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Inspection Rate Rebounds

After hitting a plateau, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's inspection and citation activity has been on the rise.

OSHA performed 17,651 inspections in the six months through March 31 - the first half of its fiscal 2000 - a 14 percent increase over the 15,426 inspections conducted in the six months through March 31, 1999. That included a 29 percent gain in programmed inspections, to 9,209.

"OSHA is back to being its old self in some ways," said Tim Bartl, assistant general counsel of LPA, Inc., a large employer group, turning to "more thorough, wall-to-wall and less-forgiving" inspections, while targeting high-hazard worksites as shown by OSHA 200 logs rates. The new emphasis on high-hazard sites was reflected in a 16 percent rise in citations for the more-significant violations - willful, repeat and serious - to 27,097 violations in the six months ending March 31, from 23,280 a year earlier. But total cited violations rose almost as much, percentage-wise, to 40,042 from 34,665. Finalized or proposed penalties during the latest six-month period were up 20 percent, to $43.8 million.

The total inspection pace had risen sharply from a low in fiscal 1996, which was caused by budget constraints and other problems, but then leveled off at around 34,400 for fiscal 1997 through fiscal 1999. OSHA has benefited from an increased roster of inspectors recently, but the total is little changed from a decade ago.

(SOURCE: "Safety & Health", July 2000)


Seat Belt Use Required by OSHA

A question frequently asked by operators and management concerns seat belt usage. OSHA has issued citations when employees don't wear the forklift seat belt provided by the manufacturer. The new OSHA operator training standard does not directly require seat belt use, but contains a provision that requires employers to utilize "any other operating instructions, warnings or precautions listed in the operators manual for the type of vehicle that the employee is being trained to operate". Obviously, the manufacturers' operating manuals identify the use of seat belts.


Forklift Hazard Alert

NIOSH issued an alert in December 1999 (DHSS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2000-112) titled, "Preventing Injuries and Deaths of Workers Who Operate or Work Near Forklifts". Examples of several tip-over fatalities are identified in this study. NIOSH makes a point in identifying the hazards associated with tip-over.

"This alert recommends that forklift operators stay inside the forklift in the event of an overturn. However, this recommendation applies ONLY to forklifts that are operated in a seated position. In the event of an overturn, operators of stand-up forklifts should exit from the vehicle by stepping backward. Operators of stand-up forklifts should be trained to jump clear in this way."

It should be noted that NIOSH does not mention seat belts for sit-down PIT's in this notice. They do, however, mention seat belts within their operator guidelines in the publication. This document can be obtained from the NIOSH web site



The cases presented here were investigated by the NIOSH Fatality Assessment and control Evaluation (FACE) Program. The case reports wee selected to represent the most common types of fatal forklift incidents: (1) forklift overturns, (2) workers struck, crushed, or pinned by a forklift, and (3) falls from a forklift.

On April 25, 1995, a 37-year-old shop foreman was fatally injured after the forklift he was operating overturned. The victim was turning while backing down an incline with a 4% grade. The forklift was transporting a 3-foot-high, 150-pound stack of cardboard with the forks raised approximately 60 inches off the ground. No one witnessed the incident. The victim was found with his head pinned under the overhead guard. The forklift was not equipped with a seat belt. [California Department of Heath Services 1996].

On November 25, 1996, a 41-year-old male laborer was fatally injured when the forklift he was operating fell off a loading dock and pinned him under the overhead guard. The forklift was not equipped with a seat belt. The loading dock had large cracks in the surface and was in need of extensive repair.It was raining when the victim left the storage building to lift a load from the back of a pickup truck. Evidence indicates that either the victim’s forklift was too close to the outer edge of the loading dock (which crumbled) or the right front tire was caught in a large crack in the loading dock, causing the forklift to overturn [Indiana State Department of Health 1996].

SOURCES: Safety & Health / 2000; NIOSH Publication No. 2000-112) "Preventing Injuries and Deaths of Workers Who Operate or Work Near Forklifts" / December 1999.