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Forklift safety: How technology ensures regulations compliance

Posted by Phil Van Wormer on Jul 2, 2014 1:33:47 PM

This is the final post in a series on forklift safety.

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The law requires all forklift operators to be certified. Equally important is the required daily inspection of the forklift to ensure it meets the safety standards of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Still, forklifts are routinely cited as a top 10 offender of OSHA’s regulations. Last year, forklifts ranked sixth with more than 3,200 violations, beaten only in frequency by issues surrounding fall protection, hazard communication, scaffolding, respiratory protection, and electrical wiring methods.

Any forklift training program must include a section on vehicle inspection and maintenance. Making sure there are no defects or safety concerns is obviously a fundamental step in reducing the risk of an accident. But a large number of forklift operators are either not aware of this requirement or have no choice but to fill out the safety checklists by hand. Although skipping the inspection altogether is a worse offense, manually addressing OSHA’s long list of important safety checks is a problem for several reasons:

  • The risk of mistakes increases with paper-based reporting. If the operator enters incorrect information or skips some checks, any issues will take longer to rectify and leaves the company vulnerable during an OSHA audit.
  • Safety violations may not be reported immediately. The more time that passes before an administrator reviews the paperwork, the greater the risk of an accident occurring.
  • A noncompliant vehicle remains in use. Since the checklist is not connected to a wireless reporting network, maintenance may never be notified, increasing the risk it could keep operating even after defects have been detected.

With lives potentially at stake - around 100 people die each year as a result of forklift impacts - consider the use of forklift safety solutions to effectively eliminate the risks listed above. By applying a wireless monitoring system such as EquipManager, OSHA compliance is ensured.

The customizable and intuitive interface of EquipManager provides pre-shift safety checklists for all authorized operators as well as automatic alerts regarding training and maintenance needs. Safety consequently improves as there is never a question about expired certifications or lagging upkeep of the forklift fleet. An optimal maintenance schedule, in turn, helps managers make the most efficient use of the equipment, reducing downtime and optimizing productivity.  

A specialty chemicals company with a manufacturing facility in Newark, DE, also realized additional benefits by using EquipManager. Initially installed to take control of escalating repair costs as a result of forklift impacts, the company decided to upgrade the EquipManager to include multi-lingual safety checklists, a welcome feature among its diverse workforce. The initiative not only cut paper waste and improved OSHA compliance, it also reduced the administrative costs of manually processing the safety checklists.

Added together, the company saved $32,000 in maintenance costs over six months, paying for the system twice over.

For any company wishing to put safety first, wireless reporting and automatic safety checklists make sense.

Topics: Forklift safety, Equipmanager, OSHA compliance