Have you inspected your forklift lately?

By Cari Gray, BWC Industrial Safety Consultant Specialist

Every day at many work locations, powered industrial trucks (aka forklifts) are sadly being neglected and unloved. Sounds extreme, but it’s true.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard states, “Industrial trucks shall be examined before being placed in service … Such examination shall be made at least daily.” OSHA continues, “where industrial trucks are used on a round-the-clock basis, they shall be examined after each shift.”

So, let’s break down when and what to inspect, and who should do it.

First and foremost – inspections MUST be done.

Inspections need to be done when you put a powered industrial truck (let’s call them forklifts from here on out) in service.

This means inspecting new forklifts and those that have been sitting around unused more than one day. Beyond that, if you use a forklift more than one shift in any given day – you need to inspect it at least after each shift.

OK, so now that’s a little clearer and we know when to inspect – let’s talk about WHO must inspect. Often the forklift operators are the inspectors – and that’s perfectly acceptable. It makes sense for the person who is most impacted to do the inspection. However, sometimes a supervisor or a maintenance employee does the inspection., That’s fine, too. Just make sure the inspector is trained, the inspection’s getting done and it’s getting done right.

Now, let’s cover WHAT we should inspect for. First things first – you need to make sure you are inspecting anything the manufacturer recommends. Yup, you’ve got it – that means you need the manual for the equipment. I know, I know, you have a really old forklift, or maybe you bought it used from an auction … who has the manual? Well, you should.I If you don’t have it, you need to find it – look online, contact the manufacturer or a dealer … but find it. Once you have it, I suggest making a copy and squirrelling away the original so you don’t have to go through this again.

After you use the manufacturer recommendations, you need to consider things that OSHA details out for training. You’ve got it right – OSHA does not give a list of what should be inspected, however it does list mechanical things you need to train your folks on … so it makes sense to inspect for those things. These include:

  • Safety guards.
  • Batteries or fuel systems.
  • Steering systems and wheels.
  • Load backrest extensions.
  • Brakes, horn and lights (if present).

Additionally, you should look at housekeeping – seriously housekeeping on a forklift! Your truck should be kept “clean, free of lint, excess oil and grease.” Now, I’m not expecting the equipment to be clean enough to eat off, but it should not look like a pig sty. You should also include any other safety and operational items that you and your company deem inspection-worthy.

I recommend you create your own checklist to include all these things. You can find dozens of samples online, but don’t just use one without carefully looking at it.  You can update and customize this checklist as needed, it’s yours … so make it look like it!

The OSHA standard also says you need to train your employees on “any vehicle inspection and maintenance that the operator will be required to perform.” Bottom line, if your forklift operators are doing the inspections, they need to know how to do them. A great way to train them is to go out and do the inspection as an exercise during the operator training on a real-life forklift. You can also use this YouTube video that we created (I helped) to aid in the training of forklift inspection.

The last item to keep in mind about forklift inspections is: if you find something unsafe, you DO something about it. OSHA 1910.178(p)(1) says: “If at any time a powered industrial truck is found to be in need of repair, defective, or in any way unsafe, the truck shall be taken out of service until it has been restored to safe operating condition.” Don’t ignore unsafe conditions you discover on a forklift. I know, you need to get the job done, but if you have an incident because your forklift is unsafe, it will take a lot longer to do the job and you may hurt someone. That’s not worth it!

The last thought I will leave you with is, consider the dreaded concern of “pencil whipping.” I know you would never do it – but sometimes the importance of an inspection is forgotten and in our rush – we grab the inspection sheet and check off it’s “all good” without even looking at the equipment. If you are the inspector and you are reading this: DON’T DO THAT – that’s silly. If you administer the inspection program, don’t allow others to take shortcuts either.

You can do things to prevent accidents – do spot checks, ask questions and double check. Make forklift inspections a priority!

Ag safety means a continuous focus on doing the right things

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

Today through Thursday, our Division of Safety & Hygiene will once again have a presence at the Farm Science Review.

For the third straight year, we’ll have a booth at this annual event hosted by The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Preparing for the event reminded us of a series of articles about safety in the agricultural industry published by Ohio’s Country Journal earlier this year.

The articles (links below) focused on topics ranging from using injury data to prevent future accidents, to the development of an innovative hog loader and to creating a culture of safety in an agricultural workplace.

“I was struck by an underlying theme throughout these articles: that having a safe and healthful work environment requires a continuous, consistent and unrelenting emphasis on doing the right things,” says Bernie Silkowski, director of loss prevention operations with our Division of Safety & Hygiene.

He says this includes management setting the tone by:

  • Assessing the workplace for hazards.
  • Establishing and reinforcing safety procedures and expectations.
  • Providing training and making sure everyone understands and applies it.
  • Seeking employee input about safety issues.
  • Providing the right tools, equipment and PPE to enable everyone to perform their tasks safely.

At the same time, it’s also about employees:

  • Adhering to safe work procedures and not taking shortcuts.
  • Continuously assessing the hazards while performing their work.
  • Pausing to reassess when things aren’t going according to plan.
  • Wearing PPE properly.
  • Approaching a fellow employee who is taking a risk.

“All of these things have to exist all the time for a workplace to be considered high performing in safety and health,” Silkowski adds.

These articles mention a lot of things that high-performing safety organizations do, often with little or no cost. Starting every meeting with a short safety topic costs nothing and keeps everyone’s mind on safety. Requiring hearing protection around loud machinery costs little and helps prevent hearing loss which can take years to develop. Finally, the cost of guarding moving parts on machinery is nothing compared to the costs and disability that can result if an arm becomes caught inside.

The most effective way for an organization to get started on its safety journey – or to see how it’s doing on its own – is to bring in a third party to do a safety assessment and help develop a safety process that works for the employer. Our safety consultants provide this service as part of the premium employers pay to BWC.

We’re here to help protect Ohioans in the agriculture industry. If you’re going to the Farm Science Review this week, stop by exhibit building 2, booth 32 to learn more about how we can help make your farm or business an even safer workplace.

Ohio’s Country Journal articles

Time’s running out to apply for our Safety Innovation Awards!

Attention Ohio employers! The application deadline for the 2018 Safety Innovation Awards is just around the corner. To spotlight innovative Ohio employers and their ingenuity, we’re once again seeking entries for our Safety Innovation Award Program.

This annual program awards cash prizes from $1,000 to $6,000 to employers that develop innovative solutions to reduce the risk of workplace injuries and illnesses to their employees.

Public and private employers may apply online on our website by Sept. 30.

Finalists will attend Ohio Safety Congress & Expo 2019 (OSC19) in Columbus on March 6-8, 2019, to present their innovations to a judges’ panel and the public.

OSC19 attendees will determine the recipient of The People’s Choice award. We will present the awards during a ceremony at Safety Congress. Learn more about last year’s winners in the video below.

In addition to cash prizes, finalists and their innovations are:

  • Spotlighted in the Safety Congress event guide seen by thousands of attendees.
  • Featured in an area entirely dedicated to them in the Expo Marketplace at OSC19.
  • Honored in a ceremony at Safety Congress.

We can’t wait to see the ingenious and creative innovation you’ve developed to keep your workers safer and healthier on the job. Apply today!

If you have any questions about the program, email bwcsafetyinnovations@bwc.state.oh.us or call us at 1-800-644-6292.

Disasters happen. Are you ready?

By Jodi Lombardo, BWC Employee Safety & Health Administration Manager

Disasters happen. Prepare now. Learn how.

Those three sentences form the theme for this year’s National Preparedness Month.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency sponsors National Preparedness Month each September. Its goal is to encourage Americans to take steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses, schools and communities.

This month is a great time to learn how to use a fire extinguisher (every home should have one!) and how to keep safe in severe weather.

And it’s always a great time to take a course in lifesaving CPR/AED or trauma first aid. We at BWC offer this training to our own employees.

With the right planning and skills, you’re one of the people your co-workers and loved ones will turn to when disaster strikes. You’ll be instrumental in saving lives in an emergency before first responders can arrive.

This year’s weekly themes are below. Please take some time to review the information contained in each link.

Visit ready.gov or more information on National Preparedness Month.

Restaurant safety: It’s not just about food safety

By Ben Hissam, BWC Industrial Safety Consultant

Having worked in restaurants as a chef or chef manager for more than 10 years, I have seen first-hand the hazards of the industry.

I remember the long hours, usually working six nights a week. It is a demanding job that you have to really love, getting satisfaction from making people happy through your work.

When I came to BWC, I decided to help develop the restaurant safety class because of my industry experience. My days in the kitchen gave me insights into restaurant operations in the front and back of the house.

I remember starting in the restaurant industry, when everything was made from scratch. This often included hand cutting vegetables and salads, meats, potatoes and more. Prep work was, and still is, a large part of the job. Ergonomic-related injuries – including repetitive hand motions, prolonged standing, lifting produce cases, etc. – are some of the most common injuries in the business.

Other common hazards include cuts, burns, and slips, trips and falls. Unlike the imminent danger hazards in construction and manufacturing, hazards in restaurants tend toward first-aid types of injuries. Rarer are reportable injuries such as amputations or fatalities from entanglement in a large industrial mixer or buffalo chopper, which are more likely in food processing than in a restaurant.

The restaurant industry is partially exempt from Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recordkeeping requirements. People attending the restaurant safety courses I teach say they are often more concerned with health department inspections.

Restaurant staff usually attend food safety classes, like servsafe, that focus on the safety of food prep and storage, areas the health department regulates. However, it’s also important they not overlook the standards that OSHA regulates in the restaurant industry, including:

  • Hazard communication – exposure to corrosive sanitation and cleaning chemicals.
  • Walking working surfaces – slippery or cluttered floors.
  • Machine guarding – powered equipment, slicers, mixers, etc.
  • Lock out – cord and plug control single point lock out.
  • Personal protective equipment – slip-resistant shoes, cut-resistant gloves, thermal protection etc.
  • Emergency action plans – one-way exit discharge blocked by trash staging in back of house.
  • Electrical – ground-fault circuit interrupter protection where conductive services are located.

Other hazards restaurants should address include awkward lifting and bending, and workplace violence, such as robbery or fights among employees.

We offer classroom and online courses to help restaurants address hazards and develop comprehensive safety plans to protect their workers. You can learn more or register online. I hope to see you in class!

Back-to-school safety tips for drivers as distracted pedestrian numbers rise

By Michelle Francisco, BWC Safety Council Program Manager

It’s back-to-school time and that means you’ll probably find yourself driving through busy school zones a lot more often. It’s important to keep in mind the dangers these congested areas pose for both pedestrians and drivers and to prepare accordingly.

There were nearly 6,000 pedestrian fatalities in the United States in 2017, marking the second year in a row at numbers not seen in 25 years, according to a Governors Highway Safety Association report. One trend that may attribute to the rise is the growing use of smartphones, and distracted driving, walking or cycling as a result.

When you’re behind the wheel and in a school zone, or in an area with children walking and biking to school, follow these five simple tips to keep yourself and those around you safe.

  • Be extra watchful at intersections. Not paying attention to traffic signals, such as flashing school zone or crossing signals, is a major area of concern when it comes to pedestrian safety and distractions.
  • Always come to a full stop at stop signs and crosswalk warning signs and be sure to look both ways before pulling through. Remember, pedestrians have the right away, so beware of individuals crossing at the last second.
  • Be ready for jaywalkers. People don’t always use crosswalks and you need to be ready to react if someone steps off the sidewalk, especially if they are distracted.
  • If you see a bicyclist with headphones, exercise caution. They may not be able to properly hear what’s going on around them, including oncoming traffic.
  • While driving, don’t engage in distractions yourself. Put your phone away, refrain from playing with the radio and avoid doing anything that takes your attention off the road. In order to drive defensively, you must remain alert at all times.

For more driving-related safety tips from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, as well as advice on preventing slips, trips, falls and overexertion this fall, visit BeSafeOhio.com.

Our “safety things we did this summer” report

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

Kids will soon be going back to school and writing essays about the things they did this summer. It’s a fun way for them to recap some of the highlights of those long summer days before jumping into the grind of the new school year. We thought we’d do the same in this post!

We’ll start with the past few weeks and our time at the Ohio State Fair. For the second year in a row, we had a booth in the Bricker Marketplace to highlight safety at work and at home. We got the message out about our Be Safe Ohio campaign to thousands of fairgoers in the booth and with our sponsorship of the iconic Sky Glider. We even handed out bottles of water and Beat the Heat cards to attendees as they were leaving the fair on one of the days.

Fairgoers of all ages were excited to stop by our booth to try their hand at Safety Plinko. Children were especially eager to play for safety prizes, including fans, earplugs and the always popular colorful safety glasses. In less than two weeks, our representatives handed out hundreds of informational pamphlets and thousands of safety giveaways to everyone from preschoolers to grandparents.

Once again, the state fair was a great opportunity for us to reach the public and educate Ohioans on ways to protect themselves on and off the clock.

Safety Day at the Zoo
Earlier this summer, we participated in Safety Day at the Zoo at the Cleveland Metro Parks Zoo. The event – organized by the Greater Cleveland Safety Council – gave us the chance to get our message of safety and wellness out to zoo visitors. It was a picture-perfect day and we got to interact with hundreds of parents and children, giving them tips on staying safe and healthy.

Trench Safety Stand-Down
In late June, we hosted or participated in several trenching safety training events in conjunction with the National Utility Contractors Association’s 2018 Trench Safety Stand-Down. This included training events in Erie County, Toledo, Cincinnati and Summit County.

The Summit County event provided classroom training followed up with a review of the information covered in the class while conducting digging of a trench and installing a trench box.

National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls
We kicked off the summer with training opportunities during the National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in May. Our fall prevention training included events at:

  • Our Ohio Center for Occupational Safety and Health in Pickerington.
  • At Boak & Sons in the Youngstown area.
  • Our Garfield Heights Customer Service Office.

Events like these are critical for stemming the tide of falls in the workplace. Nearly 30 percent of all claims filed with BWC are from fall injuries, and falls in Ohio result in an average of 14 fatalities a year.

Thanks to everyone who attended our trainings or who stopped by to see us at various stops this summer. We got a lot out of these interactions and we hope you did too!