Newly released figures from OSHA paint a dark picture of the state of forklift safety. The number of violations increased in 2014 compared to the year before, landing forklifts in sixth place on OSHA’s top 10 list of safety offenders.
For all the talk of increased awareness, forklifts accumulated 3,340 violations last year, beaten only in frequency by issues related to fall protection, hazard communication, scaffolding, respiratory protection, and electrical wiring methods.
If your current efforts to keep your employees and equipment safe are falling short, do not underestimate what technology, and especially real-time monitoring, can do to help you dramatically improve your safety record. Take a look at the following five examples where technology has proven to have a big impact:
1. Stopping unauthorized driving: Even the most rigorous forklift training regimen will have limited impact on safety in your warehouse or distribution center if you cannot control which drivers are able to access which vehicles. Unauthorized driving may be strictly prohibited but without the right tools to prevent it someone can still make a poor spur-of-the-moment decision.
With the help of iButtons, barcodes, and proximity cards, you effectively eliminate unauthorized driving. The identity of each driver is also known to management since drivers need to use their ID badge to gain access to the forklift.
2. Ensuring OSHA compliance: Manually addressing OSHA’s long list of important safety checks leaves your operation vulnerable to human error. If the operator enters incorrect information or skips some checks, any issues will take longer to rectify and may not even turn up until an OSHA audit. Safety violations also may not be reported immediately, increasing the risk of an accident occurring and a noncompliant vehicle remaining in use.
A wireless monitoring system such as EquipManager, however, ensures OSHA compliance by providing pre-shift safety checklists for all authorized operators as well as automatic alerts regarding training and maintenance needs.
3. Improving driving habits: The importance of proper training cannot be understated, but even the best-trained drivers commit errors when left to their own devices. Without the means to properly monitor every vehicle many minor impacts go undetected and the opportunity to make changes before it leads to a more serious event is lost.
An impact monitoring system like EquipManager sends an e-mail to the administrator in real time as soon as there is an impact above the predetermined G force threshold. This allows managers to immediately speak to the operator involved rather than wait until after the shift or even weeks later when the context of the incident is forgotten. Immediate feedback fosters behavioral change as do the audible alarm that alerts the driver that an impact has occurred. In summary, drivers who know they will be held accountable make safer and better choices.
4. Increasing visibility: Real-time monitoring and control need to play a central role in improving both safety and efficiency, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Without such tools, you are forced to rely on drivers to report any impacts and safety violations. In short, you are operating in the dark.
Systems such as ImpactManager ID provide complete transparency, transmitting detailed data on each impact such as location, time, and the identity of the driver. Real-time monitoring equals real-time visibility.
5. Reducing impacts and equipment damage: Add reasons 1-4 together and you get a significant reduction in impacts and equipment damage.
Spokane Industries is one of many companies that have deployed solutions such as ImpactManager RF and EquipCommand to combat forklift impacts. In Spokane’s case, impact-related damage to leased vehicles fell by 90 percent or $36K.
As OSHA’s statistics show, conventional methods are not enough to make a significant dent in the collision statistics. The track record of real-time monitoring, on the other hand, proves it can help you take control of an out-of-control situation.