Five Things You Can do to Prevent Workplace Violence

Violence in the workplace often erupts without warning, and can have tragic results. Taking steps to prevent these situations can improve safety in your workplace, improve employee satisfaction and lead to increased productivity. Conversely, ignoring potential hazards can result in employee injury, even death — and legal action at considerable costs to the company.

OSHA has outlined five steps you can take to identify and prevent these violent encounters before they happen. While they are not directly related to materials handling operations, we feel these guidelines can apply to a wide variety of organizations, including your company.

Management Commitment and Employee Participation

As with any initiative, without the commitment of management and leadership, the rank-and-file of the organization will likely ignore any efforts to improve safety with regards to violence. Company leadership must be involved on a regular basis and visibly endorse the effort. This can be achieved by establishing a safety and health committee, and having leadership rotate in and out of meetings conducted by the committee.

Management must articulate a policy and establish goals for the company. Once a plan has been developed, leadership should allocate sufficient resources to accomplish the goals and uphold program performance expectations. Providing resources could entail meetings with health professionals to help identify potential hazards, creating visible signage and using other communication methods to keep workers involved in and aware of the program.

Worksite Analysis and Hazard Identification

There are probably facets of your operation that are prone to producing higher anxiety or tension among your employees. These could be actual physical conditions such as heat, cold, and hazardous areas as well as departments that demand high productivity, or even interaction with the public. Taking stock of these areas and identifying factors that are the least or most likely to create a stressful atmosphere are key to prevention.  Two steps you can take to identify and prevent violence include:

  • Conducting job hazard analysis – Management can conduct surveys of their departments to assess the potential risk of violence among employees. This not only includes internal assessments, but assessments of destinations to which your employees may travel, including specific neighborhoods, time of day, etc. Sites that expose your employees to violent behavior are often outside the walls of your facility.
  • Conduct employee surveys – Employees will often tell you if their jobs create stressful situations for them and if they feel endangered by some of their job tasks. Conduction of reviews on a regular basis will help you identify these areas and create a plan to reduce danger.

Hazard Prevention and Control

Once management has established and articulated its commitment, and evaluations have taken place, a plan to reduce potential hazards must be implemented.  This step includes:

  • Identification and evaluation of control options for workplace hazards
  • Selection of effective and feasible controls to eliminate or reduce hazards
  • Implementation of these controls
  • Follow up to confirm these controls are being used and maintained
  • Evaluate effectiveness and improve, expand or update these controls as needed

Safety and Health Training

As with any program you want to succeed, employees must be trained in order to follow the steps outlined by the company to identify and report these risks and follow up as needed.

This training could include meetings with mental health experts to help identify signs of stress in colleagues that could lead to violence. It also can include training on how to avoid violence outside your facility by taking common-sense actions (such as parking under a street lamp), what to do if an employee feels threatened and even self-defense training. Other training topics can include:

  • The company’s workplace policy on violence prevention
  • Documentation and reporting
  • Location, operation and coverage of safety devices such as alarms
  • Ways to identify and deal with hostile situations
  • A standard response plan for violent situations

Recordkeeping and Program Evaluation

Recordkeeping includes reporting procedures, what gets reported and to whom, and how these records are kept. Keeping track of both “close calls” and actual events helps you identify patterns, areas of particular concern and even certain job functions that might be creating undue stress on employees. It can help you identify areas outside your facility that present a danger to your employees, such as areas of town they serve.

OSHA Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA Form 300) can help you organize information not only for reporting to your proper internal sources but also for reporting to OSHA if necessary. As of January 2015, all employers must report:

  • All work-related fatalities within 8 hours
  • All work-related inpatient hospitalizations, all amputations and all losses of an eye within 24 hours

Injuries sustained as a result of assault must be entered on the log if they meet OSHA’s recording criteria (CFR Part 1904, revised 2014).

Keeping track helps you improve your program, improve employee safety and ensure your employees are operating in a safe and productive work environment.

We hope this summary is helpful to you in establishing your own workplace violence prevention plan. To learn more about what you can do, download the complete “Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence) by OSHA, HERE. While it was prepared for healthcare and social service workers, the overall content of this guide can assist any company, big or small, in achieving a safer work environment for all.

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Five Things Your Forklift Might Tell You if it Could Talk

Talking ForkliftEach day, your forklift bears the brunt of your material handling operation. It works hard for you day after day, rarely complaining about the workload or its surroundings. Occasionally it tells you something is wrong, by breaking down. But waiting for a breakdown is expensive. Repairs are more costly once a breakdown occurs and breakdowns can create dangerous situations at your facility. Have you ever wondered what a forklift might tell you, if it could talk? We did, and came up with the following:

  1. “I’m not getting inspected frequently enough.”  Although OSHA requires pre-shift inspections, few companies require them. Pre-shift inspections ensure that if I get sick, you catch it quickly, before it becomes a dangerous and costly situation. You can find forms to help my operators inspect me on Tri-Lift’s forklift safety training page.
  2. “I think my operators need more training.” They jerk me from forward to reverse, to forward again, putting a strain on my transmission. They don’t slow down at intersections or use my safety features as frequently as they should. My horn is rarely used, I don’t have any strobe lights and I’m afraid I might end up in an accident. I don’t want to get hurt and I sure don’t want to hurt anyone else. I think we need some additional operator training.
  3.  “My co-workers need more attention.” You put all of us on the same service cycles. The other guys work harder, lift more weight, more frequently and need to be seen by your forklift service pros more often. Give them a call.
  4. “My feet hurt.” These tires are old, they have chunks missing, they’re worn and at the end of the day, I can’t wait to stop and give them a break. Worn and damaged tires use more fuel, make my operator more fatigued and create a dangerous work environment. When’s the last time you inspected my tires carefully?
  5. “I’m shocked at how my electric friends are being treated.” I run on gas, but my electric friends are always complaining about their batteries, that the water levels aren’t inspected enough and they get hot all too often. They also complain about how they get charged at weird times and it doesn’t feel good. Maybe you should talk to their operators about how they use their electric forklifts. I’m told forklift batteries are really expensive and making them last as long as possible is best for everyone.

Have you ever wondered what else your forklifts might tell you, if they could talk? Our team of service professionals can share their experience with you to determine the best plan to keep all your forklifts operating at peak efficiency and productivity. Happy and healthy forklifts are more productive and safer for those on them, and around them. Contact us to speak to a service professional today. Next time you talk to your forklift, you’ll get nothing but “thank you’s” and compliments!


10 Things You Can do to Celebrate Forklift Safety Day

Forklift Safety Day 2015

The Industrial Truck Association has announced it’s second annual Forklift Safety Day, to be held June Tuesday, June 9. You can register to attend the event, held in Washington, DC. While most of you won’t be able to attend, there are things you can do to take advantage of this day to help create awareness about the dangers that forklifts present and how to minimize the potential for accidents that can result in injury or death, damage to your facility, equipment and financial losses. We’ve compiled a short list of things you can do on June 9th to improve safety on and around your forklifts.

  1. Make sure all your forklift operators have been trained and that their refresher training is up to date, if applicable or necessary.
  2. Take time to teach your forklift operators the importance of daily inspections of their forklifts. Daily inspections reduce the risk of equipment failure and catch small problems before they blossom into giant ones. You can download daily forklift inspection sheets for both IC forklifts and electric forklifts.
  3. Download and post our free forklift safety posters for:
    1. Pedestrian Notification
    2. Notice that Forklifts are in Operation
    3. That Only Trained Employees May Operate Forklifts
  4. Take some time to gather any staff that operates around forklifts, but not on them, to refresh them about the dangers of this equipment and how to be sure to use safe procedures when they are in an area of your facility where forklifts are being operated.
  5. Make sure all your forklift’s maintenance is up to date. If you have a Planned Maintenance Agreement, this would be a good time to review it with your service provider to ensure all standard checkpoints as well as unique equipment attachments are being inspected and maintained properly.
  6. Review any unique “site specific” features your facility may have and be sure your operators are aware of proper handling of equipment while on or around these features (ramps, areas where floors can be slick, floor substrates that vary etc…)
  7. Make sure that training is part of your company’s orientation for anyone that will or MIGHT operate a forklift. Remember, employees that have not been properly trained aren’t even allowed to sit on and start a forklift, much less move it out of the way of anything.
  8. Make sure you forklifts have proper safety equipment and that it’s operating properly. Lights, horns, back-up alarms, seat belts, fire extinguishers etc… Improve pedestrian safety, check out our Blue Spot Safety Light by Linde.
  9. Make sure you have lock-out kits to ensure that forklifts that do not pass an inspection are locked out immediately until repairs are made.
  10. Review all your forklifts for possible replacement. Old forklifts, or those that are getting “up there” in hours, might be potential threats. Review safety records and maintenance logs for your equipment. You might find this could be a good time to replace some or even all of your forklifts.-

Our goal is to help you operate safe, efficient and productive forklift equipment. To discuss forklift safety, operator training –or to get a quote on new equipment, please give us a call at 866-393-9833.


3 Tips to Forklift Fleet Maintenance Optimization

In recent forklift fleet maintenance and management articles, we have discussed the benefits of properly maintaining your equipment. There is no doubt that companies that engage in robust and comprehensive equipment maintenance save money in the long run and improve the efficiency of their forklift fleets.

Establishing a program that proactively maintains your equipment to maximize productivity takes just a bit of work. But with the right partner by your side, the process can be much easier to set up and manage. Following are three tips we suggest in order to establish programs that maximize productivity and reduce your overall costs.

Fleet Analysis

We observe, most of the time, that all equipment in your facility are not utilized the same way or under the same conditions. Some equipment might sit idle for a few hours each day and lift/transport far less overall weight. We suggest not only analyzing the hours each piece of equipment is used, but also how it is used. A piece of equipment used outdoors will required more attention than the same piece of equipment used indoors in a warehouse setting. Using both quantitative and qualitative information will help you develop a service plan that treats each piece of equipment uniquely and provides for the proper level of maintenance.

Quantitative Information – This would include the number of hours used each year, the average weight of each load hauled, service history, equipment age and any other quantitative information available through any type of fleet management software you may use.

Qualitative Information – This information is usually observation-oriented and includes the type of conditions under which each forklift operates, and the training or experience level of the operator. This observation would also include the types of loads each piece of equipment hauls. Hauling seafood off the dock versus processing retail-ready seafood, for example, will result in two very different wear-and-tear scenarios.

Daily Inspections

Although they are required by OSHA, we have found that most companies do not perform pre-shift inspections.  And we can’t tell you how many times we’ve gotten a call from a customer who has had to lock out a unit as a result of a pre-shift inspection because the unit is not fit for operation.

Pre-shift inspections will results in catching small maintenance issues before they blossom into giant repair headaches and dangerous scenarios.  Performing inspections also reduces your liability should an accident occur during a shift. Being able to provide a recent and thorough inspection prior to operating the equipment will help your cause dramatically, should litigation occur.

You can find pre-shift inspection forms on our website HERE.

Partner Selection

Having a service partner who has the experience, skills and trained repair staff to work with you is a major key to a successful program. Not all service providers are created equal; selecting one based on price could result in spending more without reaping the benefits. Instead, select a partner that has demonstrated to you that they understand your equipment, your operation and have the trained staff to execute your service plan. Doing so will give you the desired outcome for your operation. To help ascertain the ability of your potential service partner, inquire about the following:

  • Training that the service technicians receive (formal and informal)
  • Experience level of service staff (including technicians)
  • Level of experience in servicing your type of equipment
  • References from other clients that utilized similar equipment under similar operating conditions
  • Visit their facility to see how it operates. You can pick up pretty quickly whether the facility is organized and professionally represented.

Taking the time to establish a comprehensive service program takes a bit more work up-front, but in the long run it pays for itself many times over. To discuss your service program with our trained staff of service professionals, please contact us, or call us at 866-393-9833.


The Costs of Not Protecting the Workforce: A New Report from OSHA

Cost of Workplace InjuriesA new report generated by OSHA highlights the real costs associated with on the job injuries, who pays them and how this impacts the employee and taxpayers.

Whether an employee is working on a high-rise building or driving a forklift, employers have the responsibility, and what we feel is an obligation to protect their employees from injury. By investing in training and safety, employers get fewer injuries, lower costs, more productivity and an improved satisfaction which often leads to less turn over. But all companies do not feel that way. Many are finding ways to avoid responsibility for providing safe working conditions for their most dangerous jobs.

The report highlights what some companies do to avoid responsibility and what this does to not only the employee, but his/her family and taxpayers when an accident with injury occurs. Shifting the financial burden however does not make it go away. It shifts it to over-burdened worker’s compensation and government systems. In addition, a worker who is injured can expect to make an average of 15% less income after the injury. And while the creating of OSHA in 1970 by President Nixon has greatly reduced on the job accidents, injuries and deaths dramatically, we still have approximately 4,500 deaths every year due to workplace accidents.

As a full-service forklift dealership, safety is one of our most important topics. Forklifts are dangerous pieces of equipment for the operator and anyone working around the forklift. Forklift Operator Training and Pedestrian Training is not only the law, it is our obligation to those that operate forklifts. While manufacturers work hard to innovate and make them safer, nothing can replace a well trained and cautious operator.

We have posted the Executive Summary of the report on our website and feel it is certainly worth a read. The full report can be found HERE.


Three Essentials of Effective Training

Training is one of the most important functions of any manager. From top to the bottom levels of an organization, employees that are well-trained to do their jobs perform them better, are more efficient and make greater contributions to the bottom line of the organization. When we discuss forklift operator training with our clients there are three essentials they must commit to in order to take full advantage of the training we provide. This of course transcends forklift operator training and could apply to training in about any other function within your organization.

Planning – Setting out on any quest, whether it’s comprehensive training or how your department will function, doing so without a plan, even a simple one will leave you wandering in the wilderness, drifting from one program to another, no sure if what you’re doing contributes or detracts from your quest.

Put together a plan, including what you want to accomplish, the steps it will take to get there and what you will do to maintain the levels of training you provide as well as what you will do to take it to each “next level” once you have attained your planned levels of training.

Time – Nothing happens overnight, there is no magic elixir for time and practice committed to your plan. You can expand or contract the time it takes based upon your level and amount of training provided to do the job. Time can be your commitment personally or the time commitment of external or outsourced training. Either way, it takes time with the trainer, then time practicing the skills by the employee to hone them to an efficient and effective state. We have addressed how people learn in our Feature Article “Training vs. Teaching; Knowing the Differences.”

Resources – Time is one of your most valuable resources in any organization and we have addressed the need for that above. But you must also provide the resources for effective training. This can include time with a skilled trainer, a location to provide and practice the skills, equipment needed to learn and practice on as well as materials needed to support the training efforts.

Providing comprehensive ongoing training is an investment in your employees, your organization, and your bottom line performance. The results are usually commensurate with the levels of each of the three essentials we’ve listed and it is rare that results oppose the efforts. Invest in your bottom line with complete and professional training and watch the results, over time, compound for your company.


Tri-Lift NC Inc. Awarded New Territory by Linde Material Handling

Greensboro, NC, January 9, 2015– Tri-Lift NC Inc. has been just been announced the authorized full line dealership for Linde Material Handling Products in all of North Carolina and 23 counties in South Carolina.

We are very pleased with the announcement and proud to represent such a quality, world-class brand of products in our entire market. We appreciate the confidence that Linde has placed in all of our associates to represent the Linde brand and look forward to a great deal of success for both of our companies. Bob Bond, President, Tri-Lift NC Inc.

Tri-Lift NC Inc. has been representing Linde Material Handling products as the authorized dealership in a portion of North Carolina for over two years. Due to the professional commitment and customer focus demonstrated by the dealership and all of its associates, Linde has expanded Tri-Lift NC’s territory as the authorized full line Linde Material Handling dealer. These additional responsibilities for Linde fit well with Tri-Lift NC’s plans for future growth.

Linde Material Handling, part of the Kion Group, U.S. Headquarters is located at their Summerville, South Carolina manufacturing facility. Linde produces a full line of quality forklifts and material handling equipment.

Tri-Lift NC Inc., based in Greensboro, North Carolina is a full service material handling company with branches in Greensboro, Raleigh, Charlotte, North Carolina and Roanoke, Virginia.

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Robert Bond at 336-691-1511 or email at rbond@tri-liftnc.com.