8 ways to prevent forklift accidents

Each year, thousands of injuries are sustained from forklift or powered industrial truck accidents, and sadly, several deaths. Many commercial and farming operations can benefit from implementing proper safety protocols, resulting in reduced worker injuries and workers’ compensation claims.

  • Provide training. Employers are required to provide training on how to properly use a forklift. Provide written, video, or lecture training, combined with hands-on demonstration. Training should include: 
    • Weight restrictions and load stability parameters. 
    • Protocol for pedestrians and workers in the area of operation. 
    • Proper navigation of door openings and other hazardous areas, such as ramps and narrow aisles. 
    • Proper stacking of loads. 
    • Any other operating instructions, warnings, or precautions listed in the operator’s manual for the type of forklift being used. 
    • Employers must certify that each operator has received training and evaluate each operator at least once every three years. 
  • Provide supervision. For those first operating a forklift, be sure to provide plenty of supervision and guidance from an experienced and trained operator. 
  • Make no exceptions. No one under the age of 18 should operate a forklift. It is a violation of Federal law. 
  • Provide ventilation. Remember that forklifts are often gas-powered, meaning that carbon monoxide can build up in enclosed areas. 
  • Schedule checkups. Routinely check to make sure the forklift is maintained properly. This includes the horn, lights, tire pressure, hydraulics, brakes, steering, and operating systems. 
  • Never allow passengers. Unless your forklift is designed for more than one operator, never give a ride. 
  • Watch overhead. Consider doorways, wires, and other overhead obstructions that may interfere with a raised load. 
  • No stunts allowed. Never tolerate horseplay or reckless driving, no matter how experienced an operator may be. Consider enforcing disciplinary action to emphasize the seriousness of the offense. 
Learn more about forklift safety from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration website, and also check out the frequently asked questions. Do your part to keep everyone in the workplace safe.

Self-inspections increase workplace safety

Employers have a legal, moral, and financial obligation to provide a safe workplace. Setting up a routine workplace inspection program is one way to reduce workplace injuries and control costs. Inspections should take place on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis:

• Daily: Employees check their own workstations and equipment
• Weekly: Supervisors tour the work area to look for safety concerns
• Monthly: A safety leader or committee conducts a scheduled inspection and recommends corrective actions

Safety committees 
Self-inspection programs work best when they include employee involvement. One way to encourage employee leadership is to establish a safety committee.

Typically, this group of employees would meet monthly to discuss workplace hazards and action steps that could make the workplace safer. This team can also be charged with doing a monthly safety walk-through for all areas of the work site.

To be effective, members of the safety committee should have appropriate safety training and experience. It’s also important the committee has strong management support.

Management can demonstrate safety as a priority by implementing the measures recommended by the safety committee. If corrective actions are not planned, leaders should engage in conversation with the committee, explaining why the company is not acting on a safety request and outlining alternate solutions that could be made.

Employee responsibility 
Everyone is responsible for creating safe working conditions, whether you’re part of a safety committee or not. Employees can protect themselves and their coworkers by doing the following:
• Inspect work areas and tools at the beginning of each workday
• Report any unsafe conditions to the supervisor
• Attend all workplace safety sessions
• Wear all recommended personal protective equipment

Self-inspections are key to any safety program. An inspection program is a proactive way to identify and address hazardous conditions before an accident occurs.

SECURA named to Ward’s Top 50 Performers

This week, SECURA was recognized as one of Ward’s 50 top performers for achieving outstanding financial performance over a five-year period.

This recognition highlights our overall strength, which is something policyholders can rely on. They benefit from choosing an insurance company with a history of profitability and growth. It means they can feel confident we’ll be there if they have a claim and trust that they’ll be taken care of.

“We’re a mutual company and that means we put the best interests of our policyholders at the heart of all we do,” said Dave Gross, SECURA President and CEO. “This acknowledgment speaks to the power of that philosophy.”

Annually, Ward analyzes more than 3,000 property-casualty insurance companies in the United States and identifies top performers. Each Ward’s 50 company has achieved superior performance over the five years analyzed.

Getting behind the wheel as you age

As we get older, certain natural health changes could impact our ability to drive. We tend to lose strength and coordination, which can make it difficult to safely control a car.

For example, pain in your neck could make it hard to change lanes or look for cross traffic at intersections. Stiffness in your legs could impact how fast you switch between the gas and brake pedals. Hearing and vision issues also are common safety concerns for older drivers.

Be proactive about evaluating your own abilities. Get your vision checked regularly. Ask your doctor for his or her opinion on your ability to drive safely, and find out if any of your medications could impact your clarity and judgment on the road.

Plan for safety 
Know your limitations, and avoid certain driving situations that make you uncomfortable. Choose alternate routes or drive times when traffic will be lighter. Whenever possible, limit your driving after dark and in bad weather.

You might also consider taking a driver safety course, like the ones sponsored by AARP. Cars and traffic laws have changed over the years, and a refresher course can bring you up-to-date on the latest vehicle safety gear and new rules of the road.
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Listen to concerns 
Be willing to listen if loved ones express concerns about your driving. If someone close to you is asking questions about your ability to drive, but you still feel capable, seek out a professional evaluation.

An occupational therapist or driver rehabilitation specialist can provide a neutral third party opinion to help you make your decision. A therapist may also be able to suggest vehicle modifications or tools to improve your safety and keep you driving longer. If you don’t know where to find these services, ask your doctor or call your nearest aging resource center.

Driving safely through work zones: Protect yourself and construction workers

Roadway construction zones are dangerous, and not just for the people who work there. In fact, drivers are the most frequent fatality in work zone crashes. Over the last five years, more than 4,400 people died in work zone crashes in the U.S., and 85 percent of them were drivers or passengers.

Drivers must stay attentive to safely navigate the barrels, signs, and lane changes that are common in work zones. Being safe in a work zone means paying attention to three S’s: Speed, Stress, and Space.

Speed

Slow down as soon as you see road construction signs. You’ll be in the work zone sooner than you think.
Follow posted speed limits, and don’t ramp back up to normal speed until you see road signs indicating it’s safe to do so.

Stress
Expect delays. Plan ahead and give yourself extra time to get where you’re going.
Manage your stress. Keep your cool. If someone is tailgating you, flash your headlights on and off (to illuminate your tail lights), or lightly tap on your brakes. If safe, pull over and let them pass.

Space
Leave a safety zone. When stopped in traffic, leave a cushion between you and the car in front of you. As a good rule of thumb, you should be able to see the bottom of the tires of the vehicle in front of you.
Stay alert. Watch traffic around you and be prepared to react. (Be disciplined and don’t let yourself gawk at stopped cars or construction work.)
Expect the unexpected in case workers or work vehicles enter your lane without warning.

Everyone needs to take responsibility for work zone safety. Your work crews and highway departments are working hard to create safe conditions. Do your part and stay alert.