Sears settles forklift case with OSHA

News Story
- 20 Jul 2006 ( #269 ) - WASHINGTON, DC, United States
1 min read
by US correspondent Roger Renstrom
A federal regulatory settlement with one of the US's largest retailers sends a message to all operations using powered industrial trucks.

In the settlement, Sears Roebuck & Co agreed to adopt a safety and health program to ensure safe use of forklifts in more than 900 company locations and to pay a penalty of USD70,000. The US Department of Labour's Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) disclosed the settlement late last month.

OSHA investigated an April 19, 2005, accident at a Sears store in Monaca, Pennsylvania, and cited the company on September 29 for exposing employees to fall hazards from forklifts. Washington-based OSHA said employees rode on unsecured platforms without guardrails, on the forks of trucks, and forklift operators were inadequately trained.

The company failed to provide personal fall arrest systems to employees or equip forklifts with overhead guards to protect employees from falling objects.

Edwin G Foulke Jr, OSHA assistant secretary of labour, said: "We are pleased to resolve this matter and avoid the time and expense of litigation."

"This agreement represents a major commitment to ensure safety and provide employees the needed training and protection," Foulke said. "Sears has agreed to implement changes at the Pennsylvania store [and] all locations within federal OSHA jurisdiction." Sears must conduct formal instruction and practical training and, at least once every three years, evaluate each forklift operator's performance.

Bill Montwieler, executive director of the Washington-based Industrial Truck Association, said: "The OSHA announcement [is] of significant interest to those charged with training forklift operators at their companies."

Sears Holding Corp, of Hoffman Estates, Illinois, USA, is the parent of the Sears Roebuck and Kmart broadline retail operations.
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