Spotlight on Safety – Forklift Operations

If there is one thing that gets hammered home to folks in the logistics, manufacturing and construction industries on a daily basis, it is the importance of safety.  At Medlin Ramps, we aren’t tired of it; in fact, we think it should be not just everyone’s highest priority, but their responsibility as well – and that includes us.  Responsibility for safety doesn’t stop at the end of a transaction when you purchase our equipment (which is manufactured to the highest standards of quality and safety.)  That’s why we’re using our blog to shine a spotlight on major safety issues, and measures you and your employees can put into place to help reduce injuries and fatalities.

With that in mind, today’s piece is on forklift safety.  According to OSHA, forklift accidents kill close to 100 people every year, and cause about 35,000serious injuries – to say nothing of the almost 62,000 minor accidents, injuries and mishaps that are reported. Who knows how many go unreported every year, for that matter?  But if you think about it, there are about 1.7 million workers in logistics in America, and about a million of them actually work in warehouses, loading yards and other places using forklifts; so more than 1 in 100 workers, or greater than 1%, is affected by a forklift injury every year – and those are just the ones that are reported!  Those odds are not great for the average employee, when you factor in the fact that forklifts can crush bones and cause other major, traumatic injuries.

We don’t make forklifts at Medlin Ramps.  However, we make a lot of equipment for operations where people regularly use forklifts and powered trucks, so we want to share some of our experience with you about how to increase safety around these kinds of equipment.

First of all, know the hazards.  Depending on the type, there are different hazards involved.  A counterbalanced rider truck with a high lift where the worker sits down will cause more fall accidents than motorized hand trucks, simply because the lift goes higher.  Each piece of equipment comes with its own set of specific hazards, and you shouldn’t rely on experience to let you know which is which – there is a ton of great material on the Internet, including at the OSHA web site, to help you get up-to-date on the most pressing safety issues in the industry today.

You also have to make sure your training is robust and up-to-date.  Hey, we understand that OSHA is a big, very stringent regulatory agency whose rules sometimes seem a little impractical or end up costing you a lot of money.  However, they’re not just making up rules because they like being bossy.  Their standards for training make sure that your workers don’t just know how to keep people safe on your worksite, but on any worksite – meaning that new hires you make from other companies already have robust, broadly applicable knowledge that will help you.  Ensure that workers are protected by keeping your training fully up-to-date with OSHA; it’s not just a check box on the audit, it’s a matter of life or death.

Last, creating a culture of safety is incredibly important.  Those measures to prevent collisions, vehicle tip-overs, falls, being crushed between the forklift and another surface, foot and eye injuries and everything else shouldn’t become commonplace and something for workers to get complacent about.  They should be things workers are rewarded for following and encouraged to reinforce among themselves.

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