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Forklift safety: a strong reason for close and regular scrutiny

Forklifts are so common in the American workplace landscape that most people likely never give them a thought. Arguably, they are the essential work assist and daily MVP in diverse factory, industrial, retail and other environments. Employers in virtually all realms unquestionably regard them as indispensable.

Safety regulators say that they should also be considered in this additional light: as catalysts that can promote serious injuries for operators, in-proximity employees and additional third parties.

There is no question that forklifts deliver outsized performance as they shuttle nonstop from task to task. Sadly, though, there is also no question that they directly trigger many on-the-job personal injury outcomes.

Here’s glaring evidence of that: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration states that 85 forklift-linked deaths occurred in the United States in a recent year. Moreover, they were coupled with nearly 35,000 serious injuries.

That clear nexus to danger obviously merits closest scrutiny. Just as importantly, it mandates exacting regulatory rules and procedures geared toward securing safe forklift outcomes in every instance.

One forklift safety expert zeroes in on that subject matter in a recent article penned for the publication EHS Today. He notes that, while forklift operational aspects (e.g., safe driving) routinely receive much attention, maintenance on the go-to vehicle is an area too often underemphasized.

Tom Wilkerson urges a greater focus on that shortcoming. He spotlights specific regulatory guidelines that lay out procedures relevant to inspection, testing and repair, and he notes that forklifts should be thoroughly examined before they go into operation on any given day.

Wilkerson directly addresses business principals who complain that they can’t live with daily maintenance-tied forklift exactions.

“The truth is,” he says, “you can’t live without it.”