Forklift Safety Is Everyone’s Responsibility

Originally published by the following source: SBC MagazineJuly 8, 2020
by Joel Reynolds

   

It may not be happening on your jobsite, but forklifts cause 22 nonfatal injuries a day nationwide.

A large blue forklift

Acting OSHA administrator, Loren Sweatt, emphasized this fact at a presentation for the 2020 National Forklift Safety Day (NFSD) held on June 9. In a recent Safety+Health article, NFSD official Chuck Moratz sums up the underlying mentality behind forklift safety: “There is no downside to constant, positive reinforcement.”

This constant reinforcement should not be solely focused on the forklift operators. Moratz continues: “Any time you have employees working in close proximity to forklifts or other heavy equipment, the potential for serious incidents becomes very real…. Both pedestrians and forklift operators need to know the safety rules and procedures, and they must follow them in order to keep the flow of products moving without endangering others in the process.” The training requirements for operators is not enough to maintain a safe jobsite – safety is everyone’s responsibility.

If you think discussions about jobsite safety are a waste time and money, a few key statistics might change your mind. In a single year in the construction industry alone, there were 175 federal inspections that resulted in 219 forklift-related citations and $326,605 in penalties. If we extend that view to include manufacturing, transportation and warehouse, wholesale, and retail, the penalties from this one-year window totaled $3,827,761.

Screenshot of the Jobsite Equipment Toolbox Talk

Shifting to the human impact aspect of this issue, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that 729 occupational fatalities involving forklifts occurred from 2011 to 2018. In 2018 alone, 115 workers were killed in incidents involving forklifts, a 55.4 percent increase from 2017.

Anyone who works in the construction industry is aware that an injury can be hugely detrimental to a worker’s livelihood, a project’s success, and a company’s reputation. NFC’s FrameSAFE program was designed to provide resources for safe forklift use and to inform all workers about the potential hazards involved with forklifts on the jobsite.

FrameSAFE resources include signage, checklists, and Toolbox Talks that can be reviewed with workers on a regular basis. In addition, job-specific hardhat stickers are a quick and easy way to visually confirm an operator’s certification, bypassing any potential language or noise barriers to communication.

Providing “constant, positive reinforcement” regarding forklift safety on the jobsite is another step toward fewer incidents and safer workers!

For more information about FrameSAFE, visit the NFC website. Mark your calendars for the eighth annual National Forklift Safety Day, scheduled for June 8, 2021.

 

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