With the recession beginning to ease, a lot of companies have been forced to cut back, to do more with fewer people and relocating many employees to new jobs they may have never done. With this in mind you can see where OSHA would have reason to be sure that these employees are being protected in the workplace.
However when we think of OSHA and material handling we all-too-often think simply of operator training and the guidelines for keeping forklift operators and pedestrians safe extends far beyond the scope of training. But before we address these areas of concern lets take a quick look at some of the lesser-known conditions when operator training is required:
When an operator has been observed to operate the vehicle in an unsafe manner 1910.178(I)(4)(ii)(A)
The operator has been in a near-miss accident 1910.178(I)(4)(ii)(B)
The operator has received an evaluation that reveals that the operator is not operating the truck safely 1910.178(I)(4)(ii)(C)
The operator is assigned to a different type of truck (1910.178(I)(4)(ii)(D)
A condition in the workplace changes in a manner that could affect safe operation of the truck 1910.178(I)(4)(ii)(E)
During the recession forklifts have been shuffled and employees re-assigned. Being sure they are up-to-date for the new conditions is essential to a safe facility and keeping compliant with OSHA regulations. Now, lets look at some of the conditions that could put your OSHA inspection in peril.
Wheel chocks If your forklifts are parked on an incline not only must the brakes be set and engine in neutral, but the wheels must be chocked. Does your facility have wheel chocks at locations in your facility (dock ramps) where these are required? OSHA does not give an incline degree so think conservatively. It is better to be over-prepared than under-prepared. In addition to wheel chocks for forklifts, your facility must provide wheel chocks for semi-trailers to keep them secured against the dock during loading and unloading. Are all your semi-trailer wheel chocks available and in good working condition?
Horns Are all the horns working on your lift trucks? OSHA requires sound the horn at cross aisles and other locations where the vision is obstructed. 1910.178 (n) (4) To further protect employees and ensure a safe facility back-up alarms are a best practice. Are your lifts equipped and are they all in good working order?
Lock-outs If a forklift is in need of repair it must remain out of service until repairs are made. How do you ensure that this forklift is not used by an unsuspecting employee? Lock-out kits prevent forklift from being used by employees until they are repaired and returned to service.
Seat Belts Are your lift trucks seat belts all in good working order?
Fire Extinguishers Depending upon Class of potential fire, employees must be provided with fire extinguishers so that their distance from and extinguisher is no more than 50ft (class B hazard area) to 75ft (Class A and D). In the absence of an appropriate sprinkler system, forklifts that travel out into a facility without adequate fire extinguisher coverage it is good practice to equip each lift truck with an extinguisher, particularly if you use IC engine trucks. If using IC it is always a best practice to minimize facility hazards by equipping your lift trucks with a working fire extinguisher.
Lighting Are your forklifts appropriately equipped with working lights where lighting is less than 2 lumens per square foot 1910.178 (h) (2) This generally means all forklifts that enter a semi-trailer equipped with an opaque or solid roof, will require lights on your lift truck. To reinforce facility safety and provide additional protection safety lights are recommended on the rear overhead guard.
Battery Changing Is your battery changing station safe? If youre using a crane, has it been inspected recently for safety? Do you have the appropriate personal equipment for changing batteries (gloves, goggles etc ) and are there appropriate warning signs?
Daily Inspections Are your forklifts being inspected before each shift by your operators? OSHA provides and excellent e-tool for safe forklift operational inspections on their site: http://www.osha.gov/dcsp/products/etools/pit/operations/servicing.html#PreOperation
While not specifically covered in OSHAs requirements, an inspection by an OSHA official will also target these areas.
Tires Chunked tires or severely worn tires present a significant hazard for operators and pedestrians alike.
Gauges Are all the gauges and indicators in good working order on each of your lift trucks? This includes hour meters, oil pressure, temperature and any other gauge installed by the manufacturer.
Forks When was the last time your forks were inspected for wear, cracks or other unsafe conditions? See our previous Feature Article Proper Fork and Chain Inspections.
While this is just a partial list, OSHA will want to be satisfied that you have in place a program for ensuring a safe forklift fleet. A good Preventive Maintenance Program (PM) with a responsible partner will help keep your forklift fleet in peak operating condition and operators and pedestrians as safe as possible.
We hope this list helps you to understand that when it comes to a safe forklift fleet operator training is just one facet of a safe and productive working environment. If you want a partner that will work with you to make sure you achieve this, Tri-Lift should be your next call.
When it comes to forklift safety, parts and preventive maintenance programs no company beats Tri-Lift. Our team of professionals have been doing it for decades and we would appreciate the opportunity to earn your business. Visit us at www.tri-lift.com to learn more about us, and the next time a need arises, give us a call. You will be glad you did.