The Last National Forklift Safety Day:  Why North America is Embracing the Fork Truck Free Movement

June 17, 2016 0 Comments Events 1691 Views

The Third Annual National Forklift Safety Day was celebrated June 14, 2016. Hopefully it was celebrated for the last time as more and more North American factories and distributions are moving to a Fork Truck Free environment.

In the $165 billion U.S. materials handling industry, safety and productivity go hand-in-hand, less and less should be spent on fork lifts, which are the number one safety hazard causing thousands of deaths each year. One in six of all workplace fatalities in the U.S. are forklift related.

Despite regular operator training there is little data to demonstrate that costly and consistent education efforts generate safe processes or yield increased operational efficiency and overall output. Sponsored by the Industrial Truck Association (ITA), National Forklift Safety Day features speakers from OSHA, the National Safety Council, and the congressional subcommittee on workforce protections, covering updates on OSHA regulations, international trade policy, and current congressional activity. Fork Truck manufacturers want to keep the status quo alive; billions of dollars rest on companies continuing use of fork trucks and hundreds of representatives joined industry peers in Washington, D.C. for these events.

National Forklift Safety Day is billed as a tremendous opportunity to emphasize the importance of safe forklift operation and reconvene with regulatory and other industry leaders each year. While noble in thought, the reality is that there is danger inherent with Fork Lift trucks.  Fork Truck Free, widely adopted throughout Europe, is now becoming the norm in North America.

Safety is driving momentum for forklift-free environments. Although training and legislation are instrumental in managing some degree of risks associated with forklifts, statistics reveal numerous accidents occur every year, providing reasons for greater acceptance of forklift-free environments. This motivation towards forklift-free leads the way to adopting a more efficient form of transport–vision guided vehicles (VGVs)–favorably driving benefits beyond safety and profitability. To protect workers, agencies in the United States and abroad, such as OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and EU-OSHA, provide analysis, research, and prevention information, which policymakers use to regulate workplace safety and health. Various groups focus on standardized training and encourage continuous process improvements in workplace safety. Even with legislation and training enforcement, there is no evidence that these preventative methodologies have verifiable best practices and safe behaviors among forklift operators globally. Without evidentiary data to support these prevention techniques, companies concerned with safety are proactively seeking alternatives to forklifts with vision guided vehicles and forklift-free environments.

Forklift Incidents Bring Cause for Safety Initiatives

Every year hundreds of fatalities occur from forklifts worldwide. Federal OSHA estimates that in the United States alone, there are nearly 100 worker fatalities and another 20,000 seriously injured in forklift-related incidents annually. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, OSHA estimates that there are 110,000 forklifts accidents each year with $135 million immediate costs incurred due to forklift accidents. Approximately every three days, someone in the U.S. is killed in a forklift and related accidents and almost 80% of forklift accidents involved a pedestrian.

“Fork-free environments are inherently safer. Forklifts cause just 1% of industrial accidents, but over 10% of industrial injuries. Industry leaders still have to find safer ways to move palletized and heavy loads, but those methods are available. At the very least, reducing the number of forklifts helps workers operate safer, since fewer drivers are needed to be trained. With a hundred annual deaths and 20,000 serious injuries every year, forklifts tend to be the most dangerous machinery in any industrial operation. There are risks with the various fork-free methods—there are always risks in handling heavy unit loads—but they tend to be mitigated to a greater degree.

Topper Industrial

Posted by Jillian Burrow, Marketing Manager for Topper Industrial – Material Handling Solutions

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