The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed fines of USD76,000 in citing New England Motor Freight Inc for 17 violations at a Pawtucket, Rhode Island terminal.
An OSHA inspection identified incorrect forklift operations resulting in collisions and injury. An operator had his left leg outside the running lines of the vehicle, and a passing forklift injured the employee's foot.
Employees operating forklifts were not wearing attached seatbelts, and forklift operators did not receive refresher training.
"Employers and workers must understand that lack of operator training and improper operation of forklifts can have severe and lasting consequences for workers," says Patrick Griffin, OSHA's area director in Providence, Rhode Island. "OSHA standards mandate initial and periodic refresher training for forklift operators to ensure the machines are operated safely." The citations were issued on 2 December.
In addition, the inspection found two defective Toyota forklifts incorrectly remaining in service and an absence of personal protective equipment for forklift operators changing LPG fuel tanks. Previously, OSHA had cited Elizabeth, New Jersey-based New England Motor Freight for similar hazards at terminals in Meriden, Connecticut and South Plainfield, New Jersey.
One of the Toyotas, a HP1020, was missing part of the restraint system and had an inoperative horn. The other Toyota, identified as a 756, had an impact with another forklift but was put back into service without an inspection. In addition, an inspection found a bolt securing the hydraulic cylinder to the 756's retaining bracket was backed out from the hole provided for it. Also, the 756's horn was inoperative.
OSHA alleges the handling of loads exceeding the rated capacity of the forklift: "Employees were utilising the practice of using one forklift to assist in the extraction of another forklift by lifting the disabled forklift until the tyre was dislodged from a gap between the dock plate and the structure." As a result, "operators were not sure how much weight was actually being handled by the forklift", the citation says.
Separately, the OSHA area office in Westbury, New York issued two serious citations on 30 November against L&S Packing Co Inc of East Farmingdale, New York and proposed penalties of USD5,000. OSHA says L&S was operating a pair of electric-powered, three-wheel 3,000 lb (1,350 kg) capacity Yale forklifts without back-up lights and insecurely stacking stored materials in the ingredient, platform and raw material areas. Three unit loads of bottled sauce in the platform area collapsed and fatally struck Yolanda Gonzalez, 39, who was attaching labels to the packaging.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthy workplaces for their employees.