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OSHA Cites Atlanta-area Firm for Fatal Forklift Accident

ATLANTA -- The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Newnan, Ga.-based Kaylex Company for allegedly allowing an employee who was not qualified as a forklift instructor to train another worker at a College Park warehouse where a young worker was killed June 19.

OSHA issued one serious citation to the company for failing to protect workers by assuring instructors had the knowledge and experience to train powered-industrial-truck operators and evaluate their competence.

A 15-year-old trainee was killed when the forklift he was operating suddenly went into reverse, ran through the loading dock gates, flipped over and plunged four feet onto a concrete floor. The trainee was reportedly pinned under the forklift and died on the way to the hospital.

"This tragic accident may have been avoided if the company had followed the standard of only allowing trained, experienced instructors with knowledge of forklift operations to train individuals," said Andre C. Richards, OSHA's Atlanta-West area director. "Moving equipment such as forklifts can be dangerous to operate and require extensive training."

Richards said the maximum fine for a serious violation is $7,000, however, the Kaylex firm's fine was reduced to $4,900 due to its prior clean safety record and its classification as a small business.

OSHA staff in the Southeast have investigated at least nine other forklift fatalities and 30 industrial truck fatalities since Oct. 1, 2002. He said compliance assistance specialists, who work separately from OSHA's enforcement program, are available in each area office to assist employers in recognizing and reducing hazards that lead to such accidents.

OSHA issues a serious citation when there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. The company has 15 working days to contest the citation and penalty before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

The Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division previously issued an $11,000 civil money penalty to the company under provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The penalty was assessed for allowing a teen to operate a forklift, which is a hazardous occupation banned for youths under the age of 18.