Forklifts are the workhorses of industry. They’re essential to efficient material-handling operations. But forklifts are also big, dangerous, and potentially deadly pieces of equipment. To protect employees, you need strict rules and a comprehensive training and evaluation program.
Preventing forklift accidents is within the reach of any forklift safety program. What you need is:
- A strict and consistently enforced policy that clearly states that no unauthorized worker of any age is allowed to operate a forklift
- Comprehensive training, evaluation, and certification for those who are authorized to drive forklifts
- Emphasis during training on safe operation as well as on what could go wrong and how to prevent problems that can lead to accidents
- Close supervision of forklift operations
You also have to design a program specifically for your facility that includes:
- Establishing safe speed limits and traffic rules
- Assigning and marking forklift lanes
- Posting warning sign
- Requiring drivers to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and to sound their horn at intersections, corners, etc.
- Insisting that operators wear seat belts
- Training forklift operators to stay at least three truck lengths behind another lift truck
- Requiring drivers to slow down for turns, be especially careful on inclines, and stay away from ramp or platform edges
- Teaching procedures to be followed in the event of a tip-over
- Training drivers how to raise and lower loads correctly, and how to position loads when traveling
- Teaching nonoperators to work and move safely around forklifts
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Of course, no forklift safety program is complete without a strong training component that makes sure only well-trained, safe drivers ever get behind the wheel of a lift truck.
OSHA’s forklift training requirements (29 CFR 1910.178(l)) specify that operator training must:
- Be conducted by trainers who have the requisite knowledge and experience to train operators and evaluate their performance
- Consist of a combination of formal instruction and practical training
- Teach operators about forklift-related topics such as operating instructions, vehicle inspection, lifting capacity, and other operating limitations
In addition, you must evaluate forklift operator performance at least once every 3 years and retrain if:
- An operator is involved in an accident or near-miss
- An operator has been observed driving unsafely
- An evaluation has determined the operator needs additional training
- An operator is assigned to use a different kind of forklift
- There are changes in the workplace that could affect safe forklift operations
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You’ll find all these forklift safety requirements and more in the forklift section of BLR’s Safety Audit Checklists. You also get a 49-point compliance checklist highlighting key provisions of OSHA’s powered industrial truck standard and a second checklist with essential safety information for forklift operators.
All told, this best-selling program provides you with more than 300 separate safety checklists keyed to three main criteria:
- OSHA compliance checklists, built right from the government standards in such key areas as HazCom, lockout/tagout, electrical safety, and many more.
- “Plaintiff attorney” checklists, built around those non-OSHA issues that often attract lawsuits.
- Safety management checklists that monitor the administrative procedures you need to have for topics such as OSHA 300 Log maintenance, training program scheduling and recording, and OSHA-required employee notifications.
Make as many copies as you need for all your supervisors and managers, and distribute them. What’s more, the entire program is updated annually. And the cost averages only about $1 per checklist.
If this method of ensuring a safer, more OSHA-compliant workplace interests you, we’ll be happy to make Safety Audit Checklists available for a no-cost, no-obligation, 30-day evaluation in your office. Just let us know, and we’ll be pleased to arrange it.
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