I was having lunch recently with a long time customer and he asked me “is forklift operator safety training really required by OSHA or is that just a scare tactic used to sell training?”. After I explained to him it was an OSHA requirement and the fine could be as high as $10,000 per non-trained operator, he continued to protest “I just don’t see the need it has not been a problem for us in the past.”
Many times this is the perception we run into when trying to educate companies on the importance of having safe, trained forklift operators. It is not a problem until it is a REALLY BIG problem. With 26 years in the industry, I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. Talked with operators who have suffered bumps and bruises, concussions, and broken bones. I’ve personally witnessed operators overturn equipment and have had the unfortunate experience of helping companies establish a training program AFTER an injury accident that resulted in lifetime disabilities and death.
Watch the collection of forklift accident videos I put together from Youtube.
Is my experience the norm or have I just seen more than my fair share of accidents because that’s my business? The Occupational and Health Administration (OSHA) data show that there are 96,000 forklift accidents in the United States annually. OSHA statistics indicate that there are roughly 85 forklift fatalities and 34,900 serious injuries each year, with 42 percent of the forklift fatalities from the operator’s being crushed by a tipping vehicle. The owner of a machinery and equipment training school was killed while filming a forklift safety video. He was thrown from the forklift and crushed. The investigation revealed the fatality was due to driver error, high speed over rough terrain, and an unused seat belt. Unfortunately, this type of forklift fatality is all too common.
June is National Safety Month, and June 10th is National Forklift Safety Day. This day provides an opportunity for the industry to educate customers, policymakers and the administration on forklift operating safety practices. National Forklift Safety Day is sponsored by the Industrial Truck Association and serves as a focal point for manufacturers to highlight the safe use of forklifts and the importance of operator training. The hope is that National Forklift Safety Day will provide greater awareness of safe practices and in turn encourage safer behavior.
Studies show that many forklift accidents could have been prevented by better training. No one starts out with the innate knowledge, skills, and abilities to safely operate a forklift. As OSHA requires, drivers must be properly trained to do so. The lesson to be learned is, operating a forklift without training is dangerous and can even be fatal to you or other employees working in the area.
The use of engine and electric powered industrial forklift trucks are critical to many industries. By implementing a forklift safety program you can help prevent unavoidable accidents. Please be proactive and not reactive. If you would like a free evaluation of your current equipment operator safety program, send me a quick message and we will have the proper trainers contact you.