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Why does OSHA require a daily pre-operational check on forklifts?

Pre-Operational check on industrial Materials handling equipment.

This comes from the trucking industry:

If you are driving a truck that has bald tires, or brakes/lights that don’t work correctly, you are held responsible for the ticket. Even if you don’t own the truck the ticket will still be written out under your name. The DMV requires that before you put a truck on the road you need to thoroughly check the unit for any driving hazards as well as having that information in your drivers log. The drivers log is always required to be with you when driving that truck. If you find anything that makes the truck unsafe to operate, you can refuse to operate the unit without any recourse from the employer. It is in the best interest for you and your employer that all is working and operating safely.

Industrial Materials Handling Equipment Requirements.

Operators should always inspect the forklift prior to operating it at the start of each shift. They should also make sure that any other forklift they jump on throughout their shift is ready to safely operate.


How to get your Forklift Drivers License

The main reasons for this;

OSHA requires that all operators inspect the units before starting their shift and that any potential problems should be brought up to their supervisor. The supervisor will then decide if the unit is safe to operate or if it should be tagged out of service until repaired. Once they have completed the inspection, if anything was found and the supervisor still cleared it to be operated, if something happens with the unit the responsibility/liability shifts from the operator to the supervisor. If intern the operator decides that they will use the unit after they found a problem but failed to notify their supervisor, they are personally responsible and can be held liable if an injury occurs.

The basic principle of doing a pre-operational inspection of a unit is to ensure that everything is operating properly. When management is notified of a problem, they need to react promptly by having the unit repaired. In the past it was common to hear about how operators would continually notify their superiors of operational issues, but nothing was ever done. This eventually caused accidents that would injure either the operator or someone working around the unit. From management it was the exact opposite. They would say that no one ever told them anything and if they had known that there was a problem, they would have fixed it. Management would say that they never let their employees use anything unsafe which could potentially injure someone. When OSHA inspected these accidents, it was a catch 22. Management said they never knew of any issues and operators would say they had reported the problem over and over to them?!

OSHA at that point started to require pre-operational inspections. They assigned responsibility for the operation of the units. The operator is responsible if they neglect reporting problems, while management is liable if they do not have such problems repaired.

When an accident occurs that either injures someone or causes a high dollar value product to become damaged, it is reported, and OSHA will investigate the incident.

When they arrive at the site, they will request the following from the company

They need to see that when a problem was reported on an inspection sheet, it was quickly repaired by a qualified and trained individual. Also, that all functions of that truck are working properly and that it was reported as such.

If they find that any of the three items required were not followed properly, the company can get fined for not following the OSHA requirements.

If pre-operational inspection forms are not available, we have heard that fines up to $1,500.00 can be given per shift a day.

Operators should want to make sure the unit they are going to operate is safe. Also, that the previous operator did not damage the unit and never reported it. In this case the new operator on the truck could be blamed for any damages caused. The operational check should include a visual check of the unit prior to operating as well. Visually everything needs to be in order which means making sure there are no spilled liquids/damages visible. This should be followed by a quick operational check. The horn, tires, wheels, brakes and all operating functions need to be working properly. If any of these things are not working soundly, report it immediately to the proper individuals and have them asses if the unit is safe to operate or if it needs be parked until repaired.

Using something that has a known problem which results in an injury becomes that persons liability.

People have been prosecuted for causing accidents due to neglect.  Neglect to create safe conditions has severely injured workers and even killed them. The operators, managers and whomever else’s wrong doing the accident was a result of have been found to be responsible! No longer will insurance go after high priced corporate lawyers that represent big companies, unless warranted in a pattern of continual neglect. Now they will go after the supervisor or operator and hold them accountable.

Be safe, only operate equipment that you have inspected and found to be in safe working order, and ALWAYS report any that you find are not. Don’t decide what makes it safe or unsafe, find the proper people that have the knowledge and authority to make that decision. It could save your life or someone else’s that you work with!