Water Well Journal

August 2015

Water Well Journal

Issue link: http://read.dmtmag.com/i/543740

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Page 43 of 71

N early 100 workers are killed and another 20,000 are seriously injured in forklift incidents each year in the United States. Statistics indicate the three most common forklift-related fatalities involve forklift overturns, workers on foot being struck by forklifts, and drivers crushed by forklifts. Case studies suggest the forklift vehicle, the work environ- ment, and actions of the operator can all contribute to the injuries or fatal incidents. Safety Training Investigations of forklift-related deaths by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health indicate many workers are not using, or may be unaware of, safety proce- dures and proper techniques for using forklifts. A comprehensive safety training program is always one of the most important elements in preventing injuries and death. It is particularly vital to forklift operation. Heavy mobile equipment always has the potential to cause injury if not operated properly. Inexperienced or untrained workers can make the fatal mistake of thinking it just takes common sense, or the ability to drive a car, to operate a forklift. Also be aware it is a viola- tion for anyone under the age of 18 to operate a forklift. Worker Training As part of work training for the safe operation of forklifts: • Make sure workers do not operate a forklift unless they have been trained and licensed. • Develop, implement, and enforce a comprehensive written safety program that includes worker training, operator licensing, and a timetable for reviewing and revising the program. • Operator training should address factors affecting the stability of a forklift—the weight and symmetry of the load, the speed at which the forklift is traveling, operating surface, tire pressure, and driving behavior. • Forklift drivers who handle uneven, unbalanced loads need to be trained when their work includes this activity. • Ensure operator-restraint systems are being used on sit-down type forklifts. Operator Restraint Systems Forklift manufacturers have been required to equip new sit-down type forklifts with operator restraint systems. Many manufacturers of these forklifts offer restraint systems that can be retrofitted on older forklifts. Many fatalities resulting from overturns of sit-down type forklifts might have been prevented if the operator had been restrained. The overhead guard of the forklift is generally the part that crushes the operator's head or torso after the driver falls or jumps outside the operator's compartment. The risk of being crushed by the overhead guard is greatly reduced if the opera- tor of a sit-down type forklift remains inside the operator's compartment. Because many forklifts are not equipped with a restraint system and operator compliance is less than 100% on forklifts equipped with a restraint system, drivers of sit-down type forklifts should be instructed not to jump from the operator's compartment but stay inside by leaning in the opposite direc- tion of the overturn. Operators of stand-up type forklifts with rear-entry access should be trained to exit from the vehicle by stepping back- ward if a lateral tip-over occurs. Forklift Inspection and Maintenance Establish a vehicle inspection and maintenance program. Every forklift manufacturer has recommendations for upkeep and premium performance, but an inspection by each operator before the start of each shift is critical. Somebody on the previous shift might not want to admit they had a problem when they were using the vehicle. Unless this is reported, it might lead to problems facing the operator on the next shift. Retrofit any old sit-down type forklifts with an operator restraint system if possible. Lifting Workers on a Forklift Make sure operators use only an approved lifting cage and adhere to general safety practices for elevating employees with a forklift. Also, secure the platform to the lifting carriage or forks. Provide means for any workers on the elevated platform to shut power off to the forklift whenever the vehicle is equipped ALEXANDRA WALSH FORKLIFT SAFETY SHOULD BE A PRIORITY It's important you follow safe practices when operating a forklift. SAFETY MATTERS waterwelljournal.com 42 August 2015 WWJ Determining the best way to protect workers from injury largely depends on the type of forklift operated and the worksite where it is being used.

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