OSHA Increasing Fines for First Time in Decades

On November 3rd it was announced that OSHA would increase penalties for the first time since 1990. The new provision is entitled the “Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015.”

This law compensates for the “freeze” on financial penalty increases that had been in place for the last 25 years. The Agreement allows OSHA to make a one-time “catch-up” increase to compensate for the more than two decades of no increases. The catch-up increase can’t exceed the inflation rate from 1990 through 2015 as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which will be about 82%.

Assuming OSHA applies the maximum catch-up increase allowed, the current maximum $70,000 fine for a Repeat and Willful violation would grow to as much as $125,000 each. The new act does include a potential exception to the increases. OSHA is allowed to forego following the  guidelines if “increasing the civil monetary penalty by the otherwise required amount will have a negative economic impact [on America]” or “the social costs of increasing the civil monetary penalty by the otherwise required amount outweigh the benefits.” This language gives OSHA considerable latitude to apply these fines as they see fit. After this one-time catch-up increase, OSHA will use inflation rate as a guide for future increases.

Employers may have several months to anticipate these higher penalties, but action on safety should begin immediately. Ensuring your forklift fleet is being properly maintained by service professionals and that all your forklift operators have current training on the equipment they operate, in the facility they operate them in, will keep you protected from these fines.

As we have discussed in previous articles forklift operator training and forklift maintenance have benefits that go beyond avoiding expensive penalties.  Workplace safety protects workers, improves morale and can actually help the bottom line profits for all workplaces. Rather than just treating safety as an expense, management should work to develop a business plan to achieve safety goals, avoid fines, and reduce insurance expense and lost time.

Visit our Forklift Operator Training page and learn more about our Planned Maintenance Program to ensure your fleet, and operators are safe and productive. Then contact us at 866-393-9833 for a quote to proving ongoing training and maintenance to ensure they both stay within safe operating parameters.

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OSHA’s 2015 Top Ten Citations Announced

osha logoThe Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced the preliminary Top 10 most frequently cited workplace safety violations for fiscal year 2015. Patrick Kapust, deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs, presented the Top 10 on the Expo floor as part of the 2015 NSC Congress & Expo, the world’s largest gathering of safety professionals.

“In injury prevention, we go where the data tell us to go,” said National Safety Council President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman. “The OSHA Top 10 list is a roadmap that identifies the hazards you want to avoid on the journey to safety excellence.”

The Top 10 for FY 2015* are:

  1. Fall Protection (1926.501) – 6,721
  2. Hazard Communication (1910.1200) – 5,192
  3. Scaffolding (1926.451) – 4,295
  4. Respiratory Protection (1910.134) – 3,305
  5. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147) – 3,002
  6. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178) – 2,760
  7. Ladders (1926.1053) – 2,489
  8. Electrical – Wiring Methods (1910.305) – 2,404
  9. Machine Guarding (1910.212) – 2,295
  10. Electrical – General Requirements (1910.303) – 1,973

As you can see, forklifts and lift equipment is high on OSHA’s lists of citations. One way to avoid citations pertaining to your forklift fleet is to ensure you’re following OSHA’s regulations regarding powered industrial trucks (lift trucks), that your fleet is being properly and regularly maintained and that your forklift operators have received adequate training, and that the training is up-to-date.

If you’re unsure of your fleet’s condition or your operator’s training status, contact us at 866-393-9833 and we will help you ensure you do not end up on OSHA’s list of citations!


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!


A Better Reason to Inspect Forklifts than, “It’s the Law”

Although OSHA requires a pre-shift operational inspection of each piece of forklift equipment, we have found that many companies do not perform them. This practice exposes companies to fines should an OSHA inspection take place. It also puts your company at risk of liability should an accident take place due to a faulty piece of equipment. These two reasons alone should cause most to re-think their pre-shift inspection policy. We suggest a third, very important reason to conduct pre-shift inspections. Catching small maintenance issues is far more cost effective than letting them blossom into giant repair headaches.

Now, don’t get us wrong. We won’t turn down big shop jobs that cost thousands of dollars and were more than ready to perform them for anyone that contacts us. The facts are we have heard many times form clients who conduct regular inspections about damaged hydraulic hoses, tires about to come apart, loose fan belts…and other things that are not reported until a failure occurs. As it often can be when these major failures occur we end up picking your truck up and bringing it back to your shop instead of making the smaller repair at your facility that led to a much more expensive failure.

Like any preventative measures, inspections take a little time, but can pay off big in the long run. For more information on pre-shift inspections please visit the OSHA Powered Industrial Truck website. If you need a pre-shift inspection form you can get it free. Click here for Electric Truck Pre-Shift Inspection Form and here for IC Truck Pre-Shift Inspection Form. And remember, if you find anything not operating properly follow OSHA’s requirement by locking the truck out of service and reporting it to maintenance or call us for service at 866-393-9733.


ITA Announces First Annual Forklift Safety Day

Industrial Truck Association's First Annual Event

                             Industrial Truck Association’s First Annual Event

National Forklift Safety Day, sponsored by the Industrial Truck Association, will serve as a focal point for manufacturers to highlight the safe use of forklifts and importance of operator training. This day provides an opportunity for the industry to educate customers, policymakers and the administration on forklift operating safety practices.

This day, designated by the ITA as the first of its kind is a great opportunity to not only review safe forklift operation with your drivers, but to anyone that comes to your facility, including customers, vendors, friends and/or family. We sometimes forget that forklift safety extends far beyond safe operation of a lift truck and that anyone that might be in the vicinity of one at your facility, or anywhere in the world, needs to know how dangerous a forklift can be, and to be aware at all times.

OSHA enforces regulations regarding the manufacture and operation of industrial trucks. The Industrial Truck Standards Development Foundation (ITSDF), which is accredited by ANSI, and UL (Underwriters Laboratories Inc.) develop the safety standards for designing and manufacturing industrial trucks. National Forklift Safety Day will provide greater awareness of safe practices and in turn encourage safer behavior. Click Here to learn more about the event. Learn more about our forklift operator safety training programs.


Why Daily Forklift Inspections Improve Your Bottom Line

We’ve addressed proper inspection techniques in this Feature Article some time ago. We even have Inspection Form free to download HERE, copy and use/distribute as needed, to help you perform complete inspections. We even have a VIDEO to help you train your drivers visual how to inspect a forklift before each shift. Beyond the obvious employee safety aspects of having operators thoroughly, what other benefits does your business gain?

Fewer accidents means less down time. Down time equals reduced productivity, which reduces your effectiveness, increases your costs and impacts your bottom line.

Less damage to product, equipment and facility. Forklifts and lift equipment are kept in better working order, less product has to be returned, repaired or tossed out, and your facility needs fewer repairs. All of this equals a healthier bottom line.

Lower worker’s comp and general insurance costs. A business with fewer accidents will generally pay less insurance costs, and certainly lower worker’s comp. insurance.

Improved productivity. Operators that understand how the equipment works, doesn’t work and knows your facilities strengths and weaknesses are more productive employees. Improved productivity equals an improved bottom line.

Increased useful life of your lift equipment. This is a great benefit often overlooked. Just like your car or anything else you own, if you take better care of it, it will last longer and have greater value when you trade it in. Daily inspections and catching small items before they blossom into giant repair headaches increases the useful life and value of your forklifts.

But this is all predicated on an effective and ongoing training program. Having a partner that’s dedicated to training and has experience training forklift operators is the key to an effective program. Visit our Forklift Safety Training Webpage. Contact Us for more information or to speak with someone, just give us a call at 888-393-9833.