Forklift Safety – Are You OSHA Compliant

forklift training in warehouse

Forklift Safety – Are You OSHA Compliant?

Published by Timothy G. Wiemer

Many companies have chosen to abide by the law and implement a forklift safety program. Unfortunately, there are a number of businesses that choose to “roll the dice”, ignore the law, and not provide forklift training for their employees.  Most would agree that forklift accidents cost companies. Forklift accidents cost companies in a variety of ways some of which include:

  • Adverse public perception of the company after accident
  • Poor attitudes in the workplace
  • High monetary cost

I have had numerous conversations with various individuals and a variety of companies that have decided not to pursue forklift safety training. A few of the reasons given include:  

  • No perceived benefit
  • Was seen as excessive government regulation
  • High cost of down time during training

In addition businesses think that it’s an unnecessary expense. They have come to this determination based on the  fact that they have experienced long term employees and no history of accidents. Some businesses fail to acknowledge is that even the “best” or “safest” employee is not immune from the possibility of creating or being involved in an accident.

forklift safety training in warehouse
Forklift Trainer Reviewing Hands-On Evaluation with Forklift Operator

There are many examples of business closing their doors due to 1 injury/accident after a lengthy expensive court case. It is one thing for those business that have an accident/incident, that followed the law by providing training and then found themselves in court. For the company that has chosen not to provided training, how would they defend their choices if they were taken to court?

Why Forklift Safety Training Program – Other Than Injury or Accident Concerns 

An employee injury or accident is not the only reason for an OSHA visit. Companies need to consider what ramifications a disgruntled worker could pose if they were to contact their local OSHA office. Employees can contact OSHA and report any unsafe working conditions. OSHA’s policy is to investigate all complaints, either by phone/fax or in person. 

Prior to beginning an inspection OSHA’s first step is to determine if a violation of an OSHA standard, safety or health hazard exist. For those employers that can provide all the necessary documentation contradicting the complaint, the agency may choose not to conduct an inspection. For those that can’t OSHA may decide to conduct an on-site inspection. The investigation is generally limited to the information (hazard) provided in the complaint. However, any other violations found in plain sight or if during their conversations with employees other complaints are brought to the attention of the inspector, other violations may be cited.

There Are Strong Arguments For Having a Forklift Safety Training Program 

Statistics show that forklift training has stopped the rise of forklift accidents, which increased from 1992 – 1998. In the years following the law (OSHA CFR 1910.178(l)(i)) which required that operators be trained and evaluated prior to operating forklifts. The fatal accidents declined from its upward trend and have since shown a leveling out when compared to past years.

We can’t say for certain that all operators that receive forklift training will never be involved in an accident, incident, or a near miss. Furthermore we can’t say for certain that common sense or experience is a substitute for a good forklift safety program. What one can say is that by choosing not to provide forklift training for your employees is breaking the law. Also, If a company is found to be non-compliant by OSHA then they could see a penalty/fine. On August 2, 2016 the amount for failing to comply went up 78%. For other than serious violations was $7,000 now $12,471 (an increase of $5,471) and for willful violation was $70,000 now $124,709 (an increase of $54,709).

In conclusion, the decision to follow OSHA CFR 1910.178(l)(i)  or not rests solely on the leadership of the company employing forklift operators. I can only hope that the decision-makers weigh out all their options. If you are one of the decision makers looking to investigate all your options please feel free to contact us. We are more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

If you have forklift training or aerial lift training questions, are interested in learning more about the services/products offered at First Quality Forklift Training LLC, or would like a free training quote, please call us at (800) 647-FQFT (3738) or email us at [email protected] . We look forward to hearing from you.


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