklift operator training in Chicago and West Chicago.

Is Your New Employee Ready to Operate Your Forklifts Under Your Operating Conditions?

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 Apex 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.

If you need assistance with forklift operator training, visit our Training Page, then Contact Us or give us a call at 888-530-1832.