• Information Date
  • Presented To
    National Forklift Safety Day
  • Speaker(s)
    Loren Sweatt

Remarks As Prepared For Delivery By
Loren Sweatt
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor
for Occupational Safety and Health

National Forklift Safety Day
June 12, 2018


Thank you for inviting me to participate in the fifth annual National Forklift Safety Day. As an alliance partner with OSHA for the last fourteen years, the Industrial Truck Association and all of your hard work and commitment to preventing forklift incidents is greatly appreciated.

Other Alliance partners are here today, including the National Safety Council, the Material Handling Institute, and the National Wooden Pallet and Container Handling Association – all of whom continue to work to bring attention to the important issues surrounding forklift safety. Or, as it is referred to in OSHA-speak powered industrial trucks (PITS).

In Fiscal Year 2017, the powered industrial truck standard was the seventh most frequently cited OSHA standard with 2,434 citations related to this standard.

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, there were 72 forklift-related fatalities in 2016. And, another 7,000 workers were injured – that’s 19 forklift incidents every day! These numbers equate to real people, which is why we are here today demonstrating a commitment to worker safety.

While all of you know and understand the importance of worker safety, especially when working around forklifts, it is important for everyone in this industry to ensure workers have the training and tools they need to recognize the hazards in these jobs.

This week, OSHA will release a new QuickCard targeting safe forklift operation. The card is designed to remind workers of the key elements to prevent injuries such as ensuring that operators are trained on the types of trucks used and workplace-related conditions, wearing a seatbelt, and never exceeding the rated load as well as ensuring the load is balanced.

OSHA has other resources available to you and your workers to identify hazards associated with powered industrial trucks, including the Public Warehousing and Storage course offered through the OSHA Training Institute Centers.

Only tangentially related, OSHA recently produced a one page document entitled Safety Practices Once Tractor Trailer Drivers Arrive at a Destination.

This is an example of how the agency is working to assist employers in understanding OSHA regulations. Through our existing alliance, products such as these should be developed collaboratively with an eye toward making this information readily accessible to you and your workers.

These sound simple as we stand in this room today, but all of you know worker protection is more than one safety talk, more than one QuickCard, more than one training session. Vigilance that safety is incorporated into work practices every day are part of the task at hand. It only takes a moment for the worst to happen.

Regulatory Agenda

The spring regulatory agenda acknowledges that OSHA will be issuing a Request for Information to update the powered industrial truck standard. This action is consistent with Executive Order 13777, calling for the review of existing regulations that may be outdated or ineffective.

Given the consensus standards mentioned in the existing regulations are from the same year we landed a man on the moon, I think we can all agree it is time for an update.  

I encourage all of you to actively participate in any rulemaking the agency undertakes. Providing your professional expertise through robust comments will ensure any final rule will represent existing industry best practices. 

Compliance

In addition to alliances, OSHA has many other compliance assistance resources available. The On-Site Consultation Program works with small employers to identify hazards and help comply with OSHA regulations. It is important to note this service has a firewall between the enforcement side of the agency.

The Voluntary Protection Program is another valuable asset for employers. VPP sites undergo intensive safety audits of a company’s safety and health program. It is a collaboration between management, workers, and unions where there is representation. VPP participants are exempt from programmed inspections. 

The Industrial Truck Association is a partner in OSHA’s Safe + Sound Campaign.  This campaign encourages employers to implement an effective safety and health program. Safe + Sound Week is August 13-19, 2018. Events and activities leading up to the week can be found on the OSHA website and in QuickTakes.

If you are not on the QuickTakes mailing list, you should consider it. Again, you can find the sign up on the OSHA website. This free newsletter provides timely information about agency actions, events, training, and enforcement actions.

Conclusion

Again, thank you for inviting me to participate in today’s Fifth Annual National Forklift Safety Day. The work does not end here.

Events such as these remind everyone that safety is not just a day, but a lifetime.