Cite Safety Blog

Saturday, 07 December 2013 19:16

AWP Use Tip Sheets

OSHA and Scaffold & Access Industry Association Alliance Develop Five Tip Sheets for AWP Equipment

Kansas City, Mo. - Through the OSHA and Scaffold & Access Industry Association (SAIA) Alliance, we are proud to announce the development of five new tip sheets.  Each of the tip sheets focus on key methods of using AWP equipment.  AWP Jobsite Checklist, AWP Prestart Safety Checklist, Preparing AWP’s for Transport, Rescue Plans for AWPs and Selecting and Implementing a Fall Protection System for an AWP are designed to help the  industry understand their responsibilities when operating, transporting and using AWP equipment.

“The AWP industry needs documents like this available for use. Hundreds of thousands of AWP equipment are in use through auction sales, rentals or purchasing directly from manufactures or dealers. The OSHA and SAIA alliance teams worked hard to create a significant amount of safety information. The more tip sheets we get out the safer the industry is,” saidSAIA President, Marty Coughlin.

These tip sheets add to the portfolio of complimentary SAIA and OSHA tools for scaffold & access workers.  These documents are available for download at http://www.saiaonline.org/OSHAAlliance or you may contact SAIA headquarters at 816.595.4860 or by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

About the SAIA
The Scaffold & Access Industry Association (SAIA) is a non-profit trade 501(c)(6) association committed to raising the standards of professionalism within the scaffold and access industry. The SAIA represents all facets of the scaffold & access industry through various councils that include, aerial work platform, construction hoist, fall protection equipment, international, industrial, mast climbing, plank and platform, supported scaffold and suspended scaffold. Through its various programs, the SAIA promotes safety, training and a highly professional, responsible image of the scaffold and access professional. The SAIA delivers hundreds of safety training programs a year at various locations throughout the world. These programs cover all aspects of scaffold and access safety and equipment use. The SAIA is also the secretariat for the American National Standard Institute, ASC A92 standards. For more information, call 816 595.4860 or visit us at www.saiaonline.org.

- See more at: http://www.saiaonline.org/scaffoldnews/OSHA_SAIA_Develop_Five_AWP_Tip_Sheets_138.asp#sthash.oQq6qurZ.dpuf

Saturday, 07 December 2013 19:14

Seat Belt use in Forklifts

Below is a "Letter of Interpretation" regarding seat belt usage in forklifts.  Please keep in mind that both Oregon OSHA and Washington L&I require all operators to wear seat belts in forklifts at all times

 

March 7, 1996

Mr. Robert B. Walker, CSP
Director - Health, Safety and
Industrial Hygiene
Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc.
P.O. Box 1408900
Nashville, TN 37214-8900

Dear Mr. Walker:

Thank you for your letter dated January 29, addressed to Mr. Thomas H. Seymour, Deputy Director for Safety Standards Programs, requesting clarification of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) policy regarding the use of seat belts on powered industrial trucks. Your letter was transferred to the Directorate of Compliance Programs for response. I apologize for the delay in responding to your request. The questions you asked and the corresponding responses follow.

Question 1: Are seat belts required to be installed on forklift trucks? If so, under what standard and section is this addressed?

Response: OSHA does not have a specific standard that requires the use or installation of seat belts, however, Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) requires employers to protect employees from serious and recognized hazards. Recognition of the hazard of powered industrial truck tipover and the need for the use of an operator restraint system is evidenced by certain requirements for powered industrial trucks at ASME B56.1-1993 - Safety Standard for Low Lift and High Lift Trucks. National consensus standard ASME B56.1-1993 requires that powered industrial trucks manufactured after 1992 must have a restraint device, system, or enclosure that is intended to assist the operator in reducing the risk of entrapment of the operator's head and/or torso between the truck and ground in the event of a tipover. Therefore, OSHA would enforce this standard under Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act.

Question 2: Is it required for new forklift trucks to have seat belts. If so, under what standard and section is this addressed?

Response: See response to question #1.

Question 3: Is it required for forklift trucks already in use (that do not have seat belts) to be retrofitted for seat belts? If so, under what standard and section is this addressed?

Response: Please be advised that when an employer has been notified by a powered industrial truck manufacturer or association of the hazard of lift truck overturn and made aware of an operator restraint system retrofit program, then OSHA may cite Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act if the employer has not taken advantage of the program. Other employers who have powered industrial trucks that are not equipped with operator restraint systems should strongly consider contacting the appropriate powered industrial truck manufacturer for advice on obtaining and installing such devices for the prevention of an accident or injury from a lift truck overturn hazard.

Question 4: If seat belts are installed on forklift trucks, is it required for the seat belts to be worn? If so, under what standard and section is this addressed?

Response: National consensus standard ASME B56.1-1993 requires that use of an operator restraint system when equipped on a powered industrial truck. Therefore, OSHA would enforce the use of such a device under Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act.

If we can be of any further assistance, please contact [the Office of General Industry Compliance Assistance at (202) 693-1850].

Sincerely,

John B. Miles, Jr.
Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs

(Salem) – The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA) cited Munoz Construction $70,000 for not protecting its employees from falls. The fine was based on a willful violation and was the result of an inspection at a Portland apartment complex on Feb. 27, 2013. The employer appealed the citation but agreed to it following an informal conference with Oregon OSHA. 
                                                                                     

During the inspection, an Oregon OSHA inspector observed two employees working on a second-story roof standing on trusses. Neither employee was wearing fall protection. The owner was on site and said his employees were comfortable working without fall protection, even though it was available in the company trailer.

 

“Falls are the primary source of serious injury and deaths in construction,” said Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood. “With that in mind, there is simply no excuse for an employer to decide that compliance with the rules is not necessary.”

 

Under Oregon OSHA’s rules, employers must protect employees from falls when working at heights of 10 feet or more. The typical penalty for a first-time violation ranges from $400 to $1,000 for a small employer and increases with each repeat violation. A willful violation, where an employer intentionally or knowingly allows a violation to occur, can result in a $70,000 penalty.

 

Munoz Construction was also cited $2,920 for a repeat fall violation on Sept. 13, 2013, at a site in North Plains, Ore. Employees were working at 12 feet on a house without fall protection.

 

In addition to the 10-foot rule, employees working at six feet or above a lower level also need to be protected from falls near open windows, doors, mezzanines, balconies, or walkways. There are different ways to comply with Oregon OSHA’s fall protection rule, such as using guardrails, catch platforms, and personal fall arrest systems. Since 2000, the agency has placed an emphasis on fall hazard inspections in construction. 

 

More details can be found on Oregon OSHA’s website at http://orosha.org/subjects/fall_protection.html. Federal OSHA also has training tools and posters available to help raise awareness around falls: http://www.osha.gov/stopfalls/index.html.

###

 

About Oregon OSHA:
Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, enforces the state’s workplace safety and health rules and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. For more information, go to www.orosha.org.

 

The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, go to www.dcbs.oregon.gov.
Follow DCBS on Twitter: http://twitter.com/OregonDCBS. Receive consumer help and information on insurance, mortgages, investments, workplace safety, and more.

Saturday, 07 December 2013 19:10

Worker Fines

Should OSHA Fine Workers for Unsafe Actions?

 

Imagine this scenario: During an inspection of your facility, an OSHA compliance officer observes a worker performing his duties without safety goggles, gloves or earplugs – despite ubiquitous signage declaring that the aforementioned PPE is mandatory at all times on the shop floor.

When the compliance officer confronts the worker and reminds him of the importance of proper PPE, the worker shrugs his shoulders and replies, "I'll take my chances."

The OSHA inspector promptly pulls out a pad of paper and issues the safety scofflaw a $500 fine.

In the United States, OSHA holds employers – not employees – accountable for safety infractions, regardless of the circumstances.

But that's not the case in Alberta, Canada. At least not anymore.

Recently approved legislation in Alberta authorizes safety and health authorities "to issue tickets of up to $500 on the spot to employers or workers caught flouting workplace-safety rules on the job site," according to an article in the Calgary Herald.

Unlike OSHA, Alberta Occupational Health and Safety has not had the ability to issue monetary fines to workplaces (or workers) for safety infractions – until now.

Starting Oct. 1, the agency will have the authority to issue fines of up to $10,000 to negligent employers, according to the Calgary Herald.

Starting Jan. 1, the agency will be able to issue on-site tickets to workers for safety violations.

If that seems draconian, consider that the new enforcement authority actually brings Alberta "in line with Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan – all of which either already have, or are considering, similar systems," according to the Calgary Herald.

The legislation certainly raises an interesting argument.

On the one hand, there are those – such as Alberta Federation of Labor president Gil McGowan – who believe that punishing employees for safety infractions "takes the onus off employers to invest in proper safety training and procedures."

"Employers will end up washing their hands of responsibility for health and safety and saying it's the workers' problem and the workers' fault," McGowan told the Calgary Herald. "That's not the way to make workplaces safer in this province."

On the other hand, there is the argument that "workplace safety is a shared responsibility."

"You can often have policies in place, but if they're not being followed, you're not in a safe workplace," Craig Loewen, press secretary to Human Services Minister Dave Hancock, who is responsible for Occupational Health and Safety, told the Calgary Herald.

"And if you're one of the workers that is following the proper safety procedures and guidelines, but one of your co-workers is not, you're also put at risk."

There are more than 60 workplace-safety infractions that could prompt Alberta authorities to issue a ticket to employers or employees, according to the article. Those infractions range from failing to wear proper PPE to smoking near flammable materials.

If a worker receives a ticket, he or she can plead guilty and fight the citation in court, according to the Calgary Herald.

What are your thoughts?

Boom lift tips over on S. Eugene hill, man sent to the hospital

130809-crane-tips-660

Photos »

 

EUGENE, Ore. -- A man was sent to the hospital after a boom lift-type crane toppled over near 49th and Willamette Street Friday night while a crew was working on communication lines near the Sunset Hills cemetery.

The man was unresponsive when paramedics put him in an ambulance, officials said.

Police at the scene said the man was with a crew that had been working on some communication lines for some time.

He went back up on the stick boom lift to troubleshoot the team's work when one of the workers reported hearing a crash from up the hill at around 6:20 p.m. Friday.

Lourie Morgan is a registered nurse who lives across Willamette on 49th Avenue. She was the first person at the scene and helped assist the man until firefighters arrived.

"I heard this loud crash... I came outside and he was laying face-down by that tree. He had blood coming out of his mouth," said Morgan.

She said the man had very belabored breath when he was taken to the hospital.

Police officials said the man was wearing a harness when the lift tipped over.

Willamette was closed down between 48th Ave. and Coachman Drive for a short time while crews worked the scene.

Saturday, 07 December 2013 19:01

Grain Handling Safety

Grain Handling

OSHA has developed this webpage to provide workers, employers, and safety and health professionals useful, up-to-date safety and health information on grain handling facilities.

What are grain handling facilities?

Grain handling facilities are facilities that may receive, handle, store, process and ship bulk raw agricultural commodities such as (but not limited to) corn, wheat, oats, barley, sunflower seeds, and soybeans. Grain handling facilities include grain elevators, feed mills, flour mills, rice mills, dust pelletizing plants, dry corn mills, facilities with soybean flaking operations, and facilities with dry grinding operations of soycake.

What are the hazards in grain handling facilities?

The grain handling industry is a high hazard industry where workers can be exposed to numerous serious and life threatening hazards. These hazards include: fires and explosions from grain dust accumulation, suffocation from engulfment and entrapment in grain bins, falls from heights and crushing injuries and amputations from grain handling equipment.

Suffocation is a leading cause of death in grain storage bins. In 2010, 51 workers were engulfed by grain stored in bins, and 26 died—the highest number on record, according to a report issued by Purdue University [193 KB PDF, 5 pages]. Suffocation can occur when a worker becomes buried (engulfed) by grain as they walk on moving grain or attempt to clear grain built up on the inside of a bin. Moving grain acts like "quicksand" and can bury a worker in seconds. "Bridged" grain and vertical piles of stored grain can also collapse unexpectedly if a worker stands on or near it. The behavior and weight of the grain make it extremely difficult for a worker to get out of it without assistance. OSHA has sent notification letters to approximately 13,000 grain elevator operators warning the employers to not allow workers to enter grain storage facilities without proper equipment, precautions (such as turning off and locking/tagging out all equipment used so that the grain is no being emptied or moving into the bin) and training.

Grain dust explosions are often severe, involving loss of life and substantial property damage. Over the last 35 years, there have been over 500 explosions in grain handling facilities across the United States, which have killed more than 180 people and injured more than 675. Grain dust is the main source of fuel for explosions in grain handling. Grain dust is highly combustible and can burn or explode if enough becomes airborne or accumulates on a surface and finds an ignition source (such as hot bearing, overheated motor, misaligned conveyor belt, welding, cutting, and brazing). OSHA standards require that both grain dust and ignition sources must be controlled in grain elevators to prevent these often deadly explosions.

Falls from height can occur from many walking/working surfaces throughout a grain handling facility. Examples of such surfaces include (but are not limited to) floors, machinery, structures, roofs, skylights, unguarded holes, wall and floor openings, ladders, unguarded catwalks, platforms and manlifts. Falls can also occur as workers move from the vertical exterior ladders on grain bins to the bin roof or through a bin entrance.

Mechanical equipment within grain storage structures, such as augers and conveyors, present serious entanglement and amputation hazards. Workers can easily get their limbs caught in improperly guarded moving parts of such mechanical equipment.

Storage structures can also develop hazardous atmospheres due to gases given off from spoiling grain or fumigation. Workers may be exposed to unhealthy levels of airborne contaminants, including molds, chemical fumigants (toxic chemicals), and gases associated with decaying and fermenting silage. Fumigants are commonly used for insect control on stored grain and many have inadequate warning properties. Exposure to fumigants may cause permanent central nervous system damage, heart and vascular disease, and lung edema as well as cancer. These gases may result in a worker passing out and falling into the grain, thus becoming engulfed and suffocating or otherwise injuring themselves.

What can be done to reduce the hazards in grain handling facilities?

grainhandling3

On August 4, 2010 and again on February 1, 2011, OSHA issued warning letters to the grain handling industry following a series of incidents including the recent suffocation of 2 teenagers in Illinois grain elevator. In response to the rising number of workers entrapped and killed in grain storage facilities, OSHA has also issued a new fact sheet, Worker Entry Into Grain Storage Bins [1 MB PDF*, 2 pages] in August 2010 for workers and employers emphasizing the hazards of grain storage bin entry and the safe procedures that all employers must follow. Additionally, OSHA issued a safety and health information bulletin (SHIB) entitled, Combustible Dust in Industry: Preventing and Mitigating the Effects of Fire and Explosions, and a Hazard Alert: Combustible Dust Explosions [790 KB PDF*, 2 pages] fact sheet.

The control of worker’s exposure to hazards in grain handling facilities are addressed in the OSHA standard for grain handling facilities (29 CFR 1910.272), as well as in other general industry standards. These standards reduce the risk to workers by requiring that employers follow established, common sense safety practices when working in grain handling facilities.

When workers enter storage bins, employers must (among other things):

  1. Turn off and lock out all powered equipment associated with the bin, including augers used to help move the grain, so that the grain is not being emptied or moving out or into the bin. Standing on moving grain is deadly; the grain can act like "quicksand" and bury a worker in seconds. Moving grain out of a bin while a worker is in the bin creates a suction that can pull the workers into the grain in seconds.
  2. Prohibit walking down grain and similar practices where an employee walks on grain to make it flow.
  3. Provide all employees a body harness with a lifeline, or a boatswains chair, and ensure that it is secured prior to the employee entering the bin.
  4. Provide an observer stationed outside the bin or silo being entered by an employee. Ensure the observer is equipped to provide assistance and that their only task is to continuously track the employee in the bin. Prohibit workers from entry into bins or silos underneath a bridging condition, or where a build-up of grain products on the sides could fall and bury them.
  5. Train all workers for the specific hazardous work operations they are to perform when entering and working inside of grain bins.
  6. Test the air within a bin or silo prior to entry for the presence of combustible and toxic gases, and to determine if there is sufficient oxygen.
  7. If detected by testing, vent hazardous atmospheres to ensure that combustible and toxic gas levels are reduced to non hazardous levels, and that sufficient oxygen levels are maintained.
  8. Ensure a permit is issued for each instance a worker enters a bin or silo, certifying that the precautions listed above have been implemented.

grainhandling2

To prevent dust explosions and fires, employers must (among other things):

  1. Develop and implement a written housekeeping program with instructions to reduce dust accumulations on ledges, floors, equipment and other exposed surfaces.
  2. Identify "priority" housekeeping areas in grain elevators. The "priority" housekeeping areas include floor areas within 35 feet of inside bucket elevators, floors of enclosed areas containing grinding equipment and floors of enclosed areas containing grain dryers located inside the facility. Dust accumulations in these priority housekeeping areas shall not exceed 1/8th inch. Employers should make every effort to minimize dust accumulations on exposed surfaces since dust is the fuel for a fire or explosion, and it is recognized that a 1/8 inch dust accumulation is more than enough to fuel such occurrences.
  3. Inside bucket elevators can undergo primary explosions. OSHA's grain handling standard requires that belts for these bucket elevators purchased after March 30, 1988 are conductive and have a surface electrical resistance not exceeding 300 megohms. Bucket elevators must have an opening to the head pulley section and boot section to allow for inspection, maintenance, and cleaning. Bearings must be mounted externally to the leg casing or the employer must provide vibration, temperature, or other monitoring of the conditions of the bearings if the bearings are mounted inside or partially inside the leg casing. These bucket elevators must be equipped with a motion detection device which will shut-down the elevator when the belt speed is reduced by no more than 20% of the normal operating speed.
  4. Implement a preventative maintenance program with regularly scheduled inspections for mechanical and safety control equipment, which may include heat producing equipment such as motors, bearings, belts etc. Preventive maintenance is critical to controlling ignition sources. The use of vibration detection methods, heat sensitive tape or other heat detection methods can help in the implementation of the program.
  5. Minimize ignition sources through controlling hot work (electric or gas welding, cutting, brazing or similar flame producing operations).
  6. Install wiring and electrical equipment suitable for hazardous locations.
  7. Design and properly locate dust collection systems to minimize explosion hazards. All filter collectors installed after March 1988 shall be located outside the facility or located in an area inside the facility protected by an explosion suppression system or located in an area that is separated from other areas by construction having at least a one hour fire resistance rating and which is located next to an exterior wall vented to the outside.
  8. Install an effective means of removing ferrous material from grain streams so that such material does not enter equipment such as hammer mills, grinders and pulverizers.

For more information, see OSHA standard (29 CFR 1910.272).

DeBruce Grain Elevator Explosion

Significant chapters from the report on the explosion of the DeBruce Grain Elevator that occurred June 8, 1998 Wichita, KS. This report was submitted by the Grain Elevator Explosion Investigation Team (GEEIT) and explains the investigation and cause of the explosion that killed 7 and injured 10 employees.

How can OSHA help?

For other valuable worker protection information, such as Workers' Rights, Employer Responsibilities and other services OSHA offers, read OSHA's Workers page or OSHA's Small Business page.

Saturday, 07 December 2013 18:57

Hand Signals

During my training classes I'm always being asked for the most commonly used hand signals for hoisting operations involving cranes, forklifts or any other material handling equipment.  The following charts come straight from OSHA's 29 CFR 1926 subart CC standards (click "read more" below to view the charts).crane-hand-signals

crane-hand-signals-small

Please keep in mind that whenever "Hoisting Operation" activity is being performed a copy of these charts is required to be posted on the equipment or in the vicinity where these operations are being performed

The American Rental Association (ARA), the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), the Associated Equipment Distributors (AED), the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) and the Scaffold Industry Association (SIA) have joined forces to help develop the document, “Statement of Best Practices of General Training and Familiarization for Aerial Work Platform Equipment.”

The document’s content addresses:

  • Educating the industry on the industry-recognized-and-supported standards, including the American National Standards Institute/Scaffold Industry Association (ANSI/SIA) A92 Standards and OSHA regulations;
  • Presenting best practices and minimum general training guidelines for AWP operators;
  • Emphasizing the differences between general training and familiarization to all parties responsible; and
  • Clarifying minimum qualifications of the trainer.

“All in the industry – rental operators, manufacturers, associations for those entities, educators, regulators, users and operators – are dedicated to the best practices related to the training and safe use of aerial work platform (AWP) equipment,” the document states. “Proper use achieves successful project completion and assures operator safety. This is particularly critical when working with AWP equipment, which offers so much versatility and assistance to those who use it. The priority of all in the industry is to make sure that everyone who owns and operates AWP equipment has a clear understanding of his or her role in the requirements for the safe use of that equipment.”

The 20-page document can be downloaded as a PDF at http://www.ipaf.org/fileadmin/user_upload/documents/us/AWP_BPG_2010.pdf.

Saturday, 07 December 2013 18:50

Forklift Safety for a Better Tomorrow

Powered industrial trucks can either be ridden by the operator or controlled by a walking operator. There are many types of powered industrial trucks. Each type presents different operating hazards. For example, a sit-down, counterbalanced high-lift rider truck is more likely than a motorized hand truck to be involved in a falling load accident because the sit-down rider truck can lift a load much higher than a hand truck.

Workplace type and conditions are also factors in hazards commonly associated with powered industrial trucks. For example, retail establishments often face greater challenges than other worksites in maintaining pedestrian safety. Beyond that, many workers can also be injured when:

  1. Lift trucks are inadvertently driven off loading docks;
  2. Lifts fall between docks and an unsecured trailer;
  3. They are struck by a lift truck; or
  4. They fall while on elevated pallets and tines.

Determining the best way to protect workers from injury largely depends on the type of truck operated and the worksite where it is being used. Employers must ensure that each powered industrial truck operator is competent to operate a powered industrial truck safely, as demonstrated by the successful completion of the training and evaluation specified in 29 CFR 1910.178(l)(1).

This infographic, Forklift Safety for a Better Tomorrow, highlights safety tips and offers advice about the importance of operator and employee training.

forkliftsafety1

Saturday, 07 December 2013 18:49

Forklift training and loading docks

Nearly 100 workers are killed each year in the United States as a result of forklift-related incidents. The situation calls for clear communication to the right person, at the right time, and at exactly the right location — especially at the loading dock where forklifts and pedestrians often are on a collision course. Forklift drivers also need to be aware of what's happening at all times during the fast-paced semi trailer loading and unloading process.

Fortunately, communication-related technologies and best practices have evolved to reduce the risks of forklift-pedestrian collisions and other catastrophic accidents at the loading dock. Now is the time to understand the issues involved and what can be done at the dock to improve communication and increase safety for forklift operators and pedestrians.

TRAVELING FORKLIFTS + PEDESTRIANS = CAUTION

Forklifts traveling when people are nearby creates an inherently dangerous situation. Yet progress has been made to address forklift-pedestrian accidents.

On the employer's side of the issue, many companies have refined their safety polices and procedures concerning forklifts. The call also is out for more forklift operator training. In 2006, OSHA issued 3,080 forklift violations. The majority of citations were issued for inadequate operator training. According to the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety, the second-most common cause of forklift-related fatalities is when a forklift strikes a worker on foot.

Recognizing the seriousness of the issue, OSHA and the Industrial Truck Association formed an alliance in 2004 to promote the safe operation of powered industrial trucks, including forklifts. More emphasis on training also is driven by the fact that employers establish the rules of the road for forklifts, needing only to follow OSHA guidelines.

CHALLENGES AT THE DOCK

One of the most difficult places to operate a forklift is the shipping/receiving/staging area of a loading dock. When combined with the fast-paced nature of most docks, the need to ensure forklift operator and pedestrian safety takes on added importance.

The challenges for forklift operators at the dock range from maneuvering in tight confines to negotiating frequently slippery surfaces. Loading and unloading trailers makes the job even more challenging, especially when multiple forklifts are used simultaneously to service the same trailer. Servicing trailers also requires skill and close concentration. An extra level of focus is essential when production and shipping deadlines dictate a faster-than-normal pace.

For forklift operators, the bottom line is to use caution at all times. From a pedestrian's perspective, the safest course of action is to watch for forklifts. Other forklift drivers who enter the dock staging area when forklifts are already servicing trailers are expected to remain on high alert.

SPECIAL CONCERNS

One of the most pressing issues during trailer loading and unloading is impaired forklift operator and pedestrian vision. A variety of other operating realities at the dock also combine to create special concerns.

A forklift driver's ability to watch for pedestrians is hampered when the forklift moves into the trailer, where it essentially is operating inside a tunnel. The result is a dangerous blind spot that is only diminished when the forklift is fully backed out of the trailer (Illustration No. 1).

Another major concern is the inability of pedestrians and forklifts to see a forklift operating inside a trailer. The problem is worse when a trailer is approached from the side and a forklift is operating inside at the front end of a trailer (Illustration No. 2).

A host of other circumstances influence the safety of forklift operators and pedestrians at the dock. One example is when pedestrians and visitors enter the dock area without the forklift operator's knowledge. It also is not uncommon for pedestrians and visitors to step outside of zones designated for pedestrian travel. Other challenges range from difficulty hearing audible warning devices to the amount of stopping distance needed for a traveling forklift.

CAPITALIZING ON BEST PRACTICES, TECHNOLOGY

Safety at the dock hinges on a company's philosophy toward safety and proper policies and procedures. The key is to enact best practices and put technology to work.

Just a few proven best practices include mandatory forklift operator training, well-posted speed limits and enforcement behind the rules of the road. Safety-conscious companies also incorporate the use of the most basic safety devices, some of which include forklift-mounted mirrors, convex mirrors and traffic control signs.

Many also have capitalized on forklift-pedestrian safety technologies, such as proximity laser scanners to create forklift-safe zones throughout the plant/warehouse. Some opt for motion sensors or infrared systems to alert pedestrians that forklifts are at plant intersections, or when forklifts are approaching from somewhere in the plant.

A growing number of safety-minded companies are looking to next-generation technology to address safety issues specific to the dock. One such technology uses lights and an alarm to communicate the status of forklifts inside the trailer. With the system, forklift drivers and pedestrians know when a forklift is working inside the trailer so they can exercise proper caution against that forklift backing out. The use of lights also can be used to enhance communication of the status of vehicle restraints to the forklift operator, adding another level of protection against potentially catastrophic trailer-separation accident.

MAKING THE RIGHT DECISIONS

As is often the case, the ability to move goods and finished products quickly and efficiently through the supply chain is about effective communication. The same holds true for the loading dock, where the potential for forklift-pedestrian accidents threatens the safety of employees and the productivity of the operation.

Implementing and following through on time-tested safety forklift practices at the dock is wise. Investing in technology that takes communication to the highest possible level will deliver invaluable results.

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