Regulating Forklift Safety: Strategies to Prevent Injury and Improve Compliance
- Christopher A. Janicak (Indiana University of Pennsylvania) | Tracey L. Cekada (Indiana University of Pennsylvania)
- Document ID
- American Society of Safety Engineers
- Professional Safety
- Publication Date
- October 2016
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 38 - 44
- 2016. American Society of Safety Engineers
- 0 in the last 30 days
- 31 since 2007
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- Powered industrial trucks continue to be one of OSHA’s top 10 most frequently cited standards. Thousands of occupational injuries resulting in days away from work still occur each year from them.
- OSH professionals must be familiar with consensus standards, letters of interpretation and compliance directives as they relate to powered industrial trucks.
- This article discusses how powered industrial trucks are regulated, OSHA’s approach to powered industrial truck enforcement, the major hazards involved with powered industrial trucks, and strategies employers can use to prevent injuries and improve compliance with OSHA standards.
- Recent technological advances are mentioned in an effort to identify efforts by manufacturers to control hazards related to forklift operation.
A powered industrial truck is a mobile power propelled truck used to carry, push, pull, lift, stack or tier materials (OSHA, 2015a). They are used across all industries in the U.S., most often in manufacturing and warehouse facilities. Types include stand-up rider trucks, sit-down rider trucks, low-lift platform trucks and high-lift trucks. Some trucks can be designed for use on compacted improved surfaces, while others are designed for use on unimproved natural terrains and disturbed terrains found on construction sites. The industrial vehicles can be manned or they can be automatic guided vehicles.
Use of powered industrial trucks in the workplace can pose many hazards to truck operators and those working near the vehicles. For operators, hazards include rollovers and tip-overs, and falling loads. Hazards for employees working near operating forklifts include being struck by the vehicle and falling loads. Still other hazards could involve fall hazards to personnel being lifted with the truck forks, and fires and burn hazards for those engaged in refueling operations.
Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, 2013a) data identify approximately 6,820 occupational injuries involving forklifts that resulted in days away from work. Of these injuries, 4,320 occurred in the manufacturing industry. The same year, 4,585 total deaths occurred, of which 70 were due to forklifts (BLS, 2013b).The following case studies demonstrate the seriousness of workplace forklift incidents.
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