#HazardSpotting: What’s RIGHT with this forklift photo?

| May 21, 2013

hazard spotting forklift

The nice folks at MySafetySign liked my interview and subsequent comments on the trench photo, and so I sent them this one and offered to analyze it for them. Their #HazardSpotting motif is: “Can you spot everything they’re doing wrong?” But in this photo I must ask, “Can you spot anything they’re doing RIGHT?” To riff on David Letterman, at least they’re all wearing pants.

The forklift photo has been circulating for at least five years. There are Youtube videos with soundtracks and photos of safety disasters, and this has been a mainstay on those for at least that long. No idea who took it or when; I was told it was taken in China. Nonetheless, let’s assume that this was happening in the United States.

Forklifts, aka “powered industrial trucks,” are regulated under Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations, at 29 CFR 1910.178.

Forklift Design and Load Capacity

First and foremost, when heavy equipment is involved, the regulatory agencies refer to the manufacturers’ design specifications in terms of safety ratings. I think we can safely say that the lift truck on the ground did not have design plans to handle the load capacity shown in the photo. The manual that came with the vehicle would have the maximum weight listed.

Secondly, the writers of regulations can’t anticipate EVERY ridiculous thing that safety-unconscious people will do on a real jobsite. Picking up a forklift with another forklift? Even the people that took the brown acid at Woodstock probably wouldn’t have thought of that one.

PPE for Forklift Operators

Now to the guy standing on the second, uplifted forklift. Again, no regulation-writers could ever have anticipated this sort of nonsense going on. Even if it were somehow allowable for him to be up there, he should have had a safety harness, a retrieval line, and a hardhat on. But no worker should ever be doing what he’s doing. These people were not using the proper equipment for the project.

Look up a little higher now. Whatever equipment that is which is being lifted on the second forklift at least appears to have some sort of canvas webbing safety strap holding it together. Note, though, that it doesn’t seem to be attached to the forklift itself.

Safety Barriers

Finally, check out the four fellows up top, waiting to unload the load. The load itself is blocking the view, and so doesn’t let us know if there’s a gap to unload it through, but one must assume that one exists. But the gentlemen sitting so casually up top are on the unsafe side of the safety barricade. I have to appreciate that whatever and wherever that workplace was, at least they HAD guardrails, although they obviously didn’t provide effective training so that workers used them accordingly.

More about #HazardSpotting

Think you’ve seen an unsafe work condition? Whether it’s construction, manufacturing, or food safety, we’ll investigate the hazard. Snap a picture and share your story with us by sending an email to the editor at Krissa (at) Smartsign.com. We’ll write a post and consult a safety expert. Did we miss anything? Comment below.

Thanks to Bob Carlson, our featured safety expert. Mr. Carlson worked in the electronics industry in Silicon Valley before there were any relevant regulations, and saw firsthand the lax procedures for hazardous waste disposal extant at the time. He later worked for Greenpeace in San Francisco, then as a state hazardous waste inspector in St. Louis. Since then, as a private consultant, he’s conducted many hundreds of safety and environmental cleanup classes, a similar number of property inspections, and has provided expert witness testimony in liability cases involving contamination, for over twenty years. He holds a B.S. in Earth Sciences, and completed six years of university studies. You can visit his blog, Hazard Hot Sheet, for more information.

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Category: #HazardSpotting, Guest Post