Given the fact that the NCAA Basketball tournament is underway, please bear with me on the football reference.
If you think the majority of forklift and lift apparatus fatalities occur in a manufacturing setting you may want to think again. An article caught my eye in the USA Today the other day – and in the Sports section no less! Last October, a University of Notre Dame student was killed while filming football practice on a hydraulic scissor-lift. The day of practice there were high winds (in excess of 50 mph) yet the student was elevated on the scissor-lift even though the majority of safety precautions by lift manufacturers state that the equipment should not be used during winds in excess of 25 mph.
This tragedy also struck close to home for me after another recent online article published in the OSHA Quicktakes specifically referenced a Hazard Alert issued by North Carolina in an effort to prevent workplace injuries and deaths. (March 1, 2011 – Volume 10, Issue 5.) After 7 deaths related to lift truck incidents occurred in North Carolina during 2010, the state is taking additional steps to reduce these fatalities by issuing a hazard alert and reminding everyone that North Carolina’s Occupational Health and Safety Division offers FREE TRAINING to employers on occupational safety and health standards. Click here to access the free forklift training.
A common thread in all of the articles I read, including the further research on the Notre Dame fatality is a lack of or disregard for training, a basic lack of awareness and unsafe behaviors.
Although you would not expect to see a fatality related to football and forklifts (or scissor-lifts in this case) – it is another reminder that safety precautions should be taken in all venues and that adherence to safety policies are a must.
So – what are your company policies on lift trucks and training? Have your employees received proper forklift training and certification? Are you aware that your state may very well provide you free training? Do you share these lessons from losses with your employees and how safe are their behaviors?
Kim Derthick is a Senior Risk Control Representative with Westfield Insurance. Kim is based out of our Charlotte, NC office and provides risk management solutions to customers throughout the Carolinas.