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Construction Site Safety for Forklifts and Cranes

Safety on the construction site is paramount for both employers and employees alike. For employees, safety is critical to maintaining healthy workers. For employers, accidents are costly, cause delays, reduce the work force, and can result in inspections from the United States Department of Labor – Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This article seeks to address some common areas of construction site safety.

Forklift Safety

As a preliminary matter, no one under the age of 18 is authorized to operate a forklift. Before an adult can operate a forklift, they should be required to complete a comprehensive training on the operation of a forklift. This training must be followed by a competency exam or evaluation to ensure a thorough understanding of the workings of a forklift. This training must be done in the first language of the forklift operator. Refresher training is provided any time a forklift operator is observed operating the forklift in an unsafe manner, or in a manner inconsistent with their training. Additionally, if the forklift operator is assigned to a different make and model of forklift, new training must be provided to the forklift operator.

The brakes, steering, tires, horns, and forks of the forklift each need to be inspected on a daily basis. No modifications to a forklift should be made at the construction site, without the express, written approval from the truck manufacturer. If such a modification is approved, the information on tags, decals, or plates regarding operation, maintenance, and capacity need to be updated to provide accurate information based on the modification.

Where batteries require charging, it needs to be done in an area that has been designated as a battery charging area. Appropriate equipment for battery charging, including such things as overhead hoist, conveyors, or other devices must be provided in this area. Once the battery has been recharged, they must be positioned properly and properly secured back in the forklift. Under no circumstances (even when in an open air environment) should smoking be allowed in the battery charging station. In addition to the smoking prohibition, there should be no electric arcs, open flames, or sparks in the battery charging area. Care and consideration should be given to the location of the battery charging area in relation to the types of activities going on around the designated battery charging area.

When the forklift is not in use, loads and forks should be placed in the fully lowered position. The controls should be neutralized. Power to the forklift should be shut off. Additionally, the breaks should be set when the forklift is not in use.

Care must be taken to assure that the forklift and the forklift operator are provided with sufficient headroom, taking into consideration such surrounding obstacles as pipes, sprinkler systems, lights, and other overhead installations. Additionally, overhead guards need to be in place to protect the forklift operator from falling objects from above.

Operating a forklift comes with special challenges. It is important that all loads comply with the capacity of the individual truck. Not all forklifts are created equal, and forklift operators should know this. Loads need to be safely arranged. Care needs to be taken to assure that loads on forklifts are stable. Finally, forklifts that are unsafe or defective, or have had modifications that were not approved by the manufacturer, should be removed from use.

Crane Safety

As with forklift operators, cranes should only be operated by properly trained and sufficiently qualified operators. As part of the training, the crane operator should be trained in the hand signals used between the crane operator and the derrick operators. These hand signals should also be prominently posted on the job site. The signal person is expected to only use the preapproved hand signals with the crane operator. The crane operator should also be trained to understand the load chart, and further to use the load chart when making decisions about how to proceed. A copy of the load chart should be within the crane for reference, in view of the operator. In addition to rated load capacities, instructions for operating the crane, and the operating speed of the crane, should be posted in a manner that makes them visible to the operator during crane operation.

All rigging equipment, and all hoisting equipment, should be subjected to both an initial inspection and annual inspections thereafter. Maximum loads should not be exceeded. The information about maximum acceptable loads are required to be posted on the crane itself. Additionally, the results of the last maximum acceptable load tests must be posted on the crane. The full load testing report, along with the load testing certification, should be made available for inspection upon request.

The mast bolts on the tower crane must be properly torqued. “Properly torqued” means “torqued to the specifications of the manufacturer.”

There are several safety considerations that cannot be overlooked. First, wire rope that is broken, damaged, or obviously worn should immediately be removed from use.  Next, steps, guardrails, and handholds should be made available to provide easy and safe access to and from each and every area of the crane that a worker may access. Platforms on the crane, along with walkways, should be covered with anti-skid surfaces as an additional safety precaution.

Any and all areas within the crane’s swing radius must be barricaded to protect the average citizen from injury. 100 percent of the crane’s rigging equipment and crane machinery must be inspected daily. This inspection must be done prior to use each day. Additionally, cranes and derricks are prohibited from operating with a 10 foot radius of any electrical power line.

What to do if You Are Injured On the Job

If you have been injured at a construction site, due to a forklift accident or an accident involving a crane, you might be able to recover for your injuries. Please contact determined Atlanta workers’ comp attorneys at the Bader Law Firm, LLC to discuss the facts and circumstances of your individual case. There is no fee unless we recover damages for you.

 

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