Training for Powered Industrial Trucks

Last week, my employer graciously gave me an opportunity to broaden my knowledge base through some train the trainer classes.  As a student of safety, I tackle these opportunities like an outside linebacker with a free lane to the quarterback.  The three days of training encompassed forklift and aerial work platforms.  22 years in manufacturing have made industrial trucks very common to me, but there was a lot that I just didn’t know.  For instance, in 1999, OSHA updated the training regulations for forklifts.  Part of that update was the addition of 22 specific topics to be introduced to prospective operators in a formal instruction setting.  This is something that cannot be covered in a half-hour session as many employers think.


Forklift image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved from











Here is a quick list of what I learned in forklift training:

  • Formal instruction – The preferred method is a combination of lecture and video in a classroom setting.  The video portion is important as it could be submitted as evidence in legal proceedings as proof that all topics have been covered.  This portion should take at least four hours.
  • Practical training – A hands-on demonstration by an instructor and a demonstration of understanding by the trainee.  This could be covered in some type of obstacle course.
  • Practice in the working environment – This should be done under the watchful eye of a knowledgeable, trained and experienced operator.
  • Evaluation – This is a critical part of the process and one that most employers overlook.  This should be conducted within a few weeks of the initial training and every three years thereafter.

For more information on forklift training, refer to 29 CFR 1910.178 of the OSHA regulations or ANSI B56 of the American National Standards.

Is your forklift training program adequate?


The U.S. Government’s Role in Safety – Part 4

The U.S. government signed the Occupational Safety and Health Act into law in 1970.  Great strides have been made in workplace safety since then.  Today’s post is the fourth in a four part series on the U.S. government and it’s role in workplace safety.


The National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health is a 12-person advisory committee established under the OSH Act of 1970.  The members “are chosen on the basis of their knowledge and experience in occupational safety and health.” (National Advisory, n.d.)  The committee has a very specific breakdown for its membership.  This gives the committee cross-functional viewpoints for debate.  The committee is designated to consist of “two members representing management, two members representing labor, two members representing the occupational health professions, two members representing the occupational safety professions, and four members representing the public.” (National Advisory, n.d.)  Appointments to the committee are made by the Secretary of Labor and the terms of appointment are for two years.  The Secretary of Health and Human Services designates the two health representatives and two of the public members for the Secretary of Labor’s approval (National Advisory, n.d.)

committeeCourtesty Bing Images

The purpose of NACOSH is to advise, consult with, and make recommendations to the Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of Health and Human Services.  Their support is on matters relating to the administration of the OSH Act of 1970.  They give advice and recommendations on Agency priorities such as “strong, fair and effective enforcement, regulatory matters, and other activities to help reduce work-related deaths, injuries and illnesses.” (U.S. Department, 2012)  They do not write policies, they only consult and advise.  The members are not compensated for their efforts.

Click this link and scroll to the bottom of the page to see the representative list.

National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health. (n.d.). Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Retrieved from

U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration Advisory Committee Charter National Advisory Committee on Safety and Health. (2012, October 15). Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Retrieved from

The U.S. Governmnent’s Role in Safety – Part 3

The U.S. government signed the Occupational Safety and Health Act into law in 1970.  Great strides have been made in workplace safety since then.  Today’s post is the third in a four part series on the U.S. government and it’s role in workplace safety.

Bureau of Labor Statistics

bls logoCourtesy Wikipedia

“The Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor is the principal Federal agency responsible for measuring labor market activity, working conditions, and price changes in the economy.” (About BLS, 2013)  The BLS collects, analyzes, and disseminates economic information that supports decision making of both public and private business.  The BLS is an independent statistical agency whose mission is to provide “products and services that are objective, timely, accurate, and relevant.” (About BLS, 2013)

The Bureau of Labor Statistics was established in 1884 (About BLS, 2013).  It became part of the U.S. Department of Labor upon its inception in 1913.  The Secretary of Labor is the Director of the BLS and it is his duty to oversee the statistical reporting of the BLS and to call upon other Departments of the government for their statistical data.  The BLS is required to report, at least, annually.

About BLS. (2013, April 11). BLS Information. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved from http://

The U.S. Government’s Role in Safety – Part 2

The U.S. government signed the Occupational Safety and Health Act into law in 1970.  Great strides have been made in workplace safety since then.  Today’s post is the second in a four part series on the U.S. government and it’s role in workplace safety.

Secretary of Labor


Courtesy Wikipedia

The Department of Labor was created on March 4, 1913 when it was signed into law by William Howard Taft.  In that law, the position of Secretary was created.  The Secretary of Labor is the head of that department.  The position is filled by the appointment of the President of the United States with the consent of the Senate.  The Secretary acts as a mediator in labor disputes, gives an annual fiscal update to Congress, and reports an activity plan to Congress.  The Secretary also serves as the Director of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (The Organic Act, 1913).  The BLS serves as the official producer of injury and illness data.

9625404844_fc7f8bcfbc_bPhoto courtesy  http://

On July 23, 2013, Thomas E. Perez was sworn into the office of Secretary of Labor.  He was nominated by President Obama and is the nation’s 26th Secretary of Labor.  Mr. Perez came from the Department of Justice where he served as the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.  He had previous experience in Maryland’s Department of Labor where he served as Secretary (Meet the Secretary, n.d.).

Meet the Secretary of Labor. (n.d.). United States Department of Labor. Retrieved from http://

The Organic Act of the Department of Labor. (1913, March 4).The United States Department of Labor. Retrieved from http://

The U.S. Government’s Role in Safety – Part 1

The U.S. government signed the Occupational Safety and Health Act into law in 1970.  Great strides have been made in workplace safety since then.  Today’s post is the first in a four part series on the U.S. government and it’s role in workplace safety.


“The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is the U.S. federal agency that conducts research and makes recommendations to prevent worker injury and illness.” (The National Institute, 2013)  NIOSH research helps provide solutions to identified problems.  There are 155 million workers in the United States that benefit from NIOSH’s research.  NIOSH is the only dedicated federal investment for research in the prevention of worker injuries and illnesses.

accidenttreatmentPhoto courtesy

NIOSH was established as a result of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.  NIOSH partners with OSHA and is a division of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. NIOSH employs more than 1,200 people and is headquartered in Washington D.C. and Atlanta, Georgia (The National Institute, 2013).

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. (2013, July 26). Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://

Why Did the Deer Cross the Road?

It’s that time of year again.  Cooler temperatures, shorter days, and colored leaves are prevalent.  Autumn is my favorite.  I love pumpkin festivals and cool crisp mornings.  But there is something that happens in the fall that I don’t love, increased deer activity.


In my youth, I was involved in two separate vehicle-deer crashes.  The first happened with my dad driving, the second with my mother behind the wheel.  It is important to note that neither deer survived.

The 2012 vehicle-deer collision report was just released by State Farm.  The report gives an estimate of 1.22 million such collisions across the country from July 2012 to June 2013 (“Downward”, 2013).  Closer to home, The Ohio Department of Public Safety reported a drop in vehicle-deer crashes in the state of 7.5 percent.  There were a total of 20,996 crashes reported in Ohio in 2012 compared to 22,696 in 2011.  Hamilton County (where I live) was third in the state with 522 reported incidents (“Downward”, 2013).  Insurance claims from crashes involving animals are 3.5 times as high in November as they are in August (“Downward”, 2013).

What is the reason for the increase?  Dear breeding season peaks in mid-November.  During the breeding season, or ‘rut’, the deer are focused on mating; they travel more than in other seasons, and pay less attention to hazards such as vehicles.  They also move because of changes in food availability and shelter due to harvest and leaves falling.  The shorter days also mean dusk and dawn (primetime for deer movement) occur when commuter traffic is heaviest (Elliott, 2013).  So, as the season changes, get out and enjoy the greatest time of the year.  But, keep your eyes peeled for our furry four-legged friends.



Downward trend in Ohio’s deer-vehicle collisions continues. (2013, October 1). Hudson Hub-Times. Retrieved from http://

Elliott, D. (2012, October 30). Motorists beware:  deer on the move during fall.  KRSL Russell Radio. Retrieved from http://

How Safe are You at the Amusement Park?

Since the death of Rosa Esparza on July 19th, I have been paying extra attention to amusement park safety statistics.  Rosa was a Dallas, Texas resident who was thrown from the Texas Giant, a roller coaster at Six Flags Over Texas (Dewberry, 2013).  It’s a sad story of a family at an amusement park expecting a day of fun and finding tragedy.


Here in Cincinnati, we have Kings Island Amusement Park.  It is owned by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company in Sandusky, Ohio.  My two children (13 and 15) like to go there with their friends during the summer.  We have season passes and I am comfortable with dropping them off and picking them up later in the day.  I do not worry about them while they are there.  But how safe are they?

On the website Theme Park Insider, I found that Kings Island has had very few incidents involving mechanical failure.  That’s a good thing.  But it does happen, like the incident at Six Flags Over Texas.  On Tuesday, Six Flags announced they found no indication of mechanical failure.  They also announced the ride is reopening this weekend with additional safety measures, including seat belts (Dewberry, 2013).  I was curious to see what the investigation would prove.  This is what Six Flags came up with, “As with other rides in the park, guests with unique body shapes or sizes may not fit into the restraint system” (Dewberry, 2013).  Witnesses that were waiting in line at the time reported that Ms. Esparza complained to a park employee that she was not properly secured in her seat.  She was told, “As long as you heard it click, you’re fine” (Johnson, 2013).  The family announced, yesterday, they are suing Six Flags for at least $1 million in damages (Dewberry, 2013).  It is a tragedy.

So, how safe are you on a ride at an amusement park?  “The chance of being seriously injured on a ride at a fixed-site park in the U.S. is 1 in 24 million” (Vallee, 2013).  The author got this statistic from the Fixed-Site Amusement Ride Injury Survey prepared by the National Safety Council for the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.  With odds like that, amusement parks are pretty safe places to enjoy a warm summer day, but accidents do happen.



Dewberry, D. ( 2013, September 11). Family sues over fatal fall from Texas Giant. NBC Retrieved from http://

Johnson, M. A. (2013, July 20). Witnesses: Woman falls to her death from Texas roller coaster. NBC Retrieved from http://

Vallee, J. (2013, September 9). Festival season is coming: Are carnival rides safe?. Southington Patch. Retrieved from http://

Back to School…Tips for Getting There Safely

Today, my children started 9th and 11th grade, respectively.  It’s kind of hard to believe. (I’m not that old.) As I was helping them prepare this morning, I was thinking of Billy Madison. “Back to school, back to school, to prove to Dad that I’m not a fool…” (Sing along if you know it.)  But, even more importantly, I was thinking of their safety.


It is that time of year again. The moans and groans of children can be heard as summer vacation comes to a close.  As a parent, it is a great time to have a safety talk with your children.  Remind them of the rules, and their behavior and avoiding strangers.  As a motorist, it is a time to slow down and pay attention in the mornings and afternoons.  Don’t drive distracted.  A new school year is a fresh beginning.  The best way to start off is with safety in mind.

Watch this video from American Family Insurance:

Top Back to School Safety Tips

Here are some simple reminders for drivers:

  • Slow down!  Be especially alert in residential neighborhoods and school zones.  Always follow posted school zone speed limits.
  • Pay attention!  Always stop when directed to do so by designated crossing guards.
  • Watch for children on and near the road in the morning and after school hours.
  • Reduce any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.  Put down your phone and don’t talk or text while driving.
  • It is illegal to pass a school bus that is stopped while loading or unloading students.  Stop far enough from the bus to allow children the necessary space to safely enter and exit the bus.
  • Never pass a school bus on the right.  This is, also, against the law.

Go over these reminders with your kids:

  • Always walk on the sidewalk.  In rural areas, where sidewalks are unavailable, walk on the edge of the road, facing traffic. (Younger children should walk with a parent.)
  • Cross the street at corners.  Use traffic signals and crosswalks.
  • Never run out into the street or cross in between parked cars.
  • Wear a helmet when riding a bike to school.
  • Walk in front of the school bus where the driver can see them.
  • Good behavior on the bus is very important.  It reduces driver distractions.

What other tips can you think of to make sure the kids get to and from school safely?

More tips can be found at the National Safety Council website.   http://

Causes of Injuries and How To Avoid Them

Webster’s dictionary defines Safety as the condition of being safe from undergoing or causing hurt, injury, or loss.  Safe means free from harm or risk, or secure from threat of danger, harm or loss.  I define Safety as the commitment to myself, my family and my co-workers to apply the conditions of being Safe to everything I do.  My family expects me to come home at the end of the shift and my coworkers expect me to show up at work the next day.


This is my definition today…but what was my definition five, ten or twenty years ago?  My personal safety culture has developed and strengthened throughout the years.  I have learned from, both, my mistakes and the mistakes of others.  I have learned from training classes and videos.  I have learned from age and losing the sense of invulnerability I had in my youth.  But, even with all the training and experience in my life, there is no guarantee that I will not get hurt.

The causes of industrial injuries can be broken down into three distinct categories:

  • Employee error—misjudged situations; distractions by others; neuromuscular malfunctions; inappropriate working positions; and knowingly using defective equipment;
  • Equipment insufficiency—use of inappropriate equipment; safety devices being removed or inoperative; and the lack of such things as engineering controls, respiratory protection, and protective clothing;
  • Procedure insufficiency—failure of procedure for eliciting warning of hazard; inappropriate procedure for handling materials; failure to lock out or tag out; and a lack of written work procedures.

Read more: http://

What are the best ways to avoid an industrial injury?

  • Eliminate the hazard.  This is most effective with new processes.  It can be quite costly in existing processes.
  • Engineering controls are the next best option.  Machine guarding and other types of barriers such as light curtains prevent workers from entering dangerous parts of equipment.  Engineering controls must be maintained and inspected regularly.
  • Administrative controls or safety policies and procedures can be effective with proper training and enforcement.
  • Personal Protective Equipment is the last ditch effort to protect workers.  Items, such as, protective eyewear, gloves or an apron is required when all other efforts fail.  PPE must, also, be maintained and inspected.

The only guarantee is to eliminate the hazard.  All other options require training, inspections and enforcement.  Workers must be trained about the proper use of barriers or disciplined if they remove machine guards.  Employees must be trained in proper procedures and disciplined when they are out of compliance.  Workers must be issued proper PPE and trained in its use and care.  No matter how you choose to avoid hazards, training and enforcement is going to be the key component.

What methods do you use to avoid injuries?  What improvements can you make?

Having Fun With Safety: Using Humor to Prove Your Point

Perhaps you have heard the old saying, “Laughter is the best medicine.”  And, perhaps you have seen studies that support the health benefits of laughter.  I love to crack jokes and have a good time.  I feel better when I am smiling.  But can humor be part of safety training?

Let’s take fire safety, for instance.  This is a very serious matter.  Lives can be lost.  Property can be damaged.  But does this picture negatively impact a training session?


Think about hand safety.  We all work with our hands.  I am working this keyboard right now.  When I train employees about hand safety (using the proper tools and using tools properly), I always say “Don’t use a wrench as a hammer, and if you use a hammer as a wrench…we have another problem.”  Now, I’m no Adam Sandler, but that one usually would get a chuckle or two.  Does this safety poster negatively impact a training session?


Think about the last training session you were in.  Where you attentive?  Do you remember what it was about?  When I think back to my favorite teachers in high school, they are the ones who would bring humor to the classroom.  I feel that same way about training sessions in the workplace.  Even when the topic is serious, it can be infused with some humor.

I have included an excerpt and a link if you would like to read more.  It is from Elaine Biech in the book Training For Dummies.

Start off on a funny foot

Establish the atmosphere right from the start. Every session should start off on a high note to set the stage for the rest of the session. Be positive. You want to send the message that this will be fun.

Why add humor to the opening of a training session?

  • Relieves nervousness participants may feel
  • Establishes the environment for the rest of the session
  • Gets participants’ attention
  • Models that although the session is serious, the trainer does not necessarily believe in being glum

There is a time and place for everything.  Humor, when used the right way, can be a valuable training tool.

Do you have any thoughts or suggestions on using humor in safety training?